Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

FERRY; A Ray of Hope

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

FERRY; A Ray of Hope

Article excerpt

It was 1948. The Soviets blockaded Berlin. The state of Israel was born. South Africa adopted apartheid.

And, in the tiny Florida fishing village of Mayport, a ferry service was started, carrying motorists across the St. Johns River to Fort George Island and back.

The service continues to this day. But, unless a new funding source is found, it will cease operations Oct. 1.

The best hope - the only one, really - is for the Jacksonville Port Authority to take responsibility for it.


The chances looked remote. But that changed Monday, when several ferry supporters made a plea during a Jaxport board meeting.

Board members had already promised to vote July 23 on whether to operate the service. But, as supporters spoke, the board may have tipped its hand.

Chairman Tony Nelson hinted Jaxport would do it.

Board member Jerry Davis flatly said the board should do it.

In his opinion, Davis added, the service wouldn't even need subsidies if it were run "like a business."

That's significant.

Until now, it had been assumed that the ferry would lose a lot of money and the question was who would absorb the "hit."

The state refused. The city refused. Jaxport initially said it might get involved. But, in the words of spokeswoman Nancy Rubin, it wasn't willing to "hemorrhage money" for the ferry.

A search was launched for others willing to share the losses - and a JTA spokesman said he thought his board might consider it, if necessary to keep the ferry.

If the ferry can be made a break-even enterprise, like Davis thinks, all of that will be a moot point.


Several ideas were floated at the Jaxport meeting - raise fares, sell advertising and do a better job of marketing, for example. Souvenirs might be sold, and perhaps people would pay for scenic "sunset tours" down the river on a ferry.

Former Atlantic Beach Mayor John Meserve had a salient point when he said marketing is the key - and Jaxport is good at it. …

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