The Whiting Is On The Wall
Downtown Tampa Has Urban Rail Future
The plan to run urban rail tracks into downtown is moving at freight train speeds. The Teco Line streetcar system, emerging triumphantly vis a vis the most suddenly certain Whiting Street extension is piercing its tourist shell capacity and reforming its purpose as a viable mass transit tool. There can be no doubt now that Tampa faces an urban rail future that figures directly into the fabric of the city core. The seed has begun to sprout at long last.
Thanks to a multitude of nurturing breakthroughs, not to mention a bit of time at the crank handle calculator, yesterday's joint HART/THS meeting produced a strategy to fund the streetcar for 20 years, and, to fund the Whiting Street extension to completion in just 2.
A few more details from the meeting itself:
- The Whiting Street extension will be one of the single track options (this or that)
- -- Even so, it will be done such that it can be double tracked later (maybe then)
- Running service will remain at 7 days a week, but with running configuration changes
- Trips will be faster due to a switch to a two-car configuration Monday through Thursday
- A statue of former Mayor Dick Greco will be erected at the Southern Transportation Plaza
- A proposed Tampa Streetcar Museum is the sole unfortunate casualty in all this
The St. Pete Times offers up a more readable recount of the meeting:
The Frugal and Faster Streetcar Trip
The part about running two cars instead of four is alarmingly recessive at first glance. However, believe it or not, it leads to less congestion between the streetcars themselves as they maneuver back and forth on the line. I'm eager to point this out because based on my ride last week, I can report that the impact on ride quality is impressive. Rides are much more fluid and traverse much more quickly. It was pointed out, and I wholeheartedly concur if my experience is any indication, that overall trip times will flat out improve even with the wider service intervals. By contrast running more cars is opt when capacity is more important, just like it is on weekends and during special events.
This tweak is a huge money saver, but it's also a subtle boost to the line as a commuter tool, early as it may be to be propping the notion. You'll have to take the "Frugal and Faster" ride, as I call it, to see for yourself. I guess my only concern is for the conductors and other job holders that may have depended on the slightly denser operation, if at all.
HART's New Facility, the Raymond C. Miller Building
Speaking of the meeting, it is interesting to note that it all took place on the third floor of the rail operations center, officially the new home of HART and properly referenced as the Raymond C. Miller Building.
Bright fresh sign greets visitors to HART's new Raymond C. Miller Building
Outside view of Raymond C. Miller Building, shared with rail operation center
Before the meeting began I was exchanging nice words with HART Government Affairs Officer, Ed Crawford. He mentioned the savings of HART's move could amount to $200,000 per year (in amortization if I'm phrasing this right). Don't hesitate to correct me folks.
I'm not into numbers, but my take was that the place was beautiful and practical and should serve as a strong platform for the agency as it ushers Hillsborough County into the era of modern, rapid transit.