The Return of the Cross-Bay Ferry
St. Petersburg, Fl (Oct. 17, 2022) – The Cross-Bay Ferry will begin its sixth season of operations across Tampa Bay on Wednesday, Oct. 19, 2022. The service, which provides a scenic and congestion-free transportation option between downtown Tampa and downtown St. Petersburg, returns following its most successful season since the service began, with a record-breaking 62,130 riders from October 2021 to May 2022, and 10,000 more people than its previous record.
Tickets are now available for purchase online at www.thecrossbayferry.com or at dockside ticket booths in Tampa and St. Petersburg.
The Cross-Bay Ferry is an innovative collaboration between Hillsborough County, the City of Tampa, the City of St. Petersburg, Pinellas County and the Florida Department of Transportation that is working to build the ferry into a long-term local transportation resource that will significantly relieve roadway congestion, boost commerce to local businesses, and provide a fast, fun, and affordable way to travel. Hillsborough County is currently the lead agency under contract with the other government partners and HMS.
“Thanks to a productive partnership between the local governments and the Florida Department of Transportation, the Cross-Bay Ferry is returning this month and is well-positioned for another successful season as we continue to build upon the system’s early success,” said Matt Miller, President, HMS Ferries. “The Cross-Bay Ferry offers a uniquely accessible and affordable transportation option between downtown Tampa and downtown St. Pete, providing local residents and visitors with a commuting option that includes incredible views of the bay and surrounding skylines.”
“I am thrilled to see the Cross-Bay Ferry return for its sixth and what I am sure will be another successful season,” said Kimberly Overman, Commissioner and Chair, Hillsborough County Board of County Commissioners. “We need every tool available to help solve the transportation needs of Tampa Bay.”
Interview Availability and Commencement Ride
On its first day of service, Oct. 19, the ferry will kick off its new season with interview opportunities available with Tampa, Hillsborough County, and St. Petersburg officials at the ferry’s Tampa and St. Petersburg docks, and with an opportunity for officials and members of the media to ride the ferry from Tampa to St. Pete and then return.
The schedule on Oct. 19 will be as follows:
- 2:15-2:45 p.m. - Media interviews available with Kimberly Overman, Commissioner and Chair, Hillsborough County Board of County Commissioners; Pat Kemp, Commissioner, Hillsborough County Board of County Commissioners, and Chair, Hillsborough Area Regional Transit Authority; and other Tampa and Hillsborough County officials at the dock at the Tampa Convention Center.
- 3:00 p.m. - Departure from Tampa to St. Petersburg for any officials or members of the media who want to ride the ferry.
- 3:50 p.m. - Arrival at St. Petersburg.
- 4:00-4:30 p.m. - Media interviews available with St. Petersburg officials at the dock at North Straub Park, near the Vinoy Marina.
- 4:45 p.m. - Return trip from St. Petersburg to Tampa for any officials or members of the media who want to return.
This year the ferry will again offer an extended season with an additional month of service and an expanded daily schedule that includes later evening runs. Service will begin on Oct. 19, at 4:45 p.m., and continue until May 2023. Later evening departures will also be available, with final departure times from Tampa as late as 11 p.m. on Friday and Saturday nights.
Docks and Departures
The Cross-Bay Ferry will operate from the same terminal locations as in previous seasons. In Tampa, the ferry will depart from the dock at the Tampa Convention Center, and in St. Petersburg, from the dock at North Straub Park, near the Vinoy Marina. First departures from St. Petersburg will start at 4:45 p.m. on Wednesdays and Thursdays, 10 a.m. on Fridays, 10 a.m. on Saturdays, and 11 a.m. on Sundays. Final departures from Tampa will be at 10:45 p.m. on Wednesdays and Thursdays, 11 p.m. on Fridays and Saturdays, and 7:30 p.m. on Sundays.
Cross-Bay Ferry adult ticket prices will now be $12 per one-way trip. All other tickets will remain at the same price as the 2021-22 season: $8 one-way and $16 roundtrip for seniors (65-plus), youths (ages 5 to 18), members of the military (active or retired), and college students. The service remains free for children aged 4 and under. People using a wheelchair will continue to benefit from a discounted rate of $5 oneway and $10 roundtrip. Residents and visitors can view the full schedule and purchase tickets online at www.thecrossbayferry.com, or visit the dockside ticket booths in Tampa or St. Petersburg.
Current and Future Vessels
The ferry vessel, named Provincetown III, is a twin-hull aluminum catamaran that can carry a maximum of 149 guests at an average speed of 30 mph. The vessel has a full-service bar with basic food service. Passengers may bring up to two pieces of luggage and one small personal item at no extra charge, and they may also bring bikes on board. Customer surveys will also be taken regularly to improve service and gain better insight into how future permanent service can be structured.
In February, the Federal Transit Administration awarded Hillsborough Area Regional Transit Authority (HART) a $4.9 million grant to buy a new 350-passenger vessel that HART requested last October. This will further establish the Cross-Bay Ferry as a mainstay transit option to reduce congestion, create local jobs, support small businesses, and increase connectivity across the Tampa Bay area.
“The entire Tampa region has embraced ferry transportation, leading to increased season-by-season ridership and a demand for expanded, permanent service,” said Matt Miller, President, HMS Ferries. “That demand for increased service and the recent grant for the purchase of an additional vessel will together set the stage for an exciting new era of ferry transportation that builds upon Tampa Bay’s special maritime history and embraces the area’s vibrant waterfronts.”
Government and Community Support
A number of local government and community leaders have voiced support for the ferry’s mission and new season of service.
"As our region continues to grow, congestion on our bridges and highways grows with it,” said Jane Castor, Mayor of Tampa. “The Tampa Bay region's waterways are an underutilized resource for moving people from one city to another without sitting in traffic. Like the streetcar, the Cross-Bay Ferry shows that there is a local demand for transportation choices that is not only good for travelers, but great for our economy."
“We look forward to welcoming back the Cross-Bay Ferry for another great season,” said Ken Welch, Mayor of St. Petersburg. “Connecting Tampa Bay’s beautiful cities by water provides a one-of-a-kind way to view our pristine bay, all while offering convenient destinations. Whether you’re heading to a Rays game, watching the puck drop at a Lightning game, or visiting cultural institutions like the Dalí and Florida Aquarium, there’s something for everyone to experience.”
“Each year, I wait with anticipation for the Cross-Bay Ferry to return to Tampa Bay and begin its acclaimed seasonal service,” said Pat Kemp, Commissioner, Hillsborough County Board of County Commissioners, and Chair, Hillsborough Area Regional Transit Authority. “I again look forward to this year's successful return and to the time in the near future when we establish full-time, year-round service with our own ferry right here in Tampa Bay.”
“The Tampa Bay Chamber has always been a big supporter of the Cross-Bay Ferry, because we understand that increased public transportation options of any sort will only help to make our economy and business community stronger,” said Dr. Bob Rohrlack, President and CEO, Tampa Bay Chamber. “Tampa and St. Petersburg are both thriving cities, and the ability to connect them for the good of both local economies is something that we will continue to stand behind.”
“This ferry represents more to our community than just a single-rider entertainment excursion,” said Chris Steinocher, President and CEO, St. Petersburg Area Chamber of Commerce. “We see a day on the horizon when Hillsborough residents ride the ferry for their daily commute to work or play in our downtown or seamlessly connect to our SunRunner bus rapid transit to hit our award-winning beaches.”
For schedules, tickets, and more information on the Cross-Bay Ferry, visit www.thecrossbayferry.com.