Transportation remains one of the top three issues in our community. As an experiment, Hillsborough County and Pinellas County embarked on a joint venture to learn if a Cross Bay Ferry might alleviate some traffic crossing the bridges between the major business centers, namely downtown St. Pete and Tampa. A second goal was to connect the vibrant down towns of both cities for weekend and evening visitors.
I had the pleasure of taking the ferry this past Sunday, along with my bicycle and five friends. We booked our tickets on line ($10/each way), also getting a ticket for our bikes (no charge). After biking over from my home on Davis Island, we met and boarded with ease. We were not alone: I would venture to say that the boat was FULL on Sunday, going to and coming from St Pete.
Once on board, we enjoyed liquid refreshments and a terrific view. When I considered the alternative, driving from Tampa to St. Pete, I preferred the ease and comfort of the ferry. We landed at a spot in the Vinoy Basin, close to the old Pier. It was easy to get off the ferry, and steer our bikes into the thick of things, along Beach Drive.
For passengers on foot, there was lots to do: eat at any of the fantastic restaurants close by, visit the Dali, walk to North Shore Park, shop at the Sundial or wander down Central and shop in the little boutiques. We elected to grab a picnic lunch from the many options at the Locale Market (in the Sundial Plaza) and rode over to the Northshore Park for lunch. Then we circled down Beach Drive past the Dali, Albert Whitted Airport and USF St. Pete. We capped the day off with a brew at the Hofbrau House!
The trip took about 40 minutes each way and was a fabulous way to enjoy two waterfront jewels: St. Pete and Tampa. I will look into the feasibility of this ferry becoming a cornerstone to our transportation solutions. In the meantime, please look at the website for the ferry at www.crossbayferry.com