Tampa to St. Pete ferry service ready to launch

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The cities of Tampa and St. Pete seem set to approve a pilot program for ferry service to run between their two downtowns.

On Wednesday, Hillsborough County Commissioners approved a pilot project to start a boat service on Nov. 1st to carry loads of up to 150 passengers the 20 miles between the Tampa Convention Center and St. Pete's Beach Drive.

As opposed to a driving trip, which can take between 25 and 50 minutes, ferry time would be up to 55 minutes, but be traffic free.

The $1.4 million project, which will be split evenly between the two cities and two counties, is focused mostly on weekends and will run two or three roundtrips a day.

The ferry company, HMS Ferries, will take the first $125,000 in ticket revenue, with the four governments splitting the rest.

"Once the pilot project is done, we need to look at the numbers and make a good financial decision as to whether this is the right way to go," said Mike Suarez, a Tampa City Councilor. "How many people are going to use it, how many are interested in using it?"
There is the big question of whether commuters would take it, which could require more boats and more weekday trips.
At this point, the focus will be on weekend service.

Tickets will be $10.

The Cities of Tampa and St. Pete are expected to approve the project on Thursday, with Pinellas County expecting to approve it next week.