How do we celebrate 10 years of the TECO Line Streetcar System? 10-cent rides all day on Saturday, Oct. 20 is just the beginning! Streetcar service will begin at 10 a.m., of course.
Stay tuned for more details about this special celebration, including participation by Cirque du Soleil, live entertainment at Centro Ybor, discounts by vendors along the streetcar line and streetcar history tours. Visit www.tecolinstreetcar.org
This is a family-friendly event, and almost free — just dig out your spare dimes!
By the numbers
4,067,560 rides since it opened Oct. 19, 2002.
$55 million in streetcar system assets and infrastructure.
$1.2 billion in private investment along the streetcar line since 2005.
The TECO Line Streetcar System’s 10th Anniversary is presented by Centro Ybor, and sponsored by the following companies and organizations:
History of Tampa’s Streetcars
In their heyday during the first half of the 20th century, Tampa’s streetcars operated on 53 miles of tracks, whisking passengers to and from Ybor City, Ballast Point, Hyde Park, Sulphur Springs, Seminole Heights and points beyond.
Tampa’s first electric streetcar lines were built in 1892 and quickly became an essential part of everyday life. Operated by uniformed conductors, the Birney cars were a welcome sight, and the familiar clang of the streetcar bell was music to the ears. To ride the streetcar was to feel the pulse of the community. The system reached its peak of popularity in 1926 with almost 24 million passengers. Tampa’s streetcar system rolled to a stop Aug. 4, 1946, after World War II.
The bright yellow cars returned to Tampa’s landscape Oct. 19, 2002, and today Ybor City, Channelside and Downtown Tampa are connected by a 2.7-mile streetcar line and 11 stations.
The system operates as a singletrack, bi-directional system with passing tracks to permit the meeting and passing of the streetcars traveling in opposite directions. Power for the system is provided by two substations. The overhead catenary system carries 600 volts of direct current. A transformer on the streetcars converts the direct current into alternate current.
Streetcar stations provide seating, trash receptacles, lighting, and information kiosks. Two different architectural styles were used for the stations. In Ybor City, stations were designed to look like historic train sheds. The bases are clad with the historic brick pavers that were taken out of Ybor City’s streets for the installation of the rail. Wrought iron railings were used and the wood roofs are covered with slate shingles. Pavers around the stations are done in a historic octagonal pattern that is used throughout Ybor City.
Channel District stations reflect the sleek industrial architecture that is dominant in the area. Covered with stainless steel rounded roofs, the soffits are sky-blue. Aquamarine terrazzo provides sure footing, and railings are also stainless steel.
Whiting Station opened in 2010 and features Siteliner, a unique public art display that lights up the area with its abstract color design.
Public art at some stations exemplifies historical and contemporary designs. For example, in Ybor City bronze chair sculptures duplicate the lectern chairs used by the readers in cigar factories at the turn of the century. Another bronze sculpture of Mayor Dick Greco (Tampa’s mayor in 1967, 1995 and 1999) was installed at Greco Plaza. Siteliner lights up the night at Whiting Station, located on the south end of the line.
The system’s nine streetcars are replicas of the historic Birney cars that ran in Tampa until 1946. Streetcars are ADA accessible, with wheelchair seating on both ends of the car. Driving the streetcars are the conductors, who play a key role role in a customer’s experience of the streetcar. They often appear in photographs taken by visitors, and receive praise for their helpfulness.