Editorial: “This Was a Ferry, Ferry Good Week for Water Transit in Tampa Bay”
Yesterday, County Commission put the MacDill Air Force Base (MAFB) – South County commuter ferry project on a fast track. With a bit of luck and hard work, it will be operational by 2021. Then over 8,000 South County MAFB employees will be able to take a 15 minute, congestion proof, ferry trip across the bays to the base instead of a 40 minute trip around the bay.
It means a great boost to the quality of life for MAFB employees.
It means less traffic on U.S. 41, I-75, Bayshore and Dale Mabry for everyone else. In fact, a robust commuter ferry service to MAFB could free up so much capacity, it would be like building an entire lane of interstate from South County to MAFB, all for less than the cost of one interstate intersection, but with no community impacts.
It means greater connection between Tampa Bay’s top two cities, and the fast growing South County area for events, shopping, tourism and fun. That’s because when the commuter shifts end, those same ferries will turn to running evening and weekend service between Tampa, St. Petersburg and South County. That’s why the Cross Bay Ferry seasonal service makes so much sense — we can start developing the evening and weekend ferry market now and lay the foundation for successful permanent service. It also demonstrates another great part of ferries — unlike roads, bridges or rail lines — ferries can be moved around regularly to meet demand.
Finally, there is the environmental benefit — the MAFB commuter alone would cut greenhouse gas emissions by 10,000 tons annually, and reduce the amount of algae producing nitrous oxide pollutants falling into Tampa Bay.
That’s why great waterfront cities like Seattle, New York, and Sydney take full advantage of their waterways, and why it is great for Tampa Bay to be doing likewise.
For me, I’m proud to have introduced both the MAFB-South County and Cross Bay Ferry projects to our community. But this is just a start. As Mayor, ferries will become the standard and best way to get around and between the great communities along Tampa Bay’s waterfront.
Ferries are just one example of the assets we have failed to use as part of our transit mix. Common sense and sound policy needs to drive our future. If you are like me and want to see fast, common sense transit solutions pursued, I ask for your support. I will deliver a transit future that works, and help Tampa realize its potential as a great 21st century city.
For more information about Ed and his vision for the future of Tampa, visit www.edturanchik.com.