Monday, October 24, 2016

Route of the Week: The TECO Line Streetcar System

Map of the TECO Line Streetcar System
With a diverse service area roughly the size of Rhode Island, Hillsborough County provides a great mix of urban, suburban and rural destinations for our riders. Think about the destinations that you can see and experience with the HART transportation network!

This week we highlight one of the nation's smallest light rail systems, the TECO Line Streetcar System. That's right, the Streetcar! The system follows all of the same standards and guidelines as all of the rest of the nation's light rail systems.

The TECO Line Streetcar is a 2.7 mile line connecting the employment, dining, and entertainment destinations in Ybor City, the Channel District (including Port of Tampa Bay and Channelside Bay Plaza,) and Downtown Tampa. The TECO Line Streetcar features 11 stations, each equipped with Ticket Vending Machines.

Streetcars actually have deep roots in Tampa's history. Tampa's first electric streetcar lines built in 1892 quickly became an essential part of everyday life as workers took the streetcar downtown and to the cigar factories of west Tampa. And families climbed aboard for a picnic or ball game in DeSoto and Macfarlane parks. Reaching the peak of its popularity in the 1920s with almost 24 million passengers in 1926, Tampa's streetcar system rolled to a stop in August 1946 following World War II.

The Tampa Streetcar was reborn via a grassroots effort and on October 19, 2002, streetcars once again rumbled down the cobblestone streets of Ybor City.

Weekday service extended until midnight for Arena events!
Today, the Streetcar serves a number of entertainment and dining options. Here is just a sampling:
  • The Florida Aquarium
  • Amalie Arena  (Weekday service extended until midnight for Arena events)
  • Tampa Convention Center
  • Centro Ybor
  • The Columbia Restaurant
  • Tampa Bay Brewing Company
  • District Tavern
  • The Tampa Riverwalk
  • Tampa Bay History Center
  • The Bricks Ybor
  • Port Tampa Bay

Visitors will also appreciate the access to hotels along the route:
  • Le Meridien
  • Hilton Tampa
  • Marriott Waterside
  • Embassy Suites by Hilton
  • Aloft Hotel
  • Sheraton Riverwalk
  • Hampton Inn & Suites - Ybor
  • Hilton Garden Inn Tampa

In September 2016, the TECO Line Streetcar System expanded weekday service (as a pilot) to begin operating at 7 a.m. With the launch of this pilot project, the Streetcar became a viable commuting option for those living and working along the line. The Streetcar serves a variety of employment centers in Downtown Tampa and Ybor City including:
  • One Tampa City Center
  • University of South Florida CAMLS
  • SunTrust Corporate Center
  • Ashley Furniture E-Commerce Facility
  • Amalie Arena
  • Tampa City Hall
  • Rivergate Tower
  • Bank of America Plaza
  • Hillsborough Community College - Ybor Campus

20-Ride Pass

Live or work along the streetcar line? Residents and workers can purchase a special 20-ride pass for only $25! That's 50% off the regular fare. Click here for a list of sales outlets.

Looking Ahead

Currently, the City of Tampa is working with the Florida Department of Transportation to study a possible extension and modernization of the streetcar line.

From Amalie Arena, to the Aloft Hotel, HART Takes You There.

HART to Partner with FDOT on Downtown Autonomous Circulator!

Downtown Autonomous Circulator will operate along Marion Transitway
HART has teamed up with FDOT to address current mobility needs in Downtown Tampa

FDOT has indicated that up to $1 million in funding will be available to fund an Autonomous Vehicle (AV) Circulator Service connection between Marion Transit Center (MTC) to Downtown Tampa along the low speed, controlled access Marion Street Transitway. This project would be one of the first of its kind in the U.S. utilizing autonomous technology and has the potential to solve local transportation issues.

"FDOT is working together with our communities to promote the use of autonomous technologies," FDOT District Seven Secretary Paul Steinman said. "Our mission is to help solve the transportation needs of our area utilizing all transportation modes, while maximizing the use of the funding sources available. We are very excited about this project."

This funding gives HART the opportunity to take the first step in a major technology project and, working with third party providers, to bring Autonomous Vehicle Technology to the Tampa Bay region. For the next two years, HART will receive $500,000 each year from FDOT to fund the project. Funding for a third year will depend on the success of the program.

"We want to thank FDOT Secretary Paul Steinman for his leadership in helping HART receive up to $1 million in funding from the Florida Department of Transportation for this service," HART Chief Financial Officer Jeff Seward said. "We will utilize our experience in multi-modal solutions to work with our partners to provide much-needed relief to address mobility needs in Downtown Tampa."
This project is part of a larger vision that HART has to bring innovative technology to the Tampa Bay area while diversifying its array of options to deliver service to the Tampa Bay region. Autonomous vehicles can supplement the HART transit network with first-mile last-mile service, or enhance options to underserved areas.

In late November, HART plans to conduct an Industry day for interested parties, which will coincide with the fourth Annual Florida Automated Vehicles Summit in Downtown Tampa, an event dedicated to highlighting Florida's progress in preparing for automated vehicles.

The Downtown Autonomous Circulator Service project will complement local service provided by existing routes.

HART is committed to innovative solutions to solve our region's transportation issues!