Nov 3, 2023 - News

DASH brings a new era of riding to downtown Tampa

a yellow and black DASH vehicle in front of the Tampa Downtown Partnership building's colorful mural

One of the bright-yellow Teslas that power DASH. Photo: Courtesy of the Tampa Downtown Partnership

Technology in recent years has transformed how people get around Tampa.

  • Cabs yielded to Ubers and Lyfts. Shared bikes turned into scooters, then into e-bikes.

Driving the news: Bright yellow-and-black Teslas are the new wave of downtown transportation.

  • The Tampa Downtown Partnership brought back its ride-share service last month, now called DASH. For a flat $2, you can get just about anywhere downtown β€” if you don't mind sharing a ride.

Flashback: The partnership ran a similar program from 2016 to 2021 called the Downtowner, but it was stopped for lack of state and city funding.

  • The service started out free with electric carts providing "door-to-door" service downtown. It was so popular that riders sometimes had to wait 45 minutes or more, per the Tampa Bay Times.
  • Rides later cost a dollar and carts were replaced with Teslas, then Chevy Bolts, reducing wait times.

How it's different: DASH is funded entirely by the partnership.

  • Instead of picking up riders anywhere, it operates between 20 hub locations throughout the Downtown Core, River Arts District, Channel District, Water Street, Central Park, West Riverfront and Tampa Heights.
  • The hub system will keep wait times down while still keeping the program accessible, Rachel Radawec, public space operations and programming director for the partnership, told Axios.

How it works: The service works on an app similar to ride-hailing services like Uber or Lyft, with rides in Tesla Model Y SUVs.

  • The app pairs up to four passengers to share each trip, similar to Uber Pool.
  • Riders can also request wheelchair-accessible vehicles provided by Ridewyse, which are not electric.

Who drives: A uniformed, background-checked "driver ambassador" picks up riders and acts as a concierge to help with getting around the city. Drivers can also report service and safety issues through the city's code system.

  • "It's given us extra eyes and ears out on the street," Radawec said.

Details: There are six DASH vehicles operated by 13 drivers. The partnership will assess if they want to bulk up the program after a year.

  • The vehicles are charged at the Port Tampa garage, but the partnership is working on getting chargers at its headquarters and at Rivergate Tower.

What we're watching: Transit in and around downtown may look very different starting in the next couple years, thanks to federal funding.


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