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City Signs St. Johns Ferry Over To JTA

Ryan Benk

The St. Johns River Ferry is now under the control of the Jacksonville Transportation Authority. The city signed over ownership Wednesday.

But without more funding for renovations, the ferry’s fate is far from certain.

Formerly known as the Mayport Ferry, it transported more than 400,000 pedestrians, cars, bicycles and motorcycles between Mayport Village and St. George Island during the last fiscal year. Jacksonville City Councilman John Crescimbeni said the new deal ensures it keeps going for another 50 years.

“I think we’re giving them a product that’s much better than what we inherited in October of 2012, and hopefully they’ll continue to grow the ridership and revenues of this ferry because I don't ever want to see this not being part of the fabric of Jacksonville ever,” Crescimbeni said.

The ferry gives commuters on State Road A1A a way to get to work. But for many riders, it’s more than a way to get from point A to point B.

Joel Sharrit, a man with a bushy white mustache and wire-rim glasses, is holding his grandson, whose experiencing his first ride on the ferry. He and his wife travel down from Ohio to visit family every year.

“I don’t know. It’s just kind of a nice way to get off the main highway and head over and actually see some of Florida along the coast,” he said.

The new agreement ensures Sharrit’s scenic experience is safe for now. But the ferry still needs to bring in new revenue to cover repairs to its docks. JTA plans to launch an app and marketing campaign to increase ridership.

State lawmakers have approved $1 million to match a federal grant, but the governor vetoed it.

Now JTA is hoping to get a federal grant to cover that match with local funds.