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New nonprofit will push for year-round Tampa Bay ferry service

The Tampa Bay Ferry Alliance is led by Tanya Doran, the former president and CEO of the Greater Riverview Chamber of Commerce.

A ferry terminal is preliminarily planned to be constructed on land donated by Mosaic just north of Apollo Beach, with a parking lot accommodating at least 1,200 cars. Commuter ferry service from there to MacDill Air Force Base would mean military personnel living in the South Hillsborough County area could avoid commuting on the Lee Roy Selmon Expressway.

St. Petersburg and Tampa are already connected via ferry on nights and weekends, but the service ends in May every year. The route has attracted 300,000 rides since 2016.

"Permanent, regional ferry service in Tampa Bay is almost a decade in the making, but until now, our region has yet to make it a reality," the nonprofit's website says. "Enough talk. Time is ticking away as the entire area continues to experience tremendous growth and development, and Tampa Bay cannot wait any longer to deliver reliable, cost-efficient, and sustainable community resources that we know will deliver results."

Doran said in an interview that the South Hillsborough County terminal would have a substantial economic impact. A public-private partnership agreement spelling out who would pay for the service — and how much — hasn't come to fruition yet. Hillsborough County Commissioners Michael Owen and Joshua Wostal voted not to procure a new ferry boat at a February Hillsborough Area Regional Transit Authority meeting.

The Tampa Bay Ferry Alliance isn't affiliated with the current Cross Bay Ferry service run by HMS Ferries, but Doran highlighted the importance of the operator's experience.

"We want experts running the service," Doran said. "That's the beauty of a public-private partnership. I would encourage everyone to be open to innovation."

Survey results from MacDill Air Force employees inspired Doran to take the job — currently the nonprofit's only employee. She said she looks forward to learning more.

The nonprofit's board includes the following people:

  • Michael Ball (chairman), financial adviser at Edward Jones
  • Bryce Bowden, Hillsborough County Planning commissioner and commercial Realtor at Turner Cole Co.
  • Joe Eletto, residential Realtor at Century 21 Beggins Enterprises
  • Fred Fallman, retired MacDill Air Force deputy director for mission support
  • Kelly Flannery, South Tampa Chamber president and CEO
  • Chris Steinocher, St. Petersburg Chamber of Commerce president and CEO
  • Nancy Stevens, environmental advocate and Tampa Bay Sierra Club conservation chair
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