History of the Tampa Harbour Island People Mover

Document Type

Conference Proceeding

Publication Date



Department of Civil, Environmental, and Geospatial Engineering


The Harbour Island People Mover was an automated guideway transit people mover service used to carry visitors between Downtown Tampa and the Harbour Island development project across the Garrison Channel. Service began in June 1985 and President Ford participated in the opening of the development and was a passenger on the inaugural ride. The People Mover was manufactured by Otis Transportation Systems and ran on a 2,500-foot elevated concrete guideway between a shopping center on the island and a parking garage adjacent to the downtown. Although the privately owned system opened to much fanfare, ridership remained low and operating costs grew. In subsequent years, there were efforts by the developer, Beneficial Corporation, to sell the system to the Hillsborough Area Regional Transportation Authority (HART). Operations ceased in January 1999 and the guideway was demolished within the year. As part of the settlement agreement for closure, money went into an endowment to be used for the operating costs on the new TECO vintage streetcar line which operates today. This paper/presentation explores the history, characteristics, operations, and lessons from this exciting Tampa people mover project.

Publication Title

Automated People Movers and Automated Transit Systems 2018: Moving to the Future, Building on the Past - Proceedings of the 16th International Conference on Automated People Movers and Automated Transit Systems