“That would have been the last run of the ferry… and it would have been gone forever,” says Ferry Task Force Chair Elaine Brown.
Instead, now the Mayport Ferry kicks off a new phase Sunday under new ownership.
Through contributions from Jacksonville and JaxPort, the Ferry will stay afloat, under the ownership of the St. Johns River Ferry Commission led by City Councilman John Crescimbeni. The commission was recently created by Council to oversee ferry operations.
But the new ownership is not a long term solution, with funding a persistent problem in operating the Ferry. Brown says their main focus moving forward will be cutting operating costs while boosting ridership.
“We’re gunna really make the Ferry part of the community and something they look forward to riding,” she says.
Some of the promotions planned to make that happen include events around the Ferry docks, birthday rides, and special guest riders- she says Santa will swap his sleigh for the Ferry this year.
Right now they will continue to piece together funding, but Brown says they are already working on an appeal to legislators to try to get more permanent state funding.
The keys to the Ferry will be handed over on Sunday and the event is open to the public. It begins at 6 PM at Singletons Seafood Restaurant on the Mayport side of the St. Johns River, and the ceremony itself will take place at 8:45 PM. Brown says the event will celebrate this next step for the Ferry, and may have a few spooky surprises for all who attend.