TAMPA — The mayors of Tampa and St. Petersburg are scheduled to meet today at Tampa City Hall about a proposal to create a ferry service between the two cities.
Last month, the St. Petersburg City Council earmarked $350,000 for its share of establishing the service, which is a priority of St. Petersburg Mayor Rick Kriseman. Backers hope that Tampa and Hillsborough County put up money as well to launch a six-month pilot project.
But Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn said Monday he knows little about the proposal beyond what he's read in the newspaper or heard from Kriseman in a cursory conversation the two had a couple of months back.
"I want to see the business plan," Buckhorn said. In theory, he said, the idea makes a lot of sense and could add to the options that people have to travel between the two downtowns. But he hasn't been told how much money Tampa would be expected to put into the project. And he wants to know whether the private operator would share in the risk.
If not, he said, "I think it will be problematic."
Meanwhile, two companies said last week that St. Petersburg didn't give prospective bidders enough time to respond to a request asking vendors to outline their qualifications to provide the ferry service. Companies were given about three weeks to respond.
HMS Ferries, based near Seattle, was the only company to meet the Dec. 18 deadline with a response about its readiness to launch the six-month pilot program, St. Petersburg officials said. The company has ties to Tampa attorney Ed Turanchik, a former Hillsborough County commissioner and an advocate of cross-bay ferry service.
On Wednesday morning, Kriseman is scheduled to make a presentation about the ferry pilot project to the Hillsborough County Commission.
Contact Richard Danielson at [email protected] or (813) 226-3403. Follow @Danielson_Times