Ferry connecting St. Pete and Tampa gets green light from Hillsborough County
TAMPA — Hillsborough County commissioners agreed Wednesday to pitch in $350,000 for a proposed ferry that will connect the downtowns of St. Petersburg and Tampa this winter.
In a 6-0 vote, commissioners signed off on an agreement negotiated between St. Petersburg Mayor Rick Kriseman and HMS Ferries to launch the new pilot program. Tampa City Council will take up the agreement tomorrow, St. Petersburg on Friday and Pinellas County will review it on Tuesday.
If Tampa and Pinellas approve, ferries will start taking passengers across Tampa Bay starting Nov. 1.
“This is so significant,” said Commissioner Sandy Murman, “connecting two cities and really stop talking about the word ‘regional’ and actually becoming regional.”
Under the agreed upon terms, each of the four governments will split the $1.4 million cost for HMS Ferries to operate a route between Tampa and St. Petersburg that will run twice daily and three times on Fridays for six months. HMS Ferries will receive the first $125,000 in revenue earned from ticket sales, which will cost $10 for a one-way trip though it could fluctuate, and the any additional earnings will be split equally between St. Petersburg, Tampa and Hillsborough and Pinellas counties.
The largest expense for the project is the ferry itself, which will cost about $560,000 to rent for six months.
Proponents of the project hope the ferry will be used by tourists and residents traveling between the two cities for recreation, like Tampa Bay Lightning games, and work. During the pilot program, officials will measure its use by commuters and non-commuters and effects on vehicle usage.
If successful, the ferry become a permanent fixture on Tampa Bay and a new mode of transportation for residents in the region.