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Cross Bay Ferry to dock at Port St. Pete

Veronica Brezina



The Cross Bay Ferry at St. Petersburg's North Yacht Basin. Photo by Veronica Brezina.

The Port of St. Petersburg may become the new home for the Cross Bay Ferry – at least for now. 

Since 2016, the Cross Bay Ferry has provided a seasonal waterborne transit service, carrying thousands of travelers to and from Tampa and St. Petersburg – an alternative that leaders have touted as an innovative approach to bridging the two cities. 

At the North Yacht Basin, a marina across from The Vinoy Resort and Golf Club, passengers purchase tickets from a booth before boarding the vessel and debarking on a seasonal 50-minute journey to the Tampa Convention Center. However, the Basin wasn’t intended to become the permanent ferry site.  

“We always knew the temporary permit for the North Basin was just that – temporary. The permanent ferry dock was supposed to be part of the new Pier, but the new Pier was constructed without that [infrastructure],” City Councilmember Gina Driscoll said during the Sept. 28 council meeting.

The permit for the Basin recently expired. The city and HMS Ferries Inc., the operator, are now working with the Army Corps of Engineers to determine if the ferry could dock at the Port. 

Port St. Pete, located near downtown, is one of 15 deep-water harbors in Florida and is utilized as a U.S. Coast Guard station.

Evan Mory, the city’s director of transportation and parking management, informed officials the ferry may operate out of the Port this season and could later return to the North Yacht Basin for the following two seasons. 

The incoming season’s service will extend from eight to nine months, beginning in October and terminating the following June. An exact start date for the new season has not been announced. 

The city will resubmit a permit application, giving HMS the flexibility of using both the Basin and Port facilities as needed, HMS Ferries President Matt Miller told the St. Pete Catalyst. 

The Port property has benefits and challenges as the site isn’t centrally located, but it offers substantial free parking and is close to the Looper Trolley stop, near the Hangar Restaurant.

The Trolley stops at over a dozen sites, including City Hall, museums and the University of South Florida’s St. Pete campus. 

“I want everyone to know you had conversations with the folks of the Looper Trolley to get the stop moved or added to make it as easy as possible [for passengers to access] and that [request] was declined. I’m not happy about it. We should be better partners than that,” Driscoll said. 

However, there will be access to micro-mobility alternatives with e-scooters and bikes. 

Mory said the operators will relocate the payment booth from the Basin to the Port. 

Also, the city has allocated $250,000 to go towards the construction of a permanent dock, Miller said. 

The infrastructure buildout may take up to three years at the identified site. 

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  1. Avatar

    Hugh Hazeltine

    October 3, 2023at6:58 am

    I was in a meeting where a city administrator said the location permit in the Vinoy basin comes from Pinellas County Government.

  2. Avatar

    Raymond Baker

    October 2, 2023at4:13 pm

    Only government could FUBAR this simple thing this badly. What’s wrong with continuing operations where they are right now? “Oh, they didn’t say pretty, pretty, pretty please to the petty bureaucrats.” C’mon, its been operating without issue now for several years from the Vinoy Basin. What’s the problem? Folks, aka taxpayers, like the current location(s). It is popular, and moves folks between two places they want to be, downtown Tampa and the heart of downtown St. Pete. Its a huge plus for both cities. Moving (banishing) to the Port would add probably 30-45 minutes to many trips if folks use the Looper and then walk another quarter-plus mile each way. Bet it would cut ridership in half. Not very ADA friendly either. You wanna build a gagillion dollar dock downtown? Fine, you pay for it. I’m happy with what we have right now.

  3. Avatar


    October 2, 2023at3:52 pm

    Port St. Pete is a marvelous location. It’s near the Looper, free parking, one doesn’t get stuck in the Pier traffic and yet it’s really downtown. Plus there are multiple ways to drive there if one way is backed up.

  4. Avatar


    October 2, 2023at11:49 am

    Why can’t the city add the stop at the Pier? There’s that public boat dock that is always empty facing the Vinoy at the Pier.

  5. Avatar

    Paul Wyrick

    October 2, 2023at10:16 am

    I think the ferry is a great idea, but I failed to understand why the city continues to give tons of money to a ferry company that does not use any local crew?
    There are thousands of credentialed merchant mariners in the Tampa Bay area. That should be doing these jobs which our tax money is going towards.

  6. Avatar

    Ray Hixon

    October 1, 2023at5:05 pm

    The permanent ferry dock was supposed to be part of the new Pier, but the new Pier was constructed without that [infrastructure],” City Councilmember Gina Driscoll said during the Sept. 28 council meeting.
    Typical of St. Petersburg incompetent management. No wonder they are trying to give the marina aeay

  7. Avatar


    October 1, 2023at1:10 pm

    When they say “identified site,” I really hope they’re talking about The Pier.

  8. Avatar

    Ron Melton

    October 1, 2023at10:23 am

    I like the ferry where it’s located now at the North Basin.

  9. Avatar


    October 1, 2023at8:42 am

    Why is this just now surfacing and why are they just now dealing with it? If it was a temp location this shouldn’t be a surprise exercise on where to find an alternate port. Idiots. You can kiss ridership on the ferry goodbye. Great job council 👏

  10. Avatar


    October 1, 2023at6:52 am

    That is the end of that. What stupidity.

  11. Avatar


    October 1, 2023at6:21 am

    The ferry will loose all last minute foot traffic walking DTSP, Vinoy, the pier, ect. If it’s moved to a hidden location.

  12. Avatar


    September 30, 2023at9:35 pm

    Moronic that infrastructure was not incorporated into the new pier.

  13. Avatar


    September 30, 2023at8:28 pm

    Well that’s the end of that ferry service. RIP.

  14. Avatar

    Richard Winning

    September 30, 2023at5:45 pm

    I think thr city should reconsider as the Ferry brings so much to downtown and the port is not as convenient and walkable to all St Petersburg has to offer.

  15. Avatar

    David B.

    September 30, 2023at5:14 pm

    The Port is a much less central location for the ferry dock. Dumb idea.

  16. Avatar

    Margie Manning

    September 30, 2023at5:01 pm

    Please include a map indicating where the Port of St. Petersburg is located, or at minimum a description other than “near downtown”.

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