TAMPA, Fla. — Tampa Bay area leaders are looking to expand service for the Cross-Bay Ferry, making it year-round within the next few years.
Some local drivers say there are a lot of benefits to traveling by water, instead of by road.
"You can do what you want to do anyway and not have to worry about traffic and being distracted," one motorist told ABC Action News.
That's behind the push to expand service for the Cross-Bay Ferry, allowing people to take a 55-minute ride across Tampa Bay from St. Petersburg to Tampa and vice versa.
In 2020, the Cross-Bay Ferry eclipsed ridership records in its third season, transporting more than 50,000 passengers.
Now, leaders in Tampa and St. Petersburg have a plan to expand Cross-Bay Ferry service over a new four-year contract.
In year one, the service will run from October 1, 2021, through April 30, 2022. In year two, the service will run from October 1, 2022, through May 31, 2023. In year three, the service will run from October 1, 2023, to June 30, 2024. By year four, the service will run from October 1, 2024, through September 30, 2025.
HMS, the company that operates the Cross-Bay Ferry, told ABC Action News in 2019 that the ferry, combined with other transit options like the Downtown Looper in St. Petersburg, the Tampa Streetcar and various other public transit options all provide more choices for commuters.
"All of them together will help the commuters have an alternative to sitting in traffic," said Matthew Miller with HMS.
The expanded service options would also include additional mid-week service at the start of the regular baseball season and for Lightning home games at Amalie Arena. Riders may also find extra routes added for major events such as Gasparilla and the Grand Prix of St. Petersburg
The cost will remain between $8 and $12 for an adult one-way ticket, with discounted rates for kids, students, seniors and riders with disabilities.
Hillsborough County Commissioners are expected to vote on their part of the plan this week.