TECO Line Streetcar System
|TECO Line Streetcar System|
A TECO streetcar picking up passengers in Ybor City
Centennial Park Station
|Website||TECO Line Streetcar System|
|Opening||October 19, 2002|
|Owner||City of Tampa|
|Line length||2.7 mi (4.35 km)|
|Track gauge||4 ft 8 1⁄2 in (1,435 mm)|
The TECO Line Streetcar System is a heritage streetcar transit line in Tampa, Florida, run by the Hillsborough Area Regional Transportation Authority owned by the City of Tampa and managed by Tampa Historic Streetcar, Inc. It connects Downtown and Channelside to the historic Ybor City district. There is also an "In-Town" trolley-replica bus system that connects Downtown, Channelside, and Harbour Island.
The line opened on October 19, 2002. The line is 2.7 mi (4.35 km) long with 11 stations. The system is single-track with several passing sidings. The track mostly follows a reserved right-of-way at a cost of 13.7 million per mile including eight streetcars. The cars themselves costing $600,000 each. Annual insurance cost is $400,000 liability. (2012) most of that cost is the requirement by CSX Transportation for insurance to cross over their freight tracks at Fifth Avenue and also 13th street.
Tampa's first electric streetcars were introduced in 1892. Streetcars in Tampa reached their peak of popularity in the 1920s, with almost 24 million passengers carried in 1926. The first line shut down on August 4, 1946. The first streetcar system used the Birney Safety Car and, probably, other streetcar types.
Streetcars returned to Tampa in 2002, when the initial 2.4 mi (3.86 km) long heritage line was opened. Its operating costs are financed through a "Special tax assessment" (.33 per thousand) on businesses in the streetcar district and a streetcar endowment stemming from settlement money received in 2006 by the city for the demolition of the Harbor Island People Mover.
In its first year of operation, the streetcar carried 420,000 riders, 20% more than projected. In 2005, 434,498 passengers used the streetcar. In 2011, Streetcar ridership from October 2011 through May is down 8.3 percent to 265,148 with a total for the year of 358,737 riders.
A new 0.333 mi (0.54 km) extension, costing $5.5 million, opened for revenue service on December 19, 2010. The extension runs north along Franklin Street to Whiting Street and the Fort Brooke parking garage, connecting the Convention Center as well as the rest of the TECO Line to the downtown core.
- Whiting (connection to Routes 14 and 30; access to Fort Brooke parking garage)
- Dick Greco Plaza (connection to In-Town Trolley Purple Line (weekday peak service) to various points in downtown Tampa, Harbour Island, & Channelside; signed as TRANSPORTATION PLAZA on rollsigns)
- The Tampa Tribune
- Cumberland Avenue
- York Street
- Port Authority
- Cadrecha Plaza
- Streetcar Society
- Tampa Bay Federal Credit Union
- Centennial Park
The system has eleven operating streetcars: nine modern replica double-truck Birney cars, one restored original Birney car, and one replica open-bench "Breezer". All except the original Birney were built by the Gomaco Trolley Company.
The replica Birney cars have a welded steel body with cosmetic rivets added to make them look older. The cars are wheelchair-accessible, air-conditioned and have automated stop announcements. The seats are made of wood and are reversible for when the car changes direction. The cars are also equipped with on-board ticket dispensers; however, they do not provide change.
The one original Birney was found in Sulphur Springs, a neighborhood in Tampa. When the car was found it was being used as an apartment. After extensive restoration the car is back to its former condition and is used for special events.
The agency that operates the streetcar is a non-profit. On October 22, 2014, the Tampa Bay Times published an editorial on the leverage a subsidy the Tampa Port Authority gives to the streetcar system. However it also wrote that the system "is not dependent" on the subsidy. They also reported that the system has to pay almost half a million dollars in insurance to cover the risk of streetcars crossing an active freight rail line.
- "Downtown Network Map - Downtown Network of Services" (pdf). Hillsborough Area Regional Transit (HART). 2012. Retrieved 2013-08-18.
- "TECO Line Streetcar System – Streetcar System". TECOline Streetcar System. 2012. Retrieved 2013-08-18.
- "Streetcar system reaches more of downtown Tampa". Tampa Bay Business Journal. December 17, 2010. Retrieved 2011-01-24.
- "Editorial: Tampa trolley gets helpful push". Tampa Bay Times. October 22, 2014. Retrieved 2014-10-25.
The Tampa Port Authority's decision to withhold a subsidy from the downtown streetcar until the trolley system comes up with a stronger business plan could be a helpful turning point for this key public asset. The port should use this leverage, though, to make the trolley much more integral to the remaking of the Channel District.
Media related to TECO Line Streetcar System at Wikimedia Commons