Tampa streetcar manager ousted

08/07/08 Mitch E. Perry
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Tampa City Councilwoman Mary Mulhern had harsh words today regarding the firing of Tampa’s Streetcar Manager by Hillsborough County’s transit system agency, HART.

Tim Borchers was hired to manage the streetcar line in 2002. His firing was said to be intended to save money and improve service.

Councilwoman Linda Saul-Sena also expressed reservations about the firing.

The streetcar has been derided by some as a boondoggle, but HART Executive Director David Armijo says currently 36,000 to 38,000 riders use the streetcar monthly. But each year it has run at a deficit. But Armijo says he hopes that won’t be the case next year.

That will include fewer rides, coming every 20 minutes instead of the current 15-minute waits during peak hours.

Councilman John Dingfelder defended Armijo and was optimistic about the future of transit in Hillsborough County, beginning with the fact that the streetcar is being extended into downtown Tampa.

Councilwoman Mulhern said that with so much buzz in town about the possibilities of light rail, it should be acknowledged that streetcars are light rail.

HART Executive Director David Armijo said that the battle for federal funding for light rail is extremely competitive. Armijo said he would also work harder to improve communication lines with the Council in the future.

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