The free ride continues for the TECO Line Streetcar between Ybor City and downtown Tampa.
The Florida Department of Transportation has awarded a $700,000 commuter assistance grant to the trolley’s operator, Hillsborough Transit Authority, to keep the service fare free for the 2024 fiscal year.
The state first awarded the transit authority a $2.7 million grant in 2018 to allow the streetcar to eliminate fares and to expand service by increasing the frequency of trips and extending hours of service. Since 2021, the department also contributed $700,000 annually to keep the fares free.
The TECO Line Streetcar also is funded by the city of Tampa, the Downtown Community Redevelopment Areas and the Tampa Downtown Partnership.
In August, the transit agency interim CEO Scott Drainville said the agency faced a “dire financial situation” and was running out of money to provide the current service free to passengers.
Had the state grant not come through, the streetcar, owned by the city of Tampa, may have had to resume charging fares or cutting service. Before the state subsidy began, fares on the nearly 3-mile route were $2.50 one way or $5 for a day pass.
The TECO Line Streetcar System has carried 1,249,511 passenger trips in the first 11 months of the current fiscal year, which ends Saturday.
The line runs between 20th Street and 8th Avenue in Ybor City and Franklin and Whiting streets linking downtown Tampa, the Channel District and the historic Latin Quarter of Ybor City.