Make us your home page
Instagram

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Economy hurting HART streetcar ridership

TAMPA — Supporters of downtown's streetcar thought spending $5.3 million to extend the line one-third of a mile to Whiting Street would attract riders by tying downtown to the Channel district and Ybor City.

So far, though, the results are mixed. While revenues are up, ridership is up and down.

March and June saw increases compared with the same months last year. But ridership declined in January, February, April and May.

Overall, ridership dropped 7 percent the first half of this year compared with the same period a year ago, says Hillsborough Area Regional Transit, which owns the 2.4-mile system.

HART and the board that manages the streetcar's day-to-day operations have no definite answers for the decline. They have one possible explanation, though: the weak economy.

The streetcar relies heavily on out-of-state tourists and local visitors, including weekend partiers, catching rides to the St. Pete Times Forum, Channelside, Ybor City and the convention center.

"Being in a down economy, there's only so much we can do," said David Mechanik, president of the board for Tampa Historic Streetcar Inc., which runs the streetcar in an agreement with HART and Tampa.

On the revenue side, the news was better. Revenues for January-May rose 10 percent to $304,032.

Mejia said new ticket vending machines and recent fare adjustments likely boosted sales. In November new family passes started going on sale. A family of five (one adult, four children or two adults, three children) can purchase a pass for $12.50 and ride all day.

Also contributing: advertising sales, Community Redevelopment Area taxes levied in districts where the streetcar operates and a $1 million endowment.

Mechanik said he hopes that ridership will rebound. But it will have to happen with fewer cars on the tracks, he said. Next year, the streetcar's endowment will run out. About $190,000 remains.

To cope, the streetcar board last month voted to cut operating expenses by 30 percent for next fiscal year. Cars will run every 20 minutes instead of 15 on Fridays and Saturdays, and staff will be cut to 17 positions from 24. The fiscal year starts October 1.

"It's like a vicious cycle, but there's only so much you can do," Mechanik said.

Economy hurting HART streetcar ridership 08/01/11 [Last modified: Tuesday, August 2, 2011 11:38am]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Rose McGowan will replace Val Kilmer at Tampa Bay Comic Con

    Blogs

    Well, that was fast. Less than a day after announcing that one-time Batman Val Kilmer canceled his appearance at Tampa Bay Comic Con, organizers say actress Rose McGowan will take his place at the geek-tastic event running Friday to Sunday at the Tampa Convention center.

    Rose McGowan and her then-husband Davey Detail in 2013.
  2. Bradenton museum where Snooty the manatee drowned reopens to public (w/video)

    Wildlife

    BRADENTON — A Florida museum where a 69-year-old manatee got trapped in a maintenance tube and drowned has reopened to the public.

    Four-year-old Katie Blair pays her respects to Snooty at a makeshift memorial in front of the museum on Sunday. Katie and her family has visited the aquarium to see Snooty four times this year. 
Snooty was the world's oldest living manatee in captivity and celebrated his 69th birthday Friday at the aquarium. Aquarium officials described Snooty's death as a tragic accident and is being investigated. [LUIS SANTANA   |   Times]

  3. HomeTeam 100: Players 21-30

    Footballpreps

    TAMPA - Jesuit linebacker Anthony Nelson will help lead the Tigers into the 2017 season. Taken 5-17-17 by Scott Purks
  4. For starters: Cobb on the hill against Orioles

    Blogs

     

    Alex Cobb takes the mound, hoping to duplicate his performance from Friday when he was three outs away from pitching a complete game.
  5. Ros-Lethinen: Trump wrong on transgender ban

    Blogs

    WASHINGTON - Florida Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen criticized President Trump's announced ban on transgender people serving in the military.

    Miami Republican Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen.