Tampa International Airport in Florida has begun renovating its shuttle system by installing two new cars and refurbishing the concrete tracks.
The guideway rehabilitation and shuttle car replacement, which includes design and running surfaces, plus eight cars with their controls and signaling systems, is budgeted to cost US$61m. It is being funded with bonds and state grants. Pairs of new shuttle cars are due to begin arriving from Alstom’s Pittsburgh factory in the autumn of 2024 and will be lifted onto the tracks with a crane after the old shuttles are removed. All four pairs are scheduled to be operational by 2025.
The two new cars will replace the original shuttles at Airsides A and C, which have been carrying travelers to and from Airsides A and C since the 1990s. The new shuttles have been designed with a familiar layout but take design cues from TPA’s SkyConnect train. They will retain the benches at the front and rear of each car but replace the carpets with resilient flooring. Each doorway will feature an overhead dynamic display screen. The Alstom APM-300R is TPA’s third generation of shuttle car from the same company that manufactured the original shuttles the airport used, starting in 1971.
To ensure passengers can reach the terminal during the renovation, the airport will temporarily switch to a single-shuttle operation. At first, the work will happen overnight, between 8pm and 4am, Monday through Friday, starting in mid-April 2023. During that time, crews will replace bearing pads, which act as shock absorbers under the tracks’ steel supports. The work will begin on the blue shuttles at each airside, then switch to the red shuttles.
Meanwhile, temporary canopies are being installed over the walkways between the shuttles at both airsides. In the event of an emergency, these canopies will cover the path and separate walkers from the shuttle guideways with safety mesh, should guests need to walk between an airside and the Main Terminal.
Then in May 2023, the single-lane operation will go into effect full-time as crews remove and replace the concrete tracks entirely, one lane at a time, at both Airside A and C. The new concrete tracks will be ready by the time the new shuttle cars start arriving. Customer service representatives will be stationed at both ends of the shuttles at peak travel times to help direct guests while shuttles are limited to a single lane.
The Hillsborough County Aviation Authority Board of Directors approved the shuttle replacement in October 2021. Car engineering and manufacturing takes about three years; replacement cars for Airside E and the soon-to-be-built Airside D, scheduled to open to passengers in early 2028, have already been ordered. Airside F, which has the newest cars of all the airsides, is also due to get new shuttles in the future. By the end of the decade, all of the shuttles from the Main Terminal will be replaced – and ready for another million miles.
Matthew Deloatche, senior project director for planning and development at TPA, said, “These vehicles, which are built to operate continuously, have run for more than one million miles and served us well over the years. Now it’s time to refresh this integral part of the TPA experience for all our passengers. 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.”
To find out more about Tampa International Airport’s latest developments, click here.