MADEIRA BEACH – City leaders announced a plan Wednesday that they hope can alleviate traffic and parking congestion along Boca Ciega Bay’s beach communities. The plan involves regularly-scheduled water taxi service at nine stops around the bay starting in October.
"Pinellas County is built out, you're not going to build any new roads, no new bridges, yet density increases, tourism is booming and we have this issue with congestion on the roads,” said Captain Mark Hubbard, who runs the Tampa Bay Ferry & Taxi service. “We’ve been working on this since 1990 so I’m ready, I think Pinellas County is ready.”
"Taking cars off the road and having fun, 'transportainment' you could say, in this resort community,” added Hubbard, who hopes to expand water taxi service around Pinellas County to St. Pete Beach, Gulfport and downtown St. Petersburg. "Waterborne transportation is a no-brainer. We have all the water in the world, we have great channels. Most of our activities are near the water so it just makes sense."
As of right now, the ferries leave from John's Pass Village and will make 8 stops along Madeira Beach, St. Petersburg Treasure Island. Fares range from $20 to ride all day, to $10 for a one-ride trip from one stop to another. And since the city of Madeira Beach is helping pay for the service, city residents ride for half price.