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Reduced congestion by 3,000 daily commuters

The MacDill AFB Commuter will be able to carry more than 3,000 daily commuters, taking traffic off our congested roadways from South County to South Tampa. This would result in a reduction of millions of miles of vehicle miles travelled on our roadways each year. The intercity service will also take trips off crowded bridges during weeknight rush hours as ferry riders opt to travel by ferry instead of car.

Reduced travel time by over 30 minutes

The MacDill AFB Commuter will cut daily travel time by 30 minutes or more for many MacDill AFB commuters and cut their cost to nearly zero for those eligible for the ferry voucher.

Saving taxpayer dollars

The Cross Bay Ferry Plan will create new transportation capacity for significantly less cost than expanding existing roadways. It will also be less expensive and faster than other transit alternatives. It also allows our local governments to tap into federal funds for this new service.

Economic benefits

The Ferry Plan will make it easier for Tampa Bay residents to get to dining, museums, cultural and sports events and shops than by driving. The Intercity service plan can move over one million passengers annually. We also know that 60% of the users of the current system ONLY went to their destination city because they could travel by ferry, and most ferry passengers spent more than $40 per person.

Environmental benefits

By taking so many cars off our roadways, the ferries will reduce major pollutants, including carbon dioxide and nitrogen oxides. The former contributes to global warming while the latter is a major pollutant to Tampa Bay that causes eutrophication and sea grass death.

Hurricane recovery

Our fleet of passenger ferries can provide important and immediate post-hurricane relief and recovery assistance to areas hit by damaging hurricanes such as Ian.

Costs & Financing

Hillsborough County has the lead responsibility for facilitating the capital financing of the Ferry Project once design and permitting is completed. The Ferry Project will likely be eligible for a variety of federal and state funds to pay for the capital costs, which could cover 80% or more of these costs. By example, the County and HART were able to secure a $4.9 million grant for a 350 passenger ferry vessel in 2022, for which Hillsborough County pledged a 20% local match.

HMS will be responsible for operating and maintaining the ferry system once it is built. HMS has indicated that it would be able to do this from system revenues without the need for state or local operating subsidies. This would mean the Cross Bay Ferry commuter and intercity system would be the only public transit system in Florida that would not need local or state funds to operate. The Ferry Plan does rely upon the availability of federal transit vouchers for federal employees that make use of the MAFB commuter. Such vouchers are already being used by MAFB employees for HART’s MAFB express bus service.

Both the County’s capital contribution and HMS’ assumption of operating and maintenance costs will be finalized at the complete of project design and permitting and incorporated into the terms and conditions of a comprehensive public private partnership agreement between Hillsborough County, HMS and South Swell.

Capital & Operating Costs

Hillsborough County undertook an independent evaluation of project costs in 2019. It estimated that the initial capital cost of the Ferry Plan would be $54 million by 2024, and that it would cost $5.8 million to operate annually. These cost estimates will be refined through the development of the project, and final project capital and operating costs quantified prior to entering into a comprehensive public private partnership agreement between Hillsborough County, HMS and South Swell. Such an agreement will have to satisfy Florida statutory requirements and identify all sources of capital and operating funding and the roles and responsibilities of the parties for all revenues and costs.
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