Sunday, January 11, 2009

Tampa's Endowment Experiment

The Tampa Streetcar has an endowment for it's operations that picks up part of the tab. It was created when the line started and has been dwindling ever since. But much of that is because stocks have tanked.

In 2007, the endowment accounted for about 40 percent of the streetcar's $2 million annual operating budget. That still left the endowment at about $3.3 million.

But in the past year, the fund plummeted to $1.4 million, partly due to its contribution to operating expenses, but mostly because the endowment was invested in securities that took a beating on Wall Street.

If this idea was brough forth in the early 90's this line would be operating a surplus from its endowment but given what has happened it's getting crushed by market conditions and perhaps overly aggresive investment. As property values have increased along the line, I'm surprised a more proactive approach at capturing them and putting them into the operations as well. At some point the city will have to take over, but no one should call this line a failure when they do. With 1,200 riders a day on limited operating times and over $1 billion in development along the line, it has shown what can be done with a lot of vacant line and a streetcar.

1 comment:

Peter said...

I feel comforted that Minneapolis/St Paul isn't the only place where newspaper articles breed rabid anti-transit comments.