19:44 PM

TPA welcomes two new birds to its SkyConnect flock

Tampa International Airport’s SkyConnect flock got a little bit bigger this week with the addition of its two newest members: The Sandhill Crane and Anhinga.

On Feb. 16, TPA welcomed four new train cars – two with larger-than-life depictions of the Sandhill Crane and two featuring the Anhinga – after a 26-month journey to procure, build and ship the vehicles from their factory in Japan.

The total number of vehicles in the system is now up to 16, or eight married pairs. Each pair features an image of a different native bird splashed across its sides.

The vehicles play a key role in the Airport’s future growth, and will help address peak capacity demands when moving passengers between the Main Terminal, Economy Parking Garage and the Rental Car Center.

“We’re tremendously excited to begin testing on these new vehicles and get them up-and-running for our passengers,” said Paul Ridgeway, TPA’s Director of Maintenance. “The addition of these cars will help us out significantly during peak volume times, such as spring break or over the holidays, and will make our passenger experience that much better."

Before they can be passenger-ready, the vehicle must first go through an extensive testing and commissioning period. Due to this and current demand levels, Ridgeway anticipates the vehicles will likely not be put into place until late 2021.

The addition of these vehicles allows the airport to increase capacity by running four-car trains instead of the current two-car operation. This means that far more passengers will be able to be accommodated each time one of these trains pulls into the station.

“The addition of these new vehicles will ensure we have adequate capacity to meet passenger demands well into the future,” said Ridgeway.