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Cross-Bay Ferry sees strong ridership in first weekend

The Cross Bay Ferry, the new ferry linking downtown St. Petersburg to downtown Tampa, saw strong ridership in its first weekend. [DIRK SHADD   |   Times] 
The Cross Bay Ferry, the new ferry linking downtown St. Petersburg to downtown Tampa, saw strong ridership in its first weekend. [DIRK SHADD | Times] 
Published Nov. 11, 2016

The Cross-Bay Ferry, the area's newest form of public transportation, exceeded expectations during its first days open to the public last weekend.

There were seven round trips during its first weekend of service Nov. 4-6, officials said, selling more than 70 percent of the seats. The ferry can carry 149 passengers, and nearly half the one-way trips sold at least 90 percent of the available inventory.

"The results are beyond our expectations, and the excitement we're seeing for the ferry across Tampa Bay is translating into real ticket sales," St. Petersburg Mayor Rick Kriseman said. "Still, this is just the first weekend, and our team expects that ridership will go up and down over the next few months."

November begins a six-month pilot project for the ferry, which runs between the downtowns of Tampa and St. Petersburg. Four local governments partnered to fund the pilot to determine if there is demand to make the ferry a long-term transit option.

The Tampa Bay Lightning bought out the Cross-Bay Ferry's round-trip tickets Saturday evening for St. Petersburg fans. Other corporate partnerships include discounted parking at the lot north of the Tampa Marriott Waterside, courtesy of Strategic Property Partners. Also, free trips are available every third Sunday as part of a Frontier Communications sponsorship.

Full seven-day-a-week service starts Nov. 28 and ends in April.