Commissioner Victor Crist throws shade at Cross Bay Ferry pilot program
TAMPA -- Hillsborough County Commissioner Victor Crist said Wednesday that the ferry connecting St. Petersburg and Tampa is “wonderful.”
“I’ve been unimpressed with the lack of volume of people using it,” Crist added.
Crist blamed what he saw as poor ridership on a “lack of adequate promotion campaign.” He said there’s not enough signage or advertising letting people know it's there to use.
As it is, Crist, who has a background in advertising, wants the county’s tourism marketing organization Visit Tampa Bay involved from the start as Hillsborough County moves ahead with plans to connect MacDill Air Force Base and Apollo Beach by ferry.
Hillsborough, Tampa, St. Petersburg and Pinellas County each contributed $350,000 to launch a six-month pilot program for ferry services to connect the two downtowns via water. If successful, it could become a permanent fixture.
Ferry organizers have said ridership is strong, growing from 4,700 tickets sold in November to 5,400 in December.
Commissioner Pat Kemp took issue with Crist’s characterization of the Cross Bay Ferry, saying it has yielded a strong return on investment for a transit project.
“Our ferry project now between the downtowns has been extremely successful,” Kemp said.