New Madeira Beach ferry starts service

- Driving and parking at the beach can take all the fun out of a care-free day by the shore, but help has arrived in Madeira Beach. A new ferry service aims to let tourists and locals kick their feet up and feel the sea breeze on their faces as they’re whisked to popular beachside locales.

On Saturday the Madeira Beach Ferry fired up its motors and kicked it into cruising speeds along the intercoastal. The ferry makes nine stops in Boca Ciega Bay, connecting Madeira Beach to Saint Pete and Treasure Island in a brand new way.

“It’s so nice to be out on the water and so easy a ride. You can sit back, relax, and let someone else to the driving,” beamed Deborah Slone, the ferry’s very first passenger.

For ferry captain Mark Hubbard, who says he’s dreamt of this day for the last 15 years, a waterway transportation option was a no-brainer.

“It just makes sense. New York, San Francisco, even here in Florida down in Ft. Lauderdale, has learned how to use the water. Now it’s time for Pinellas County,” said Hubbard.

The ferry will run Fridays and Saturdays from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. through March. In peak tourist season (March-September) the ferry schedule will pick up an extra day on Wednesdays.

Madeira Beach Ferry organizers say they hope to expand ferry service even further. If the Madeira Beach service is a hit, Hubbard says he hopes to connect Madeira Beach to Clearwater Beach and even as far south as Anna Maria Island. For more information on schedules, pick up locations and tickets, visit tampabayferry.com.

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