Cross-Bay Ferry Launched
A new ferry service has opened in Florida, a St. Petersburg/Tampa ferry service, and organizers project that this is just the start as they "test the waters" for the new service dubbed The Cross-Bay Ferry.
“Everywhere I go, people ask me about the ferry,” said St. Petersburg Mayor Rick Kriseman, an early supporter of the project. “The Cross-Bay Ferry is a fantastic example of regional collaboration to take on an important challenge – transportation – in a way that’s exciting to experience and pays homage to our maritime history. Importantly, this is a test project, and we need the community to support this if we want it to continue and expand.”
Project organizers laid out an innovative plan for the Cross-Bay Ferry project. "We only have one vessel, and one crew, so we cannot do everything, but we do mean to showcase this technology to a lot of people and test ferry service in a variety of ways and markets." said Ed Turanchik with Akerman LLP, policy advisor for the project. "I think we have managed to do the most we can possibly do in a single, short pilot project."
The project service plan includes:
- Early October: Full ferry pilot service website goes live.
- October 15: Projected date for commencement of online ticket sales.
- Late October: Vessel scheduled to arrive in Tampa Bay, subject to weather and transportation schedules.
- Early November: Inaugural VIP launch trip and scheduled Friday/Saturday/Sunday service begins for the public on November 4 – designed for day-tripping locals, sports fans and tourists.
- November 3 – November 18: Community and business organizations can experience the boat Mondays-Fridays through a series of pre-scheduled “Test the Waters” excursions. For organizations interested in special events or “Test the Waters” excursions
- Thanksgiving Week (Mon.-Wed.): Free “Test the Waters” events for the general public.
- Week of November 28: Weekday service commences with Monday-Thursday commuter service and mid-day service for recreational and tourist trips.
- December: Corporations and non-profit organizations will be able to "Make A Splash" and book a portion of the vessel for group sales on limited select dates as a way to support the project.
The launch of the Cross-Bay Ferry became possible through a unique collaboration between four local governments: The City of St. Petersburg, the City of Tampa, Hillsborough County and Pinellas County – each of which committed to support the project.
“The opening of ferry service between Tampa and St. Petersburg is a major addition to our offerings as a tourism destination,” said Santiago Corrada, president and CEO of Visit Tampa Bay. “We know that visitors pay no attention to municipal boundaries, so providing them with an exciting alternative to driving between Tampa and St. Petersburg will make their visit all the more memorable.”
Cross-Bay Ferry service organizers have designed the schedule and focus of service to test and serve various market segments. For instance, regular Monday through Thursday service will accommodate both the tourist and commuter market. Friday thru-Sunday service will test and serve the entertainment, sports, shopping and tourism markets. Initial ticket prices will likely begin at $10 per one-way trip, with special discounts for regular commuters, and other prices offset by promotional partnerships. Passengers will be able to book their tickets online well in advance, or purchase any available seats as walk-ups at either dock.
Private sector support and participation in the project already is positive. “We’re already receiving very strong interest from corporate sponsors and advertisers, plus more than fifty restaurants, museums and attractions have already told us that want to partner with the ferry project,” said Ed Turanchik.
Organizers also announced that Schifino Lee Advertising + Branding has been retained by the vessel operator, HMS Ferries Inc., as the agency of record, and that the public relations firm of Tucker/Hall has also been retained as part of the marketing team to assist with the project.
The vessel is a catamaran design that provides for exceptionally smooth runs, and measures 55-feet, accommodating up to 149 passengers for the roughly 50-minute voyage between the cities. At St. Petersburg, the vessel will dock in the yacht basin along Bay Shore Drive NE. At Tampa, the vessel will dock adjacent to the Tampa Convention Center.