Evaluating Tampa’s Downtowner

Dr. Zhong-Ren Peng received a grant from the Florida Department of Transportation to evaluate the first public ridesharing service in Florida.

The Downtowner is a free app-based rideshare within Tampa’s urban core.

September 2, 2019

Transit services in the nation are continually innovating. The Downtowner service in Tampa, Florida, is one such innovation that is attracting national attention.

The Downtowner is a free app-based ride-hailing/sharing service for trips in the downtown area. It is the first public ridesharing service in the state of Florida, and one of only a few in the nation.

The Downtowner aims to fill a mobility gap in the transit system, ease parking needs, and revitalize the local economy. Its service has been expanding over the last few years, and many other cities in the nation would like to follow suit.

Photo by the Tampa Bay Times.

The Tampa Downtown Partnership, which created the Downtowner, however, cannot continue to operate it. They have asked the Hillsborough Area Regional Transit Authority to pay for the service, with help from the Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT). Yet, the agencies lack quantified evidence to determine whether the Downtowner has been achieving its goals and whether the service is cost-effective.

FDOT supported this research project, to be conducted from August 2019 to October 2020, in order to create an evaluation approach to assess the effectiveness, cost-efficiency, and sustainability of the Downtowner’s funding model.

The findings from the project, will help government agencies, business owners, urban planners, and policymakers to better understand the effectiveness and issues surrounding ridesharing services. The results will provide guidance to other cities and states which aim to develop similar systems.

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