TAMPA. Fla. (WFLA) – Business is booming for the ferry bringing together both sides of the bay.
During the Cross Bay Ferry’s first season two years ago, 39,000 passengers made the 50-minute trek between St. Petersburg’s North Straub Park and the Tampa Convention Center.
Only halfway through its 2020 season, officials are reporting a 43 percent increase over last year’s total ridership, at 33,144.
Both weekend and weekday ridership have increased at 48 percent and 28 percent respectively.
Proving to be a more reliable commute than traffic along the Howard Frankland, 88 percent of ferry rides have departed within one minute of the scheduled time. Only 1 percent of ferry trips were delayed by more than five minutes.
Even last week – as the majority of the Tampa Bay area experienced storms, tornadoes and high winds – the sold-out ferry left on time. It was filled to its 149-person capacity with mostly Tampa Bay Lightning fans headed to the home-arena game.
“The ferry did well, though the ride was a bit choppy compared to its typically smooth trip,” said Kevin Fisher, project manager for HMS Ferries, the operator of the Cross-Bay Ferry. “Our passengers expressed their relief that the ferry was running and the crew reported that they received more than their regular share of ‘thank yous’ upon arrival in St. Petersburg.”
The popular and inexpensive alternative to bumper-to-bumper traffic has already been added to the budgets of the Florida Department of Transportation, as well as Tampa and St. Peterburg for a fourth season next year.
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