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Tampa's Streetcar Line Through the Eyes of a Lens

Take this virtual ride on Tampa's Streetcar Line. The tour takes you on a trolley ride from Ybor City to Channelside to Downtown Tampa. Enjoy the scenic sights that will make you want to visit and see it personally.

Published November 15, 2012 in Transit      10 Comments    Open printer friendly version of this article Print Article

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The TECO Line Streetcar System is a streetcar line in Tampa, Florida, run by the Hillsborough Area Regional Transportation Authority owned by the City of Tampa and managed by Tampa Historic Streetcar, Inc.. It connects Downtown and Channelside to the historic Ybor City district.

The line opened on October 19, 2002. The line is 2.7 mi (4.35 km) long with 11 stations. The track is single with several passing sidings. The track mostly follows a reserved right-of-way at a cost of 13.7 million per mile including eight streetcars. The cars themselves costing $600,000 each. Annual insurance cost is $400,000 liability. (2012) most of that cost is the requirement by CSX Transportation for insurance to cross over their freight tracks at Fifth Avenue and also 13th street.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/TECO_Line_Streetcar_System

Produced by Zac Atwood, City of Tampa Television, www.tampagov.net/CTTV.







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10 Comments

Adam W

November 15, 2012, 04:18:27 AM
Wow...that streetcar moves really fast!

Noone

November 15, 2012, 05:23:22 AM
I loved it. I was B Boppin in the kitchen watching and listening. I'm warming to the street car. It was MJ that when we were in Boston last year spent the day riding and using the rail. CSX is, should,could,and can be a huge partner here locally and the volunteer effort to Make it Happen.

Ock, Have you reached out to Mike Ward and CSX yet?
Imagine the Pub Crawl Rail team going down Bay St. then take it to Mark's. I know this was talked about on another thread. I haven't been to Tampa in years. I'm going to watch the video again. very cool.

acme54321

November 15, 2012, 06:48:44 AM
So Tampa's street car crosses CSX trackage?  Why couldn't a streetcar cross FEC trackage here?  That would get a streetcar from DT to San Marco and beyond.  I am aware that there is more traffic on the FEC here than that line through DT Tampa.

thelakelander

November 15, 2012, 07:13:10 AM
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I am aware that there is more traffic on the FEC here than that line through DT Tampa.

Significantly more traffic.  In any event, getting that traffic across CSX's seldom used line in Tampa nearly took the entire plan down.  It's also blamed for a reduction in operational hours and service frequency which has led to a decline in ridership.  If you want a system that actually has a chance of working, you don't want a streetcar crossing FEC tracks.  Luckily, we have the Skyway.

CSX crossing insurance costs Tampa streetcar $400,000

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The fight to bring a streetcar downtown involved big battles. Organizers had to choose a route, persuade the federal government to give millions for the project and overcome resistance from some residents and city officials who were worried about the cost to taxpayers.

Ten years after the streetcar between downtown and Ybor City became reality, though, it's one small detail, overlooked until the last moment a decade ago, that's posing the biggest threat to the system:

Insurance.

The TECO Line Streetcar System is paying a whopping $400,000 a year — more than a quarter of its annual budget — for liability insurance at a single CSX railroad crossing. The $100 million policy enables the streetcars to cross a track that eight freight and passenger trains use daily.

The expensive premium has so far cost more than $4 million and nearly drained the streetcar's $5 million endowment years earlier than planned. The strain the payment places on the budget was a major factor in last year's decision to run the streetcar less frequently, a move that contributed to a sharp decline in ridership.

full article: http://www2.tbo.com/news/business/2012/oct/31/for-tampa-streetcar-crossing-one-csx-railroad-trac-ar-549496/

thelakelander

November 15, 2012, 07:21:05 AM
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And then there's this option, which CSX has suggested since the beginning:

Get rid of the streetcar track and switch to tires, in essence becoming a bus that looks like a streetcar.

"At the onset, we suggested a rubber-tired option that could traverse established road crossings," Sease said. "HART was firm that it needed to be the trolley.''

Adam W

November 15, 2012, 07:50:29 AM
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And then there's this option, which CSX has suggested since the beginning:

Get rid of the streetcar track and switch to tires, in essence becoming a bus that looks like a streetcar.

"At the onset, we suggested a rubber-tired option that could traverse established road crossings," Sease said. "HART was firm that it needed to be the trolley.''

Why can't they just put boom barriers or traffic lights or something at the crossings? Is this not possible from an engineering perspective? It would seem that there should be some sort of mechanical or technological solution that would enable the driver of a trolley to know whether or not the railroad tracks are clear for an acceptable distance in either direction before crossing. It can't be that hard. Or can it?

thelakelander

November 15, 2012, 07:57:10 AM
There is a reason the majority of heritage and modern streetcar systems don't cross freight tracks at grade.  It's simply a losing proposition. As long as you're crossing at grade, you're going to need liability insurance...if a freight company even agrees to it.  You're simply better off going grade separated to avoid conflict.  In Jax's case, not only would you have to cross FEC tracks, you'd also need to get across the river.  This is a situation where we already have the skyway and finding a way to better utilize and integrate it to provide access to San Marco is very logical.

Ocklawaha

November 15, 2012, 12:28:54 PM
Why can't they just put boom barriers or traffic lights or something at the crossings? Is this not possible from an engineering perspective? It would seem that there should be some sort of mechanical or technological solution that would enable the driver of a trolley to know whether or not the railroad tracks are clear for an acceptable distance in either direction before crossing. It can't be that hard. Or can it?

Actually the light signals are in place and working. It works fine for traffic control but does little for liability. A twist to these thoughts is how much insurance does CSX demand from a city bus crossing? I'd be willing to bet that it could be taken to court.

Adam W

November 15, 2012, 01:09:55 PM
Why can't they just put boom barriers or traffic lights or something at the crossings? Is this not possible from an engineering perspective? It would seem that there should be some sort of mechanical or technological solution that would enable the driver of a trolley to know whether or not the railroad tracks are clear for an acceptable distance in either direction before crossing. It can't be that hard. Or can it?

Actually the light signals are in place and working. It works fine for traffic control but does little for liability. A twist to these thoughts is how much insurance does CSX demand from a city bus crossing? I'd be willing to bet that it could be taken to court.

That's why I was asking, Ock. When I was a kid, our school bus driver would stop every morning at the train tracks and open the doors and look and listen for the train before driving over the tracks. If a school bus driver can be trusted to do it, I'm sure a streetcar driver can do it. Seriously.

jaxbeachguy

November 23, 2012, 09:50:15 AM
Make mass transit FREE to the public, paid for by taxes on vehicles via tolls, congestion taxes, use tax, etc.

At some future point, fares will need to be collected to keep the system operational, but do so only after the public has given up alternate means of transport.  :)

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