The Tampa International Airport's originally 3-year, now 4-year effort to open a consolidated car rental facility took one step closer this week with the delivery of 12 SkyConnect trains that were lifted onto the guideway of the 1.4 mile $417M automated people mover system. More than 6,900 workers have been part of building SkyConnect and the consolidated rental car center since construction began in November 2014. The guideway structure was finished earlier this year.
The train cars built by Mitsubishi Heavy Industries Ltd. cost approximately $1.9M each and weigh 34,200 pounds. Each is designed to last 25 years. They will go through approximately six months of testing, with the goal of opening the system to the public early next year.
Once the system goes online, the SkyConnect trip from the main terminal to the new 2.6-million-square-foot rental car facility will take about five minutes. Passengers arriving at the new rental car center will be greeted by 16 different rental car brands — double what the airport currently offers.
It means that many of the brands currently located off-airport like Ace, Fox, Sixt, and Payless will be able to relocate on-airport. It's something sorely needed at the ninth largest rental market in the country, as the current setup is a mishmash of on-airport companies crammed into the ground floor of the regular garage, and distant off-airport companies that require lengthy shuttle bus rides from the terminal.
Rendering of the new consolidated rental facility