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St. Johns River Ferry Ridership On The Rise

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Lindsey Kilbride
/
WJCT News
Vehicles exit the St. Johns River Ferry Friday afternoon.

Ridership is increasing on Jacksonville’s St. Johns River Ferry. The future of the ferry had been uncertain until the public Jacksonville Transportation Authority took over ownership last year.

Nineteen vehicles were lined up waiting to board at Mayport Friday afternoon. John Wilson and his wife visiting from Georgia were relaxing with the windows down while they waited.

“(It’s our) First time,” he said. “(We) came down to eat at Safe Harbor, had a good meal and now we’re headed back to Fernandina.”

For Mark Hirst a few cars down, it was a normal work day. He uses the vehicle ferry to pick up seafood for a distributor.

“It’s just a quick, convenient way to get across the river,” he said.

As other cars, SUVs and a giant logging truck boarded the ferry, the crew said it’s been slammed lately.

JTA saw a 30 percent increase in riders from February to March, and spokeswoman Leigh Ann Rassler said last month riders took nearly 49,000 trips, another increase.

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Credit Lindsey Kilbride / WJCT News
The St. Johns River Ferry leaves Mayport Friday.

“(March and April) were the highest two-month, back-to-back periods in 17 years,” she said. “So we’ve seen a substantial increase in ridership.”

Rassler said the increase could partly be because of the JTA TryTransit campaign challenging people to try public transit, or because the ferry looks nicer with recent renovations and new landscaping around the entrance ramps.

She said JTA wants to learn more from riders.

“(We’re asking) if you’re taking it for pleasure or recreation, where are you going? How often do you ride it? Is this your first time riding it?” she said. “That will help us to market the ferry better in the future.”

She said customers can expect those questions in a survey in July.

Reporter Lindsey Kilbride can be reached at lkilbride@wjct.org, 904-358-6359 or on Twitter at @lindskilbride.