Make us your home page

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Mayor Rick Kriseman: Ridership numbers show a need for ferry service between Tampa and St. Petersburg

CLEARWATER — With the ferry service between St. Petersburg and Tampa ending in April, St. Petersburg Mayor Rick Kriseman vowed in front of the Pinellas County Commission to find money to help bring it back in November.

During a 30-minute presentation Tuesday, Kriseman told the commission that his staff is contacting federal and state officials to see what is required for those governments to possibly contribute money for the temporary service.

In a rare display of regional cooperation, St. Petersburg, Tampa, Hillsborough and Pinellas each pitched in $350,000, or a combined $1.4 million, for the six-month pilot study. HMS Ferries has operated daily service between St. Petersburg's North Yacht Basin and a dock in Tampa near the Convention Center since November.

Kriseman touted ridership figures that exceeded initial projections. Through February, 22,596 passengers had used the service, he said, noting that surveys have found that 72 percent of passengers live in Pinellas and Hillsborough counties.

"It's a big deal," said Kriseman, who told the commissioners he was not there Tuesday to ask them for more funding. "There is a demand for ferry service in Tampa Bay."

The contract with HMS Ferries required the firm to split ticket revenues with the four governments after the first $125,000 in ticket sales. As a result, Kriseman said $54,602 is being split among the governments. He predicted higher sales figures in March and April.

Ridership surveys also show that passengers have spent about $920,000 on dining and other attractions once disembarking the ferry, Kriseman said.

He noted the initial one-way cost to ride the ferry was dropped from $10 to $5, a move that drew more passengers. Kriseman acknowledged missteps when the boat could not run during January's Gasparilla Invasion and Parade of the Pirates and during one day of the College Football Playoff championship weekend.

Several commissioners expressed disappointment the ferry did not run during those events. Kriseman stressed that the boat could not dock in Tampa since the facility had been booked before the ferry contract was finalized.

He pledged to brief the commission again once the trial service ends.

Commissioner Dave Eggers said the figures need to show how many passengers were repeat customers or whether they were one-time riders trying out the service.

"The best news I heard is that you weren't here to ask for more money," Eggers said. "There's still a lot of questions to be asked."

Contact Mark Puente at [email protected] or (727) 892-2996. Follow @MarkPuente

Mayor Rick Kriseman: Ridership numbers show a need for ferry service between Tampa and St. Petersburg 03/28/17 [Last modified: Tuesday, March 28, 2017 8:26pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. 'Empire' star Grace Byers keynotes USF Women in Leadership & Philanthropy luncheon

    Human Interest


    TAMPA — The first University of South Florida graduate to address the USF's Women in Leadership & Philanthropy supporters, Grace Gealey Byers, class of 2006, centered her speech on her first name, turning it into a verb to share life lessons.

    Grace Byers, University of South Florida Class of 2006, stars on the Fox television show Empire. She delivered the keynote at the USF Women in Leadership and Philanthropy luncheon Friday. Photo by Amy Scherzer
  2. Southeast Seminole Heights holds candlelight vigil for victims' families and each other


    TAMPA — They came together in solidarity in Southeast Seminole Heights, to sustain three families in their grief and to confront fear, at a candlelight vigil held Sunday night in the central Tampa neighborhood.

    A peaceful march that began on east New Orleans Avenue was held during the candlelight vigil for the three victims who were killed in the recent shootings in the Seminole Heights neighborhood in Tampa on Sunday, October 22, 2017.
  3. It's not just Puerto Rico: FEMA bogs down in Florida, Texas too

    HOUSTON — Outside Rachel Roberts' house, a skeleton sits on a chair next to the driveway, a skeleton child on its lap, an empty cup in its hand and a sign at its feet that reads "Waiting on FEMA."

    Ernestino Leon sits among the debris removed from his family’s flood-damaged Bonita Springs home on Oct. 11. He has waited five weeks for FEMA to provide $10,000 to repair the home.
  4. McConnell says he's awaiting Trump guidance on health care

    STERLING, Va. — Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said Sunday he's willing to bring bipartisan health care legislation to the floor if President Donald Trump makes clear he supports it.

    Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell says he’s “not certain yet” on what Trump wants.
  5. Tampa's Lance McCullers shows killer instinct in pitching Astros to World Series


    HOUSTON — It felt like the beginning on Saturday night at Minute Maid Park, the arrival of a new force on the World Series stage. The Astros are back, for the first time in a dozen years, and they want to stay a while.

    Houston Astros starting pitcher Lance McCullers (43) throwing in the fifth inning of the game between the Houston Astros and the Tampa Bay Rays in Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, Fla. on Sunday, July 12, 2015.