The St. Johns River Ferry still runs.
Nearly one year after budgetary squabbling between the Florida Dept. of Transportation and JaxPort threatened to end operations of the state’s only remaining river ferry, the City of Jacksonville and the St. Johns River Ferry Commission have kept the Jean Ribault in fuel and repairs.
An essential part of the transportation system that keeps Jacksonville connected to Mayport Village, the ferry is just as importantly a priceless part of north Florida history.
Fundraising & raising awareness ongoing
Earlier this month, the St. Johns Riverkeeper sponsored the second “Save the St. Johns River Ferry” bike ride, where 90 cyclists each paid the $1 fare to ride the ferry on the 16-mile route from Jacksonville Beach to Fort George Island Cultural State Park and back.
The Riverkeeper sponsors the annual event to highlight the ferry’s importance in recreation and conservation.
In addition to its place in the history and in tourism of the area, the St. John’s River Ferry is integral to developing the East Coast Greenway, 3,000 miles of recreational trails that run from Maine to Key West that will link all of all the major cities of the Eastern Seaboard.
History versus economics
Despite the best efforts of groups like Friends of the St. Johns River Ferry Association, the Riverkeeper and the Commission, the ferry still operates at a loss, with annual operating expenses of about $700,000.
In 2012, FDOT spokesman Mike Goldman called the budget shortfalls “a local problem” and the primary reason that the State would not fund the ferry.
Even after the task force succeeded in securing $400,000 from the Jacksonville Port Authority and the cash-strapped city of Jacksonville to continue operations.
The state’s decision to refuse funding followed an FDOT study of ferry ridership commissioned in April 2012.
The study found that 250,000 vehicles – and some 400,000 passengers – traveled on the St. Johns River Ferry, generating an estimated $1.25 million in fares to go to fund the ferry’s operation.
Meanwhile the St. Johns River Ferry Commission continues looking for money while it develops a business plan to market the ferry and develop its potential as a tourist attraction.
Operating the St. Johns River Ferry preserves an important part of Florida history and represents significant tourist dollars in short supply in Mayport and elsewhere in Greater Jacksonville.
In operation since 1949, the St. Johns River Ferry is the only ferry still running in the state of Florida.
Read more about it
- 09/11/2012 – Hollywood gives Green Cove a miss, JaxPort hands Mayport ferry back to Jax
- 08/01/2012 – State Won’t Fund Historic Ferry
- 04/24/2012 – Grow ferry-based tourism, save the Mayport ferry
- 03/02/2012 – Ferry Update: It’s down to numbers now
- 02/14/2012 – First the ferry, now A1A
- 02/10/2012 – Jax Mayor whistling Dixie on Mayport ferry
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OFFICIAL BIO: K Truitt is a second-generation, native Floridian born in Jacksonville. Truitt worked in public higher education for 25 years and knows newspaper publishing, printing and graphic design. Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org