After 30 years of service, Tampa International Airport shuttles are set to be replaced
New shuttles, tracks, and a new airside terminal are coming to Tampa International Airport, along with increased parking rates that are now in place to help cover the costs.
Tampa International Airport is undergoing a sweeping modernization with renovations due within the next five years.
The first overhaul will be the reconstruction and replacement of concrete tracks for the Airsides A and C shuttles, soon to be followed by new shuttles themselves, according to a news release.
The red and blue shuttles, which travel to Airsides A and C, have been running since the 1990s. Airport officials say their age and mileage — and not their performance — prompted the change.
“These vehicles, which are built to operate continuously, have run for more than 1 million miles, and served us well over the years,” Matthew Deloatche, TPA senior project director for planning and development, said in the release. “Now it’s time to refresh this integral part of the TPA experience for all our passengers.”
Repairs and renovations will begin by night, starting in mid-April, according to the release.
One shuttle will run while crews replace shock absorbers and supports between 8 p.m. and 4 a.m. A mesh safety canopy will allow travelers to walk between airsides, and airport customer service will direct them on the fastest way to get to their correct airside.
In May, the work will switch to a full-time schedule, as crews replace the concrete tracks entirely. New shuttles are set to arrive from a Pittsburgh factory in fall of 2024.
Airport officials say that while advances in technology have completely changed the mechanics and operations of the shuttles, user experience will be almost identical.
“The shuttles will benefit from a three-decade jump in technology, with all new guidance systems and mechanics. How they operate is new, but for guests, the experience will be seamless,” Deloatche said.
Cost for the shuttle replacement is estimated at $61 million and will be covered by bonds and state grants.
Shuttles, which take about three years to engineer and build, have also been ordered in advance of Tampa International's brand new Airside D, which is scheduled to be completed in early 2028.
A new parking program will also take shape in mid-2024, airport officials said.
The project includes demolishing an outdated monorail and installing moving walkways in parking garages. These changes will create an estimated 500 new parking spaces — but they come with a cost.
Citing inflation concerns, the Tampa International Airport and the Hillsborough County Aviation Authority Board of Directors approved a plan to raise the maximum daily cost of economy parking by $2. This change went into effect April 4; the daily cost of economy parking is now $14.
Further rate increases are planned after the new parking spaces are created, according to the release. These increases, which can be expected near the end of 2024, would bring the maximum daily rate for economy parking to $18, long-term parking to $22, and short-term parking to $28.
Airport officials say that even with these rate increases, parking at the airport is priced competitively with other airports.
“The Airport’s Economy Parking Garage is a superior value for our guests when compared to other large airports,” said Laurie Noyes, airport vice president of concessions and commercial parking. “We offer travelers a clean and modern parking garage that’s a quick train ride from the main terminal, instead of a remote surface lot that’s only reachable by waiting for a shuttle bus.”