TAMPA, Fla. — The Florida Department of Transportation announced Tuesday Tampa's Historic Streetcar will be free for all riders for the next three years.
According to FDOT, a Transit Service Development grant of $2,670,000 to Hillsborough Area Regional Transit (HART) will allow riders to use the 2.7-mile route through downtown Tampa for free starting as soon as August of 2018, but possibly a little later in the year, says a HART spokesperson.
"The Tampa Bay area is consistently one of the fastest growing areas of our state, adding more than 33,000 new private-sector jobs in the last year. By providing this grant, we are giving Tampa residents another option as they travel around downtown," Florida Governor Rick Scott said.
Aside from the free service, the frequency of the streetcar will increase from every 20 minutes to every 15 minutes and provide extended service hours. Additional benefits include quicker boarding due to the elimination of the need to purchase fare cards/passes and eliminating the cost of maintaining fare boxes and ticket machines.
FDOT hopes the free service will help boost ridership and increase the efficiency of the system, providing greater opportunity for the system to grow with the growing needs of Tampa's downtown community.
"The State of Florida and Department of Transportation remain committed to the overall investment in transit. Serving one of the fastest growing cities in the state, expanded service for the TECO streetcar will help to alleviate traffic congestion in downtown area," Florida Department of Transportation Secretary Mike Dew said.
The Streetcar Extension Study from Downtown Tampa to Tampa Heights, also funded by the FDOT, is currently in project development to pursue federal funding.