German air taxi company eyes Tampa Bay area for US launch

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TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) — Board members of the Tampa Bay Area Regional Transit Authority met virtually on Friday to discuss the future of travel: Air taxis.  

The idea was pitched to TBARTA by the German-based company Lilium

“We have real transit needs now,” TBARTA Director of Communications Chris Jadick said. “TBARTA is looking toward future transit innovation technology such as air taxis that are really going to define how we travel in the decades to come.” 

Lilium explained during their presentation that their air taxis would be able to transport four passengers and one pilot. They would travel at a speed of 185 MPH.  

The air taxis would be able to transport passengers from Tampa to St. Pete in 8 minutes. The trip would cost around $90.  

“That’s an opening price. According to their projections, that price should drop over time because of the frequency of flights,” said Jadick. “One of the things they say is, look, if we can make that flight at eight minutes and it takes a taxi 35 to 45 minutes to do the same thing, we’re going to be more efficient because we can do more flights in less time. That’s going to help keep the cost down. And then as technology develops, if we get to autonomous vehicles that do not require a pilot, that too is going to bring the cost down.” 

Traveling to other major cities like Miami, Orlando and Gainesville would take less than an hour via air taxi. 

“The more we don’t have to rely on getting in our car and driving someplace with just a single driver in that vehicle, the better off we’re all going to be. So, we want to lessen the amount of needs on our roadways.” 

The TBARTA board made a motion by Friday afternoon to move forward in learning more from Lilium.  

“We’d like to get more information. We’d like to report at our next board meeting on what it would take to do a pilot study,” said Jadick. “Lillian was asked how much time do they need to be able to launch to put a pilot project or to get some operation and they said by 2025.” 

The Tampa Bay Area Regional Transit Authority is also exploring other modes of transportation including a Hyperloop and aerial gondolas.  

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