Tampa — Tax May Fund Streetcar Expansion
A possible half-cent tax for transit in Hillsborough County which includes Tampa in west-central Florida could mean various mass transit improvements including modernization and extension of the downtown
Tampa to Ybor City heritage streetcar line. The line is now operated by Gomaco Trolley of Iowa -built double truck replica Birneys cars. The Tampa Tribune reports that County commissioners could decide April 6 whether to place the sales tax referendum on the November 2016 ballot to raise $117 million annually.
A year-long study called Go Hillsborough worked on creating a comprehensive transportation plan for the region. The plan breaks the county down into four regions — northwest, northeast, southeast and -Temple Terrace. Proposals for those areas were developed after the county took public comments at 86 workshops, four telephone town halls and other venues.
The Tampa part of the plan calls for two major projects: extending and modernizing the streetcar system plus a commuter rail line connecting downtown to the airport. Proceeds of the tax could amount to nearly $20 million and could furnish the local match to secure federal funding.
There is an unprecedented growth in residential development in downtown Tampa making high quality transit a key component in attracting young professionals to the city.
With funding from the tax, the streetcar could be converted to use modern arituclated cars and be extended north to the Marion Transit Center, Hillsborough’s main commuter bus station, or even farther north to Tampa Heights.
Annual proceeds of the tax would also help fund additional bus service.