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$67-million grant will go to transforming Tampa streetcars into mass transit system

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Posted at 6:49 PM, Dec 08, 2020
and last updated 2020-12-08 18:49:02-05

TAMPA, Fla.  — Streetcars could be the next major mass transit system for the city of Tampa. This comes after an announcement that Tampa's streetcar system just received the most funding of any transit system in Tampa Bay history.

Tampa’s streetcar system started in the late 1800s.

"Tampa had a wonderful streetcar system that was taken away from us after WWII in 1945," said Michael English, chairman of Tampa's historic streetcar board.

Since the 1980s, Tampa leaders have fought to bring the streetcars back, and in the early 2000s, they did. But since then the city has grown and needs something more.

"One of the common themes we heard is we need to improve our transit system," said David Gwynn, FDOT transportation secretary.

Now FDOT and HART are joining together to make it a faster and more accessible transit system.

They’re doing it with a $67.3-million grant from the state that will go into the extension and modernization of the streetcars.

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"This really is a great step in transforming Tampa's tomorrow," said Jane Castor, Tampa's mayor.

Mayor Castor says by the year 2040, 100,000 people will be within walking distance of the streetcar system, which is why Tampa needs updated mass transit.

The new streetcar system will extend into Tampa Heights. They're still waiting on the approval of some federal grants but the expected finish is the end of 2026.