Tampa Mayor: City may have to take over failing streetcars - WFLA News Channel 8

Tampa Mayor: City may have to take over failing streetcars

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TAMPA, FL (WFLA) -

As the streetcar rumbles by in Ybor City, a business manager says, "I never see anyone on it."

For the past few years ridership on Tampa's streetcar has been on a steady decline.

The streetcar board has a plan to boost the number of riders.

They are experimenting with a pilot program to offer free rides to people attending conventions in the city.

7/24/2013 Related Story: Tampa's streetcar running into financial trouble

The problem is, no one is paying for them to ride.

Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn knows it's a problem.

Buckhorn says, "Clearly in its current configuration it's not doing well financially."

An endowment fund set up to help the streetcar in times of economic hardship was originally projected to last until at least the year 2025.

Now it appears the fund will run out of money at the end of 2014.

Buckhorn says some of the problems have been brought on by decisions made by the Streetcar board, "They've cut the number of the routes and the times of the routes and they raised the fairs. That's going to put that streetcar in a death spiral."

Buckhorn says it now appears Tampa taxpayers will have to pay for the operation of the line, "I think eventually either Hartline or Tampa is going take that over. We're going to recognize that it's not ever going to make money, but we're going to look at it as an amenity, increase the frequency of the routes and decrease the fairs and make it open to everyone to run it."

Buckhorn says the city has already invested 60-million dollars to build the streetcar line and so he believes the city has to find a way to keep it running.

YOUR VOICE: Do you think taxpayer money should be used to keep the streetcars running? Post your thoughts in the comment section below.

Follow Jeff Patterson on Twitter at @WFLAJeff

 

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