TECO Line Streetcar posts record ridership

Tampa streetcar
But will it last?

The TECO Line Streetcar has set record ridership in the past year with 1,315,103 passenger trips from Oct. 1, 2022 through Sept. 30, 2023, the highest annual ridership in the service’s more than 20 years of operation.

The annual record comes after the Streetcar broke several monthly ridership records over the past year, including the best month in its history in March with 127,863 passenger trips.

The Hillsborough Area Regional Transit Authority (HART), which operates the Streetcar, attributes the recent popularity to an increase in service frequency to every 12 minutes during peak hours, as well as population growth along the Streetcar route and near record tourism in downtown Tampa.

“We are elated to be celebrating another year of record ridership on the Streetcar,” HART interim CEO Scott Drainville said. “The success of the Streetcar is a result of our community coming together to invest in public transportation.”

HART operates the Streetcar line in partnership with the city of Tampa and Tampa Historic Streetcar, Inc. This month marks 21 years since the iconic yellow streetcars returned to the downtown area.

The TECO Line Streetcar runs through downtown Tampa with stops serving the Tampa Convention Center, Amalie Arena, the Florida Aquarium and Ybor City.

The Streetcar, which operates along a 2.7-mile footprint, likely also has benefitted from the free fares that have been in place for about five years.

But the record ridership had been in trouble as the fare-free operation was threatened. Operators had considered resuming fees for the service if an application to the state for a continuation of a grant from the Florida Department of Transportation that has allowed the service to remain free was not approved. But the $700,000 grant did come through and it will cover fare-free service for at least another year. HART and its partners are working to identify other funding services to maintain the free fares long-term.

Other options to balance costs include extending wait times for the Streetcar from the current 12-15 minutes to 20 minutes.

HART continues to face dire financial constraints and the Legislature this year approved a bill calling for the Florida Department of Transportation to study HART’s organizational structure. That study, which would include analyzing possible dissolution, is due to the Governor and Legislature Jan. 1.

Peter Schorsch

Peter Schorsch is the President of Extensive Enterprises Media and is the publisher of FloridaPolitics.com, INFLUENCE Magazine, and Sunburn, the morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics. Previous to his publishing efforts, Peter was a political consultant to dozens of congressional and state campaigns, as well as several of the state’s largest governmental affairs and public relations firms. Peter lives in St. Petersburg with his wife, Michelle, and their daughter, Ella. Follow Peter on Twitter @PeterSchorschFL.


  • rbruce

    October 17, 2023 at 8:51 am

    What is total revenue and total expenses (operating + capital) for this record ridership? Why were the financials left out of the article?

    • John Q Public

      October 17, 2023 at 9:26 am

      Good question rbruce,
      Hillsborough County, Florida is a vastly predominate liberal enclave in predominatly conservative Florida. Odds are the streetcar of your inquiry is a huge money sponge in the total HART budget which will be revealed when and if the County truthfully answers your question.
      Furthermore odds are the entire HART operation has never been a money maker, has abundant revenue and Federal/State Transportation Grant skimming and diversion from the intended purpose of the grants and revenue.
      Submitting a “public records request” might be fun but dont fool yourself into thinking the individual HART system and the total Hillsbourogh County Govornment is not 100% prepared for what is likley another of many such public records requests and as the submitter you shall have the high honor of being famous as the person who busted up the HART money pit multi year operation.
      All of Floridas liberal Counties are operated in this method and honorable John Q Publics such as yourself have no ability whatsoever to bust them up.
      Florida could save and recover a lot of money if these liberal Counties are put under a State mandated audit. But the State, politically has not gotten to that point yet as such a thing would require a legislative mandate. You cant just have a single or group of elected official’s order such an audit.
      Sorry but your mind is very astute to the point that you already knew the answer to your question even prior to my fat fingers entering the text.

  • JD

    October 17, 2023 at 9:04 am

    They need more of this and in more areas – the traffic congestion in Tampa / St. Pete is abysmal. But the state will squawk about finances on something that makes sense.

Comments are closed.


Florida Politics is a statewide, new media platform covering campaigns, elections, government, policy, and lobbying in Florida. This platform and all of its content are owned by Extensive Enterprises Media.

Publisher: Peter Schorsch @PeterSchorschFL

Contributors & reporters: Phil Ammann, Drew Dixon, Roseanne Dunkelberger, A.G. Gancarski, Anne Geggis, Ryan Nicol, Jacob Ogles, Cole Pepper, Gray Rohrer, Jesse Scheckner, Christine Sexton, Drew Wilson, and Mike Wright.

Email: [email protected]
Twitter: @PeterSchorschFL
Phone: (727) 642-3162
Address: 204 37th Avenue North #182
St. Petersburg, Florida 33704