Tampa Streetcar Sees Big Boost in Ridership
Angie Schmitt reports that ridership on Tampa’s streetcar has almost tripled in six months, thanks to a state grant of $2.7 million that allowed the city to make the streetcar free and increase service frequency.
The streetcar connects the Ybor City district to downtown Tampa, a 2.7-mile route, which now has about 1,700 daily riders. "That’s not a huge number, but it’s a far cry from when Tampa Bay Times columnist Sue Carlton called the streetcar, 'This city’s most charming boondoggle driven by what appear to be lonely Maytag repairmen,'" writes Schmitt.
The Downtown Looper in St. Petersburg, Florida, also received state funding that allowed for similar fare and service changes, and ridership is up on that system as well. While transit agencies in both cities are losing out on fare revenue, city officials say less congestion and more people spending money at local businesses make up for the losses.