The Florida Department of Transportation decided not to donate money to the Mayport Ferry, which is in danger of shutting down completely.
St. Johns River Task Force Chair Elaine Brown said they need $200,000 by September 30th to keep it running.
She said they’re not discouraged enough to give up. They want to collect the remaining funds and try to extend the deadline for another year.
“We need that one year to really do what we can to market the ferry,” she said. “It’s about marketing it and getting ridership up. That will really make a difference for the ferry.”
The City Council recently created the Ferry Commission which will take over the ferry on September 30. Brown said they hope it will not only be able to market the ferry and get the operations costs down, but “make it something even more valuable and viable for Northeast Florida.”
The Task Force has announced a music, art and food festival that will take place at Mayport on August 25th.
Brown said they hope it will bring in donations and public support while celebrating the ferry. Pedestrians can ride the ferry for free that day.
They want to let Governor Rick Scott know that “we’re still going to calling on the state for state help in the future.”
She said donations have already been coming in from Jacksonville Beach, Atlantic Beach and private donations.
Closing the ferry, Brown said, would be harmful to the 30 ferry workers as well as the local Mayport restaurants which thrive on ferry-goers.
On a daily basis, Brown said 4,500 people use the ferry, which links Florida Highway A1A across the St. Johns River. The U.S. Navy uses it the most, according to Brown.
The ferry is also part of the 3,000 mile East Coast Greenway biking and hiking trail which runs from Key West to Maine.