Saturday, May 26, 2018
Transportation

Downtowner shuttle looks to meet growing demand with Chevy Bolts

TAMPA — Those free Downtowner shuttle rides in Tampa could be about to get an upgrade.

Buoyed by hitting the 100,000-rider benchmark in just seven months of operation, the Tampa Downtown Partnership is planning to expand the popular app-based service with the addition of four electric Chevrolet Bolts.

The all-electric car would improve upon shuttle rides with air conditioning and protection from the rain. The service's fleet of 12 golf cart-like vehicles called GEMs have doors but the windows are usually rolled down since there is no air conditioning.

Bolts can also run longer on a single charge, about 230 miles, compared to the six-seater GEM, which averages about 60 miles before its needs more juice.

"The difference would be the Chevy Bolts would be able to go all day long without being charged," said Karen Kress, the partnership's director of transportation and planning.

The Bolts could be in service later this summer, Kress said. Whether a Bolt or GEM turns up when a customer hails a ride on the Downtowner mobile app would come down to chance, she said.

The expansion is needed to meet demand, which in peak periods sees wait times run 30 minutes or longer.

Including insurance, maintenance and driver, each Bolt will cost about $110,000 per year to put on the road. The partnership is seeking sponsorship including advertisers who want their logos on the cars.

The service now costs about $1 million per year.

Launched in October, it covers an area from the north end of Harbour Island to Interstate 275, and from the University of Tampa area to the Channel District. The limitation of the GEM's batteries means that only six vehicles are on the road at one time while the others are recharging.

The Tampa City Council acting as the Community Redevelopment Area is expected to approve spending about $600,000 to run the shuttle for a second year. The money would come from downtown and Channel District community development funds. The Florida Department of Transportation has pledged to pay $150,000 for three years.

Most downtown hotels and office buildings have also chipped in about $5,000 each, Kress said. The partnership will ask for a bigger contributions this year.

The University of Tampa also committed recently to provide financial support. About 22 percent of Downtowner rides are either to or from the university campus.

Tampa City Council member Guido Maniscalco said it makes sense for the city to invest in a popular service.

"It's free to consumers and with everything going on in downtown, it helps to connect us," he said. "I'm glad they're going to be expanding it to Bolts."

Contact Christopher O'Donnell at [email protected] or (813) 226-3446.

   
Comments
She was looking at paperwork to buy a car. Then she had to confirm that she was not a robot.

She was looking at paperwork to buy a car. Then she had to confirm that she was not a robot.

Marci Robin was reviewing the usual paperwork when she was about to buy her Fiat 500X from a West Palm Beach car dealership on Tuesday.Then she had to verify, in person via pen and paper, that she was not a robot, Jalopnik reported.I bought a car tod...
Published: 05/23/18
Pilot-hungry airlines are raiding flight schools - creating a shortage of instructors to train the next generation

Pilot-hungry airlines are raiding flight schools - creating a shortage of instructors to train the next generation

Airlines’ insatiable demand for pilots threatens to sabotage flight schools’ ability to train new ones. Carriers are raising wages and hoarding every available pilot - including the instructors schools rely on to teach incoming students.The very pilo...
Published: 05/23/18
Investigators insist MH370 crash was an accident, not a mass murder-suicide by pilot

Investigators insist MH370 crash was an accident, not a mass murder-suicide by pilot

A despondent Capt. Zaharie Ahmad Shah, troubled over the end of his marriage or some other unbearable sadness, was the only person awake on the doomed plane full of unconscious people, one theory goes. The suicidal pilot disabled communications on Ma...
Published: 05/22/18
Florida has a gem of an idea to move traffic on and off I-75. It's called diverging diamonds

Florida has a gem of an idea to move traffic on and off I-75. It's called diverging diamonds

TAMPA — Driving on the wrong side of the road isn’t just for the British any more under an innovative plan for moving traffic through three local Interstate 75 interchanges. Construction will soon begin on a $37 million, three-year proje...
Published: 05/21/18
More parking for the Straz Center? So far, the proposal is getting little traction

More parking for the Straz Center? So far, the proposal is getting little traction

TAMPA — Parking has been a problem at the David A. Straz Jr. Center for the Performing Arts since downtown began to emerge from the recession nearly a decade ago.The crunch looks likely to continue.A Straz plan to expand parking at its arrival plaza ...
Published: 05/18/18
More St. Petersburg residents using bike-share program on a regular basis

More St. Petersburg residents using bike-share program on a regular basis

ST. PETERSBURG — Cycling downtown on a blue basket bicycle has proven to be a popular pastime, according to the first yearly report provided by the Coast Bike Share. In an update presented to the St. Petersburg City Council, Coast announced that 45,6...
Published: 05/16/18
Co-pilot sucked halfway out of plane after windshield cracks over China

Co-pilot sucked halfway out of plane after windshield cracks over China

Getting sucked halfway out of a plane window is the stuff of movies and nightmares and it happens extremely rarely.But in mid-April, a female passenger died after being partially sucked out of a Southwest Airlines flight when one of the aircraft’s en...
Published: 05/16/18
MH370 experts think they’ve finally solved the mystery of the doomed Malaysia Airlines flight

MH370 experts think they’ve finally solved the mystery of the doomed Malaysia Airlines flight

All but one of the 239 people on the doomed Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 had probably been unconscious — incapacitated by the sudden depressurization of the Boeing 777 — and had no way of knowing that they were on an hours-long, meandering path to th...
Published: 05/15/18
Pasco buries tunnel proposal at U.S. 41 and SR 54

Pasco buries tunnel proposal at U.S. 41 and SR 54

DADE CITY — Transportation planners are burying the idea of tunneling under U.S. 41 to ease traffic congestion at the road’s intersection with State Road 54 in central Pasco.Even with the conceptual cost dropping $300 million, Pasco’s elected county...
Published: 05/11/18
Updated: 05/13/18
Florida Supreme Court: Cameras a legal way to catch red light runners

Florida Supreme Court: Cameras a legal way to catch red light runners

TALLAHASSEE — Traffic cameras are a legal way to catch red light runners, the Florida Supreme Court ruled Thursday in a verdict that likely marks the end of a class-action lawsuit seeking refunds for ticketed motorists.In a unanimous verdict, Supreme...
Updated one month ago