Tampa — Streetcar Funding Problems
The Tampa streetcar line is suffering from decreases in property tax revenue, the depletion of its $5 million endowment fund, and falling ridership. Shutting the system down would be expensive as some of the federal investment of $55 million would have to be repaid.
"It's running," Tampa Mayor Buckhorn told the Tampa Tribune. "We've got to find a way to make it successful." Two opposite views are held about the line:
One view finds the streetcar adds character to downtown Tampa, helps recruit conferences to the Tampa Convention Center, and draws business to retailers close to the line. Holders of this view would like to see the line extended into a loop through downtown to heighten its functionality.
The other view expresses concern about the annual operatin cost of $1.5 million of which only 45 percent is covered by fares. However, no transit system in America covers its costs from farebox revenues.
Residential development along the line has been heavy creating more potential riders for the system, but cutbacks in hours of service and frequency could have a negative effect.
A city study reports that $1 billion of business development has occurred along the line since 2005.
City government and transit officials are weighing options for the continued funding of the line's operating costs.