Downtowner attracts national attention to the Tampa urban scene

Downtown Tampa’s free on-demand commuter service, the Downtowner, is attracting national attention as it hits the two-year mark.

The Tampa Downtown Partnership received the International Downtown Association’s 2018 Downtown Achievement Award of Excellence for the Downtowner ride program. The award was bestowed October 25 during IDA’s 64th Annual Conference and Tradeshow in San Antonio, Texas.

The Downtowner was one of 10 qualified entries in the Leadership and Management category.

The first-mile, last-mile service, the first of its kind for downtown Tampa, has been accepting an average of more than 500 riders a day, typically bus riders and downtown workers eating out or engaging in after-work activities.

“It’s a great commuter option,” says Lynda Remund, Acting President and CEO of the Tampa Downtown Partnership, a membership-based not-for-profit working together to enhance the area.

The app-based Downtowner supplements other commuter options like the trolley, ride-sharing, biking, walking and the bus in Tampa’s urban core. The service is a collaborative effort that involves both the public and private sector, with the Downtown Partnership providing leadership through Karen Kress, its Director of Transportation and Planning.

The all-electric fleet includes four Model X Teslas under lease until next March, which are on loan from the Hillsborough Area Regional Transit Authority, plus Chevy Bolts and a 6-passenger Ford Transit Van that meets American with Disabilities Act regulations.

“We’re just trying to decrease the carbon footprint and support cleaner air options,” Remund says. “We thought that was important.”

The Downtowner, co-founded by Travis Gleason, will be making improvements during its third year. Notably, riders who are requesting service may be directed toward a nearby meeting point to streamline transport.

HART also is expected to take over management next summer. “We really are an incubator to get things started,” Remund explains.

Key partners in the project include The City of Tampa’s Downtown and Channel District community redevelopment areas, along with 100 N. Tampa, 501 E Kennedy, Bank of America Plaza, Barrymore Hotel, Embassy Suites, Hilton Downtown Tampa, Rivergate Tower, SunTrust Financial Center, Tampa Marriott Waterside, Two Harbour Place, and the University of Tampa.

About 40 stakeholders and members of the media attended an invitation-only press conference and reception October 29 for The Downtowner’s second anniversary.

Get the rider app here.

Read more articles by Cheryl Rogers.

Cheryl Rogers is a freelance writer and editor who enjoys writing about careers. An ebook author, she also writes Bible Camp Mystery series that shares her faith. She is publisher of New Christian Books Online Magazine and founder of the Mentor Me Career Network, a free online community, offering career consulting, coaching and career information. Now a wife and mother, Cheryl discovered her love of writing as a child when she became enthralled with Nancy Drew mysteries. She earned her bachelor's degree in Journalism and Sociology from Loyola University in New Orleans. While working at Loyola's Personnel Office, she discovered her passion for helping others find jobs. A Miami native, Cheryl moved to the Temple Terrace area in 1985 to work for the former Tampa Tribune
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