New commuter ferry routes could ease congestion

Proposed routes to TIA, MAFB & Downtown Tampa
Posted at 6:48 PM, Feb 03, 2017
and last updated 2017-02-03 18:48:09-05

New proposed ferry routes from South Hillsborough County could help ease congestion and create an easier commute.

Hillsborough County is now considering adding commuter ferry routes from South County to Downtown Tampa, South County to Tampa International Airport/Westshore area and South County to MacDill Air Force base.

With travel times of 13 minutes to MAFB and 25 minutes to downtown Tampa, passenger ferry service can provide congestion proof, reliable travel options to these two major employment destinations now and in the future, county leaders said.

Three Tampa Bay specific designed fast passenger ferries would carry between 149 and 200 passengers. The ferries would operate every 15 minutes between 6 a.m. and 9 a.m. and 4 p.m. and 6 p.m. on workdays. Boats would also operate on evenings and weekends connecting St. Petersburg, Tampa and South County, depending on the demand.

For commuters who are often stuck in traffic, they said it sounds like a good solution.

"Less stressful, easier, more economical," said Dean Horvart, who commutes to Downtown Tampa every day from Apollo Beach.

There would also be high-capacity trams on MAFB that would shuttle employees from a terminal near the Davis Conference Center around to major destinations on the base, county leaders said.

"Just the time," said Keith Freda, who also commutes. "Being able to park my car, have someone bring me and shorten that time by maybe 30 minutes, it'd be kind of a no-brainer."

The diversion of peak hour commuters would reduce trips on key state and local roadways, including US 41, I-75, Bayshore Blvd., Dale Mabry, cutting net vehicle miles traveled by over 90,000 miles each day, county leaders said.

Hillsborough County is still in the process of doing an environmental impact study as well as assessing routes and drop-off locations, but said the project could be a reality within the next three years.