Forward Pinellas CAC approved a motion to move forward with research into the feasibility of advancing our current water transportation system. The Cross Bay Ferry is apart of this system.
- Pinellas SPOTlight Emphasis Areas Update Regarding the SPOTLight emphasis areas, Access to Beaches, the Town of Indian Shores approved the preferred alternative for sidewalks on Gulf Boulevard. They chose a sidewalk with a bike lane on both sides of the road and two travel lanes. Forward Pinellas is also working with FDOT staff to add this project to the new fifth year of the Draft Tentative Work Program. Forward Pinellas staff has been holding individual meetings with the Waterborne Transportation subcommittee members regarding the draft policy for Waterborne Transportation and will present the committee’s recommendations to the Forward Pinellas Board this spring.
Future Routes / Maps
Forward Pinellas staff presented the amendments to the Waterborne Transportation Section of the Advantage Pinellas 2045 Long Range Transportation Plan (LRTP)
Forward Pinellas staff presented proposed amendments to the Waterborne Transportation section of the Advantage Pinellas 2045 Long Range Transportation Plan (LRTP), including the incorporation of a Systemwide Waterborne Vision and a Countywide Waterborne Transportation Policy. Though a key initiative under the Enhancing Beach Community Access SPOTlight Emphasis Area, the continuation and expansion of waterborne transportation services has had varying degrees of success due to funding uncertainty, unclear public investment priorities, and lack of program oversight.
The Waterborne Transportation Policy establishes clear criteria for the prioritization of waterborne transportation options employed in Pinellas County so that continued and expanded service may adequately serve our residents, visitors, and businesses alike. Other additions to the Waterborn Transportation Section include considerations related to waterborne service phasing and administrative roles and responsibilities for program performance, monitoring, and evaluation. The LRTP amendment will be brought back to the board in April for adoption.
- Commissioner Seel clarified with staff, including PSTA Chief Development Officer Cassandra Borchers, that though opportunities for privately owned and operated ferry services are available, they are not usually successful due to their need for high fares.
- Mr. Blanton added that there is currently a private ferry service, but it is not sustainable without some basic level of operating subsidy to keep the fares at a reasonable level.
- Mayor Buljalski noted that another goal for a countywide waterborne service is to connect ferry service with other transportation options, providing residents a truly connected network.
- Vice Mayor Merz confirmed with staff that the primary focus of any future waterborne services would be to alleviate congestion, connect communities, and support tourism, among other opportunities. Future service would start on an hourly basis during the initial Restart Plan. He also clarified that while Phase 1 of the Restart Plan includes operational costs alone due to reliance on private companies for the vessels, Phase 2 includes expanding service and new vessels.
- Mr. Blanton clarified that this Waterborne Transportation Policy enables the conversation of funding to continue but does not require a commitment for future funding.
The Forward Pinellas Board held this public meeting in person on March 9, 2022, at 1 p.m. in the Palm
Room at the Pinellas County Communications Building.
- Councilmember Gabbard and Mayor Buljalski clarified with staff that the role of the Waterborne Committee moving forward will be to continue oversight of the policy and exploring additional funding opportunities.
- Commissioner Seel and Commissioner Eggers agreed there could be potential benefits from a tourism standpoint, but encouraged staff to carefully consider funding sources and monitor efficiency.
- Mr. Blanton highlighted that this policy is an excellent opportunity to collaborate with multiple partners to find countywide solutions and can place us in a good position for federal funding.