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Rail News: Passenger Rail

Tampa to return to streetcar past


From 1892 until 1946, streetcars were an everyday sight in downtown Tampa, Fla. After Oct. 21, they will be again.

On Oct. 19 and 20, Tampa Historic Streetcar Inc. plans to launch its 2.3-mile TECO Line Streetcar System connecting downtown Tampa, Channelside and Ybor City. Hillsborough Area Regional Transit Authority plans to operate the service.

Phase I of the line’s construction cost $32 million, which was funded by Tampa, U.S. Department of Transportation and Florida DOT. Ancillary, complementary and intermodal transportation facilities also were paid for with state and federal funds.

Operating costs, however, will be handled quite differently. The system’s three city centers have agreed to a voluntary assessment to help cover the estimated $1.3 million annual costs, as will fare box and advertising revenue, and a naming rights endowment fund.

For $250,000, a corporate sponsor’s name or logo will be displayed on the front and back of their streetcar’s interior, exterior, the map at each station stop, the system’s route map and all streetcar marketing materials. So far, SunTrust Bank and Time Warner have signed on to sponsor two of the line’s eight historic replica cars.

If that price tag’s too rich, corporations can sponsor a station for $100,000. The name or logo then would appear at the station stop, the stop’s map, the system’s route map and marketing materials. Corporations have sponsored four of 11 stations.

All naming rights are effective for 10 years with an option for three 10-year renewals. TECO Energy sponsors the streetcar system, which is fitting because predecessor company Tampa Electric owned and operated Tampa’s original fleet.

Contact Progressive Railroading editorial staff.

More News from 10/18/2002