Tampa Historic Streetcar Inc. should focus on expanding advertising revenue and hire an executive director to oversee operations, according to recommendations in a report that three area professionals submitted for certification in a University of South Florida business program.
The revenue-plagued streetcar system could generate as much as $1.4 million in advertising revenue annually, but so far this year has only taken in about $34,000, said Laura Wood Garcia national sales manager for the Tampa Convention Center who worked on the report with Carissa Giblin of Mosaic Co. and Kristin Sites of Catalina Marketing Corp.
The streetcar sells advertising at its stations and on wraps of the streetcars.
The wraps, however, require expensive handling to apply and remove. Garcia said the group sold one streetcar advertising wrap contract to a client for $3,600 in their pilot project to explore advertising revenue that generated $600 to the streetcar system after expenses were deducted.
Garcia said she sold $19,500 in advertising in a four-hour session by making seven calls, gaining business from two of them.
Garcia provided the report to the streetcar board Wednesday, which accepted the findings but had no immediate response beyond stating as it has previously it has no money for a director.
The Hillsborough Area Regional Transit Authority provides operators and maintenance for the streetcar and HART officials provide guidance for overall operations for which the board sets policy.
In 2012, streetcar operating expenses outpaced revenue by 3 percent, which triggered a service reduction that resulted in a ridership decline.
The streetcar in fiscal 2013, which ended Sept. 30, carried 295,135 passengers, a 3.6 decline from fiscal 2012.
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