Tampa — Streetcar Extensions
Rail Transit Online, March 2004
Planning is continuing for extensions to
the 2.3-mi. (3.7 km) TECO Line Streetcar, although the first expansion may
not get underway until 2007 when funding is expected to become available.
The initial project would take the track from the current terminal at the
Southern Transportation Plaza along Franklin Street to Whiting Street,
terminating near a parking structure. A consultant study estimates the
extension, costing $6 million to $7 million, could attract another 100,000
annual riders with a minimal increase in operating expenses. Approximately
$4.5 million in various grants have already been identified but the
Hillsborough Area Regional Transit Authority must still find the remainder.
Further development of the streetcar beyond Whiting Street is now only in
the conceptual stage, although a long-range plan has penciled in a line
continuing north through downtown and Tampa Heights, turning east to meet
the existing line in Ybor City. The director of the local metropolitan
planning organization, Lucie Ayer, says the TECO Line has encouraged
economic development. “Little by little, this is going to happen in a
positive way,” Ayer told the Tampa Tribune. “I believe there is support to
swing north from downtown to Whiting and possibly beyond.” But Tampa Mayor
Pam Iorio said there won’t be any city money available for expansion.
“While I'm very supportive of the streetcar, we as a city government do not
have a pot of capital dollars to put into expansion of the streetcar,” Iorio
told the Tribune. She also warned against expecting the city to cover
operating deficits for extensions as it does for the initial line, which has
a farebox return of just 20 percent.