Tampa Streetcars

Tampa streetcar line opens new station

By TED JACKOVICS | The Tampa Tribune / Published: January 31, 2011 / Updated: 01/31/2011 02:41 pm

Officials today celebrated the grand opening of the $5.3 million extension of the TECO Streetcar Line from Channelside to a business district station on Whiting Street with a call for further expansion of transit.

The one-third mile extension that opened in late December extends the streetcar line to 2.7 miles from its eastern terminus in Ybor City and provides a closer link to downtown activity.

Local officials expect once downtown employees and visitors become better aware of the extension, it will generate more ridership to Channelside and Ybor City restaurant and entertainment venues and enhance the city's competitive position to draw conferences and conventions.

"We can't stop here," U.S. Rep Kathy Castor, D-Tampa said, calling for an extension of the streetcar line to the David A. Straz Jr. Center for the Performing Arts, the Curtis Hixon Waterfront Park, the Childrens' Museum and to the proposed high-speed rail station.

Tampa Mayor Pam Iorio agreed the streetcar extension into the business district is an important downtown element and called for renewed efforts to build a light rail line and modernize the bus system to enhance Tampa's transit opportunities.

Since it began operation in 2002, the streetcar has been a focal point of local rail transit critics who say its ridership revenue does not sufficiently cover operating expenses.

The 2011 budget for the Hillsborough Area Regional Transit Authority, which operates the streetcar, projected that 430,000 passengers this year would generate $623,550 in fare revenue compared with $2.1 million in expenses. Revenues also come from a downtown assessment district and an endowment.

Peter Rogoff, the administrator of the Federal Transit Administration, pointed to $1.2 billion in economic development along the original 2.4 mile streetcar line, along with visitor-related jobs at nearby hotels as a rationale for the streetcar.

Streetcars aren't the fastest transportation option, but do an exemplary job in revitalizing downtowns and creating jobs, he said.

(813) 259-7817


click photos to enlarge

A streetcar runs along the new Whiting Street extension, that makes the line 2.7 miles long.
all Tampa photos




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