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TAMPA BAY’S CROSS-BAY FERRY gets a $4.8 million federal boost

U.S. Rep. Kathy Castor announced the U.S. Department of Transportation has awarded the Cross-Bay Ferry service $4.863 million in federal funding through the 2021 Passenger Ferry Grant Program.

The new funds will go towards reducing operations costs, a new 350-passenger boat, and a new route, according to a statement from Castor.

The proposed route will travel from southern Hillsborough to Macdill Air Force Base and intends to set sail by 2025.

Launched in 2017, the ferry’s reputation was labeled as a tourist attraction. The current system—using a 149-passenger ferry —takes riders from the St. Pete Pier dock to the Tampa Convention Center and vice-versa, with the 55-minute, one-way commute linking the community with every ride.

“This grant will allow HART to significantly reduce operational costs while expanding the Cross-Bay Ferry service, helping to grow intercity and commuter ferry service,” says Castor in the official press release.

In fall 2021, local governments cleared a four-year agreement with HMS Ferries and South Swell Development to transition the seasonal Cross-Bay Ferry into a year-round service by 2024.

Currently, for those looking to ride the Cross-Bay Ferry, tickets are $10 for one-way adults, $8 for children, seniors, college students, military; and $5 for persons who utilize a wheelchair. Children four and under ride for free.

The current seasonal schedule has departures set for Wednesdays and Thursdays opening at 4:45 p.m., 10 a.m. on Saturdays, and 11 a.m. on Sundays.

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