Saturday, October 20, 2018
Transportation

Young professionals explore possibilities of Cross-Bay Ferry

As Constanza Lanata and Andrew Machota cruised along Tampa Bay on Monday afternoon, the two daydreamed about how life might look with the Cross-Bay Ferry operating regularly between St. Petersburg and Tampa.

Lanata, 33, could check out St. Petersburg's monthly First Friday celebration without worrying about driving back afterward. Machota, 35, could use the Wi-Fi and work at one of the tables during the 50-minute trip instead of battling traffic on his way to Tampa.

PILOT PROGRAM LAUNCHES: Ferry offers new transportation option for now

Monday's trip brought together several groups of young professionals to test ride the ferry, which started its six-month pilot program Nov. 1. Lanata and Machota are part of a demographic that ferry organizers say is key to the success of the area's latest transit option.

The organizers rattled off a list of events the boat would be perfect for — Tampa Bay Rays or Lightning games, festivals at Curtis Hixon, brunch on Beach Drive, concerts at Amalie Arena.

But there are concerns, too. At $20 round trip, the price seems too high, they said. The schedule is limited. And once the boat ports in the other city, what options are waiting there to get people where they need to go?

"If I'm paying you $20, help me out," said Machota, founder of New Town Connections, a networking company. "Help me get to Curtis Hixon or Fly Bar. Have a shuttle waiting for me.

"If I know there's a way to get me from the dock to Margarita Fest or the Pig Jig, hell yeah I'm gonna go. That would give me more incentive."

Many young professionals on the boat moved to the Tampa Bay area after living in cities with more robust public transit systems.

Lanata didn't have a car in Buenos Aires, relying on the train and subway. Nick Glover, 34, and his wife moved to Tampa to be closer to family, but missed the ease of public transportation and the walkability of New York City. Robert Torres, 38, works to bring more millennials to Hillsborough County but says cities like Charlotte and Denver have a leg up when it comes to public transit.

"You move here, and it's like, "What? Really?" Lanata said, speaking of the lack of public transit options. "I think we all want something we can use so that we don't have to depend on a car so much."

Glover was disappointed when larger transportation initiatives in the area, such as a sales tax to fund transportation, failed over the past several years. But he said recent projects such as the ferry, rapid bus routes and enhanced bike and pedestrian facilities are all steps in the right direction."

"We're starting to see it happen piecemeal," Glover said. "We don't have to do all earth-shattering things. … Each one is an important small piece of that puzzle."

But while there is a desire to see all of these options succeed, Torres said, it's essential the system be more interconnected. Now, he said, it seems like all transportation options in the area operate independently — the streetcar in Tampa, the trolley in St. Petersburg, the county bus systems.

"Everybody should meet and work out a schedule so we can take advantage of all of the options," Lanata said.

Several on board said having a fare card that worked for all of the area's public transit options would make them more likely to leave their cars behind and take transit instead.

"If I go to any other city, I can buy a day pass and use any form of transportation," Machota said. "I know it's difficult with two different counties, but this isn't just one city we live and work in. It's Tampa Bay. There's got to be a way to work together."

Contact Caitlin Johnston at [email protected] or (813) 226-3401. Follow @cljohnst.

   
Comments
As ballots start coming in, All for Transportation makes its case for sales tax hike

As ballots start coming in, All for Transportation makes its case for sales tax hike

TAMPA — There is little disagreement that Hillsborough County’s roads and bus network are not meeting the needs of the fast-growing county.But how to fix congestion and pay for better transit remains a thorny issue even as voting by mail already is u...
Published: 10/12/18
Here’s how money from a sales tax hike would improve transportation in Hillsborough

Here’s how money from a sales tax hike would improve transportation in Hillsborough

BRANDON — The snarl of traffic starts early on Bloomingdale Avenue, brake lights inching west in a blur toward Interstate 75.Almost 50,000 vehicles travel the four-lane road every day. Congestion is so bad that traffic engineers give it an F, the low...
Published: 10/12/18
Bucs, Rays, Lightning back sales tax hike for transportation; each donate $100,000

Bucs, Rays, Lightning back sales tax hike for transportation; each donate $100,000

TAMPA — Tampa Bay’s three major professional sports franchises have each donated $100,000 to the citizen’s group pushing a sales tax for transportation improvements, helping push the group’s total political donations over the $2 million mark.Boosted ...
Updated one month ago
Pinellas’ first electric bus is here. It’s free. It’s in St. Pete.

Pinellas’ first electric bus is here. It’s free. It’s in St. Pete.

ST. PETERSBURG — The rumblings of a bus tend to be loud and exhaust-filled. Pinellas County’s bus agency wants to change that around here. The Pinellas Suncoast Transit Authority purchased two electric busses that will start running this...
Updated one month ago
Is Pinellas County really the most dangerous place in the nation to ride a bicycle?

Is Pinellas County really the most dangerous place in the nation to ride a bicycle?

The headline was alarming."The Most Dangerous Place to Bicycle in America," the Wall Street Journal wrote Monday, declaring "Pinellas County, Fla., has the highest cyclist death rate in the Tampa Bay metro area — which has the highest rate of any met...
Updated one month ago
Commute times reach nearly half an hour, note backers of tax hike for transportation

Commute times reach nearly half an hour, note backers of tax hike for transportation

TAMPA — Something to ponder the next time you’re stuck on Dale Mabry Highway during rush hour: The average commute for people in Hillsborough County now pushes half an hour.U.S. Census Bureau data released this month shows a 28.3 minute average commu...
Updated one month ago