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Test ferry service between Tampa, St. Pete to launch in November

Four local governments have come together to test the Cross-Bay Ferry, a six-month pilot project that will transport riders between Tampa and St. Petersburg beginning in November.
A 55-foot catamaran will ferry up to 149 passengers at a time between the Tampa Convention Center and the yacht basin along Bay Shore Drive NE in St. Pete. The voyage takes roughly 50 minutes. The boat can cruise at 33 mph, but the actual operating speed will vary.
"The Cross-Bay Ferry is a fantastic example of regional collaboration to take on an important challenge -- transportation -- in a way that's exciting to experience and pays homage to our maritime history," says St. Pete Mayor Rick Kriseman in a prepared statement. "Importantly, this is a test project, and we need the community to support this if we want it to continue and expand."
The City of St. Petersburg, the City of Tampa, Hillsborough County and Pinellas County collaborated to support the project. Organizers have created a service plan that is subject to change. It begins with online ticket sales on Oct. 15.
Friday-Sunday service begins on Nov. 4 for day-tripping locals, sports fans and tourists.
From Nov. 3-18, community and business organizations can experience the ferry Mondays-Fridays through a series of "Test the Waters" excursions.
The general public can ride the ferry for free from Nov. 21-23 right before Thanksgiving.
Beginning the week of Nov. 28, regular service will start with Monday-Thursday commuter service and mid-day service for recreational and tourist trips.
The ferry will have two round trips Mondays-Fridays and Sundays. There will be three round trips on Saturdays.
The regular fare for a one-way trip will be $10 for adults, $8 for kids 3-12, and free for kids younger than 3.

The test project will end on April 30, 2017.
"The opening of ferry service between Tampa and St. Petersburg is a major addition to our offerings as a tourism destination," says Santiago Corrada, President and CEO of Visit Tampa Bay, in a prepared statement. "We know that visitors pay no attention to municipal boundaries, so providing them with an exciting alternative to driving between Tampa and St. Petersburg will make their visit all the more memorable."

Read more articles by Ashley Reams Mistretta.

Ashley Reams Mistretta is a writer and editor for 83 Degrees Media in the Tampa Bay region of Florida.
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