If the first month is any indication, both of St. Pete’s experiments in novel ways to get around will be a success.
According to figures provided to the St. Petersburg Council on Thursday, a total of 7,491 passengers rode the Cross-Bay Ferry during November. And riders have taken 1,378 trips using St. Pete’s bike share program.
Both programs are a way to relieve traffic congestion for residents while also providing another attractor for tourists.
The bike-share program, run by Coast Bikes, provides 100 rental bikes at 10 hubs around the city. The bikes can be rented by the hour or regulars can buy monthly memberships.
City figures indicate that, in November, the bikes were used for an average of 46 trips a day with the average trip being 2.5 miles long. The bikes traveled a total of about 3,500 miles last month.
The most popular hub is proving to be at the Vinoy – 18 percent of the trips originated there and 21 percent ended there.
The Cross-Bay ferry, which takes passengers from St. Petersburg to Tampa, is a six-month pilot project designed to meet several goals. One is to provide commuters with an easy alternative to driving across congested bridges on the way to work in downtown Tampa. It’s also seen as a way to entice tourists from Tampa to spend the day in St. Pete and vice versa.
St. Petersburg Council member Jim Kennedy said he was pleased to see the Cross-Bay ferry was off to a good start. Now the city must figure out a way to continue and build on that momentum after the pilot portion of the project has concluded. Kennedy said he does not see the ferry ever becoming independent and self-sustaining without outside help.
“We have real challenges, even with the great numbers,” Kennedy said. The challenge is “to take it from the pilot project and make it transportation.”
Kenendy said that he thinks one key to have people see the ferry as a true form of transportation is to have a minimum of four of them so they can make more frequent trips.
The city, he said, needs to figure out how to get more boats and to come up with a reasonable expectation of how successful the ferry can be in the future.