Tampa Historic Streetcar, Inc. (THS) will offer a dynamic new component to Tampa’s transportation system by providing attractive, reliable, comfortable, convenient, and safe streetcar service to local residents and visitors alike.
In their heyday, Tampa’s streetcars whisked passengers to and from Ybor City, Ballast Point, Hyde Park, Sulphur Springs and points beyond. Operated by uniformed conductors, the Birney cars were a welcome sight, and the familiar clang of the streetcar bell was music to the passenger’s ears. To ride the streetcar was to feel the pulse of the community.
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 as it was largely replaced by automobiles and buses.
Beginning in 1984, the Tampa & Ybor City Street Railway Society (TYCSRS) acted as a catalyst, promoting the return of streetcar service to Tampa. In October 2002, electric streetcars started operating again in Tampa, supporting expansive growth in downtown, the Channel District, and Ybor City; improving transportation capacity and shared parking capabilities (specifically related to the traffic peaks caused by large events); supporting Tampa’s cruise and tourism industry; and to the degree possible, transporting workers to and from their jobs.
In 2000, THS contracted with HART for the provision of streetcar operations and maintenance services. This Operator’s Agreement sets forth the obligations of both THS and HART with regard to operations, with a balanced budget approved annually.
As a result of the contract with THS, HART established a Streetcar Division within the organization. This division encompasses the HART employees that are dedicated to the Streetcar System including operations, maintenance, and safety functions. HART departments responsible for human resources, purchasing and other administrative functions are available to serve the Streetcar operations on a work-order basis, as needed. The organization and staffing of the Streetcar Division is fully described in the Operations and Maintenance Plan.
The City of Tampa continues to be involved in the operations of the streetcar by donating legislation advocacy and accounting expertise for the management of the THS finances as well as right-of-way management, including the CSX crossing issues; police response to traffic accidents; signage; and traffic management. Likewise, HART pursues and secures state and federal grants for planning, engineering, construction, and ongoing capital expenses. HART therefore includes the streetcar system in planning public transit for the area, meeting state and federal reporting requirements, coordinating with the Hillsborough County Metropolitan Planning Organization (MPO) and maintaining the system’s eligibility for grants. In addition to its responsibilities as the contracted operations and maintenance management entity, HART continues to support THS through organizational administrative assistance such as operational bus back-up in emergencies; complementary paratransit services; plan updates; safety audits; and coordinated public information dissemination through existing HART outlets.
The initial phase of the TECO Line Streetcar System, Phase I, was designed to function as a single-track bi-directional line with six passing tracks. This configuration provides the flexibility needed to enable the simultaneous operation of the 10 replica double-truck streetcars and the single-truck Birney
Phase II of the system, which represents the system as it exists today, was initiated in late 2003, and completed in December 2010 adding the 11th station to the system and an additional .3 miles of track (extended line is a single track from Dick Greco Plaza to Franklin and Whiting Streets, with a passing track north of Brorein Street) increasing the system to 2.7-miles, linking downtown Tampa with the Channelside and Ybor City entertainment districts, and providing passengers with a connection to the core of downtown Tampa.
Streetcar extension study - InVision: Tampa Streetcar
The City of Tampa is exploring a future for the streetcar as a true transportation option for residents, visitors, and employees in the downtown core. The City is conducting a public transportation feasibility study for the extension and modernization of the current system. The goal of this planning process, which is called InVision: Tampa Streetcar, is to take the first step towards creating a viable transportation choice for people who live, work or visit downtown.
Click here to learn more about the study and for the latest updates.
Click here to learn more about our streetcars.