TAMPA, Fla. — There's a new effort underway to keep The Downtowner, a free and on-demand car service, running in Downtown Tampa and Channelside.
The Downtowner is a ride service that is on-demand and point-to-point. Rides are requested through an app, or hailed on the street. The vehicles are also 100% electric and hailed through the app.
The Hillsborough Area Regional Transit Authority (HART), took over funding The Downtowner, but that contract ends March 31, 2020.
Now that the All For Transportation Tax money voters approved back in 2018 remains tied up in a legal battle, HART may not be able to keep paying for the free service to continue.
However, Tampa's Downtown Partnership is stepping up.
Lynda Remund, the President and CEO for the Tampa Downtown Partnership, approached HART leaders at a board meeting on February 4. She told them the Downtown Partnership is now looking for both public and private partnerships to keep the Downtowner going through at least October of 2020.
"We don't want HART to be able to go into the reserves," Remund told HART board members. "We don't feel like that's an option that we would want to ask you to do."
Ridership numbers have grown substantially over the past two years for The Downtowner in Downtown Tampa, specifically with business professionals looking to get quickly from meeting to meeting, according to the Tampa Downtown Partnership.
The Downtowner vehicles operate seven days a week within Downtown Tampa’s business district, Channel District, River Arts District, the University of Tampa area and the non-gated north end of Harbour Island.
The Tampa Downtown Partnership is now reaching out to Tampa City Council members for some financial support. They are also working to apply for FDOT grants that would help pay for it through October.
This transportation initiative runs on Private-Public Partnership support, including Tampa Downtown Partnership, City of Tampa and Hillsborough Area Regional Transit Authority (HART).