More than 3,000 Cross-Bay Ferry passengers completed the survey, and 96 percent gave the service good grades. More than 70 percent said they support year-round service.
A survey of people who rode the Cross-Bay Ferry between downtown Tampa and St. Petersburg this year found strong interest in a year-round ferry service connecting multiple points in Tampa Bay.
More than 3,000 passengers completed the 21-question survey that was sent out to riders last week. The ferry’s second season ended April 30, and ridership totaled more than 52,000 trips — far surpassing the 2017 pilot season.
Survey results were shared Monday with the local governments that helped pay for the six-month seasonal boat service.
That gives Hillsborough County Commissioners a couple days to review the results before they hear a presentation scheduled for Wednesday about bringing permanent ferry service to the bay area.
Former Tampa mayoral candidate and lawyer Ed Turanchik first unveiled the proposal last month on behalf of his client, HMS Ferry Inc., which runs the Cross-Bay Ferry and hopes to run the new service as well. The project would cost the county $36.5 million to get the service up and running and use four boats to provide seven-day service around Tampa Bay.
More than 70 percent of respondents said that creating a permanent regional ferry system is very important to them.
The survey described a scenario similar to the proposed business plan commissioners will review Wednesday: ferries running every 30 to 60 minutes during the rush-hour traffic window, then boats running every hour or two during evenings and weekends.
The docks would include the downtowns of St. Petersburg and Tampa along with South Hillsborough County and MacDill Air Force Base. The survey has one feature that the proposed business plan doesn’t: a dock in the Westshore/Tampa International Airport area (the details of exactly where this dock would go were not revealed.)
The existing route linking Tampa and St. Petersburg remained the most popular option, with more than 73 percent of respondents, about 2,100, saying they would use it periodically on nights and weekends for games, events and other travel. The theoretical route between St. Petersburg and Westshore was the second most popular choice, followed by a boat linking St. Petersburg and South Hillsborough County.
“It’s exciting to see affirmed what most of us already knew: that the Cross Bay Ferry is a popular way to utilize our common waterway for transportation,” said St. Petersburg Mayor Rick Kriseman, a leading ferry advocate, in a statement. “I want to thank the Hillsborough County Commission for their consideration and thoughtful discussion of proposed ferry service in Tampa Bay.”