A brand new ferry service is about to open for business. The Cross Bay Ferry took its maiden voyage from St. Pete to Tampa Tuesday, and soon you'll be able to go for a ride.
Experiencing the blue skies and wide open ocean of Tampa Bay are reasons those backing the Cross Bay Ferry hope brings riders in Tampa Bay aboard.
"You don't get that when you're stuck on the Howard Frankland!" said St. Pete mayor Rick Kriseman.
It's nearly an hour boat trip one-way to go from St. Pete's Vinoy basin to the Tampa Convention Center. But Joe Legrand says it's a viable alternative for him for commuting, and going to events across the bay.
"To cut down on the traffic, the congestion on the bridges is kind of a neat thing. It takes a little longer, but going on a ferry is a neat experience," said Legrand.
You can hop on to check it out starting this Friday. Tickets will run you $10 each way, which is estimated to be about half the cost of an Uber ride between the two cities. Starting next month, cheaper commuter passes will be available, too. And tons of businesses are offering deals to entice you to try it out.
"I'm pretty confident once people experience this, and they get to see pretty amazing downtowns, they're going to be using this on a regular basis," said Tampa mayor Bob Buckhorn.
The ferry's test run will last six months. Everything from pricing to schedules can be changed as people use it and give feedback.
"You make adjustments and you tweak things, and you see what works best," Kriseman said.
Once you get to either city, you can hop on a bike, bus, or shuttle to get where you're going.
"We don't see one boat as fixing all traffic problems across Tampa Bay, but if a lot of people like it and find it useful, that's great real life data," said Richard Mullins, Cross Bay Ferry spokesperson.
And if the ferry proves to be a success, local leaders are certainly hoping it's just the beginning of more innovative travel solutions between both sides of the bay.
"This is all about giving commuters mobility options. This is one option. Rail is clearly another, and we've got to start moving in that direction," said Buckhorn.
And you can ride the new ferry free the three days before and day after Thanksgiving. After that, Frontier Communications is sponsoring free rides the third Sunday of each month.
Right now, the ferry will run only on weekends during its soft launch. After thanksgiving, you'll be able to ride the ferry seven days a week.
Tickets can be purchased in-person at the ticket booths or online ahead of time at crossbayferry.com.
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