Since 2016, Tampa Bay Ferry has been showcasing Tampa Bay’s waterfront communities thanks to support from the City of Madeira Beach. This fledgling public-private partnership made Madeira Beach the leader for Waterborne Transportation in South Pinellas County.
On Monday afternoon, the City of Madeira Beach’s Board of Commission decided in a 4-1 consensus to defund the Madeira Beach Water Taxi and sever the city contract.
With this decision, the vision for waterborne transportation moving people along the Gulf beaches has suffered a huge setback. Despite neighboring communities have embraced the concept, today it dies in Madeira Beach.
The goal was to connect Clearwater to St. Pete Beach by water, and eventually continue on to Anna Maria Island and; for Madeira Beach residents to get on a boat and ride to John’s Pass (for free) and for residents and visitors to experience our community in a way that has historically been available for only the privileged and wealthiest among us. Without this water taxi, visitors now have to drive and pay to park to visit waterfront attractions like John’s Pass as well as local restaurants and beaches.
The ramifications will be felt by tourist and local resident alike as more vehicles will populate the already congested Gulf Boulevard. With the loss of this partnership, Tampa Bay Ferry’s Madeira Beach Water Taxi will discontinue service and the owners will sell (or relocate) assets in 60 days, at the end of the summer.
Right now and for the next 60 days, the water taxi will continue to transport guests from hotels in North Madeira and Treasure Island to John’s Pass while their cars remain at their homes and hotels, and off the roads. Guests ride the taxi to John’s Pass to avoid paying to park and to have a good time along the way.
John’s Pass Village is the largest free waterfront destination on the west coast of Florida. Despite the ample waterfront, John’s Pass is not open for non-commercial vessels. Visitors must struggle to find and then pay for parking in order to experience the Pass. With the absence of the Madeira Beach Water Taxi, access to John’s Pass Village by water will be over. And losing this access is a shame for a waterfront community.
About Tampa Bay Ferry: Founded in October 2016 and created in partnership by The City of Madeira Beach and Hubbard’s Marina, Tampa Bay Ferry services Madeira Beach, Treasure Island, and St. Petersburg. The ferry offers residents and visitors an alternative and entertaining transportation option via the intercostal waterway. For more information about the ferry service please visit TampaBayFerry.com. The best way to see the bay!
About Hubbard’s Marina: Founded in 1928 by Capt. Wilson Hubbard, and operated today by the 3rd and 4th generation, Hubbard’s Marina is the premier destination for fishing and family fun. Hubbard’s offers 5, 10, 12, 39, 44, and 63 hour fishing trips, private charters, dolphin watching, a sunset cruise with free beer and wine, beach shelling, kayaks, paddle boards and more. For more information, please visit HubbardsMarina.com. The best way to see the sea!