Tampa

By | 16th January 2018

Do you a car in Tampa?

Do you need a car in Tampa > Should you rent a car in Tampa USA > Tampa ( TPA ) Do you need a car in Tampa? Is it worth hiring a car in Tampa? Should you rent a car in Tampa?

Tampa Car hire summary


Overall drive rating

Based on a weighted score across all cost and quality factors. [Full notes - drive rating]

80%

  • Price alone isn't the only factor in determining whether or not it's worth hiring a car in Tampa but clearly it's an important one. See our "why" section for more figures.
  • Cost factors include - price of car hire (peak and off peak season), car hire extras, fuel, tolls and parking costs.
  • Quality factors include - scenic drives, road quality and upkeep, general safety and congestion levels.
  • A complete index of all 10 factors will be uploaded shortly.

Cheapest rate for one week

Based on cheapest economy car hire deal with no added extras. [full notes - basic costs]

€165

 #196/300

  • This is the very lowest price we could find for a one week car rental period in Tampa during the quiet season.
  • You will almost always end up paying more than this figure, but any extra costs or supplementary charges are usually determined by the renter, so we cannot easily compare like with like.
  • In many cases, rental companies will offer a cheap rental and then expect you to take out expensive insurance waivers. There are always ways to avoid this!

How much should I expect to pay in the peak season?

Based on cheapest deal during the summer holiday season. (Unless otherwise noted) [full notes - seasonal variations]

 €215

144/300

  • During the peak holiday season, public transport is often better value, as many train and bus fares are fixed throughout the year. See our "why not" section for more suggestions.
  • For most featured destinations, the peak season will be during the summer, typically July and August for northern hemisphere destinations. However, peak demand might occur at different times, for example in some ski resorts or winter sun destinations etc.


Free parking score

Based on the number of hotels which offer free parking. Total 216 - of which 156 have free parking. [full notes - parking]

72%

#43/300

  • Free hotel parking is very useful to have when you are hiring a car, and it's always worth checking ahead beforehand.
  • If free hotel parking is not available, you might want to consider renting a car for a single day, rather than for your whole trip.
  • The availability (or lack of) free hotel parking can be a really important factor in determining whether or not it's worth hiring a car in Tampa, as it can be a significant extra daily cost which you won't usually be paying at home!
  • Parking costs play a very major part in our consideration of whether or not it's worth hiring a car in each destination.
  • By using public transport, walking or hiring a bicycle, you can avoid having to worry about parking charges altogether! See our "why not" section for more suggestions.

Tampa public transport quick facts

Train score

Higher scores go to the systems which don't just take you to the most amazing places, but also to the ones which are easy to use, fast, reliable and frequent. A good train system on its own is usually enough to determine that you don't need to hire a car in many destinations.

00%

  • [full notes trains]
  • Trains include all kinds of urban rail system from trams up to metro and suburban networks.
  • Trains also include mountain railways and cable cars.
  • Generally, places with a good rail network will automatically mean that you don't "need" to hire a car, but you can still might find that on balance you are better off by having one.

Water travel score

This is a general rating for all types of water travel, including scheduled ferries, sea / rivers cruises and excursions in Tampa

30%

  • [full notes - water score]
  • The water score looks at means of transport on water - it does not consider water based activities like surfing or kayaking.

Overall public transport score

This is a more practical rating based on bus and rail travel, and also including ferries and other boat services, where they are part of the public transport network.

10%

  • [full notes - overall transit] buses | trams | metro | local & regional rail | national rail
  • Is public transport in Tampa good value, or is it worth hiring a car just because it is cheaper overall?
  • Even if public transport is cheap and reliable, you might still feel that you should hire a car in Tampa because it will still give you more flexibility to reach out-of-the-way places, especially in rural areas.

Walking and Cycling Overview

Active travel score

This overall rating considers walking and cycling in and around Tampa. It includes factors such as the quality of the street environment, and whether you are likely to feel safe walking or cycling, together with the availability of bicycle hire and the ease of linking walking or cycling routes with public transport.

10%

  • [full notes - active score] walking (city) | hiking | cycling (city /  country).
  • A high active travel score means that you might not need a car in Tampa, because you can see everything you need to see using a combination of your own two feet and the public transport system.

Car rental in - Tampa Need v worth & should!

Whether you have come here asking "do I need a car in Tampa", "is it worth hiring a car in Tampa", or whether or not you "should" hire a car here, these are all slight variations on a similar theme. Here we break each one down according to the criteria we use for each question. This is a weighted score based on the values above. These are explained further in the text which follows - [#why] [#whynot]. Do you need a car in Tampa?

Do you need a car in Tampa?

This is essentially based on whether or not public transport and other "non car" options are good enough to get around and beyond the city. For the lowest "need" score, the destination should have a combination of excellent all-round public transport, great opportunities for walking and cycling, together with poor value car hire or generally poor quality roads. 
  • In destinations where both public transport and car hire options are excellent, the verdict for "do I need a car in  Tampa " will swing towards a strong no, because you can do absolutely fine without one).
Is it worth hiring a car in Tampa?

Is it worth hiring a car in Tampa?

Is car hire good value, especially during the peak season? How does this compare with transit fares? This question mainly looks at issues of cost and practicality.
  • In destinations where both public transport and car hire options are excellent, the verdict for "is it worth hiring a car in  Tampa" will swing towards whichever option offers the lowest overall cost for a group of 2-4 people travelling together.
Should you rent a car in Tampa?

Should you rent a car in Tampa?

Weighing up the above questions, if you are here for the first time AND asking about hiring a car, is it a good idea?
  • The final "carometer" swing is much more opinion based, and it takes into account which options will give you the truly best travel experience (n our humble opinion of course). Where a destination offers an excellent score with or without a car, the swing will go towards whichever option we feel gives the most truly unforgettable experience.
  • Ultimately, it's your choice whether or not you rent a car here. We're trying to give you something that's sufficiently far enough away from a "maybe" to help you make that choice. Ultimately, people only come to us because they are uncertain, but we don't really know what each person's preferences are. Whether we say you should or you shouldn't rent a car in  Tampa, you might also want to look up some of our other cities to see how  Tampa compares with other destinations in  USA or  North America.
  • By using public transport, walking or hiring a bicycle, you can avoid having to worry about parking charges altogether! See our "why not" section for more suggestions.


What does everyone else do?

Do most people hire a car in Tampa?

This is based on our observations of (a) car rental facilities and (b) what we think most people will do here. It's not an exact figure, just an estimate of how likely people are to get hold of a rental car here.
  • his is based on the percentage of people "in the market" who we think are likely to hire a car. This includes anyone arriving on holiday here who would usually hire a car on their travels, so it doesn't include people who don't usually drive (or don't drive), people staying with friends etc.

30%

Visitors per year (million)

  • Cities with more visitors are more likely to have more complex airport car rental arrangements, and generally they will also have better public transport, but this is not always the case, especially in North America.

1

  • [full notes - do as everyone else does?]
  • You may wish to go with the flow, or you might prefer to avoid doing the most popular or obvious option. This will vary according to the range of choice available. This tends to be much higher in destinations which are closer to the middle of the car or no car scale.

Who is travelling?

Your group size and travel budget has a major impact on whether or not getting a rental car is good value compared to using public transport as your main means of getting around. Ultimately, these are all "worth" questions:

Is it worth renting a car in Tampa if I am a solo / budget traveller?

Generally, hiring a car is not good value for solo travellers for multiple reasons, especially as most of the costs of renting apply to the car, not the occupants. With public transport, the reverse is usually true! However, there are always some places where you will need a car, simply because they are almost impossible to reach using public transport.

Is it worth renting a car in Tampa for 2 people travelling together?

A rental car can be good value for couples or for friends travelling together, but since most cars come with at least four seats, it's often still better value to use public transport. However, if you prefer to keep yourselves to yourselves, then you might still want to rent.

Is it worth renting a car in Tampa for families?

Families of groups of 3-4 people travelling together will always get the best value from a rental car. However, you may also be burdened with extra costs for car seat hire, and you well also prefer to use local trains and buses, if they are quicker than getting stuck in heavy traffic.

Where are you staying?

The place you are staying, together with the sort of places you want to see, will have a large impact on whether or not you "need" to rent a car:

Do you need a car in Tampa if we are staying in the city centre / main resort area?

Most large towns or purpose built holiday resorts will have some kind of public transport, whereas parking provision will vary greatly from one place to the next. 

Do you need a car in Tampa if we are staying on the edge of the urban area?

Typically you may be staying in an apartment or hmall house on the edge of a resort or urban area. These places usually have some level of public transport, but not as much as city / resort centres.

Do you need a car in Tampa if we are staying in a rural area?

Rural proprties might include larger villas or apartments, but they can still be within a short walk of a bus stop or local railway station, and the opportunities for hiking and cycling might also be substantial, depending on the destination.

What is your attitude towards driving?

We can give you suggestions based on whatever we consider to be a "typical" visitor to Tampa, but ultimately your decision is also going to be influenced by whether or not you ususally prefer to hire a car in the first place.

Should I hire a car in Tampa if I prefer not to drive?

This is especially the case when there is only one main driver in the group, and it's based on the attitude of the driver rather than their passengers! The main driver may also simply prefer to use public transport, or they may prefer to take scenic train journeys where available.

Should we rent a car in Tampa if we are easy either way?

This is more aimed at the typical visitor who isn't that bothered about how they get around, as long as it is the most convenient / best value option.

Should I rent a car in Tampa if I prefer to drive?

For people who usually prefer the freedom and flexibility of having a hire car. Is it still best to rent a car in Tampa, or are there good reasons not to?

Of all the 300 cities featured in Carornocar, Tampa really does stand out as the one place where a rental car really is completely and utterly essential – more so even than cities like Phoenix.

[top2 num=”275″]

Why should you rent a car in Tampa?

What are the main reasons for hiring a car here? Do you just want to drive locally? Do you want to go further afield, or should you even look at taking a road trip? In terms of factors like the cost of the hire itself, fuel costs, road tolls and parking charges, is it worth hiring a car in Tampa?

Now there are plenty of American cities which sprawl across large areas, but which have at least made some attempt at installing a light rail system (Houston, Dallas and Denver for example), and there are even sprawling American cities in the (geographical) south which actually have heavy rail mass transit systems, but where a hire car still makes more sense, including Miami, Atlanta and Los Angeles.

Then. There. Is. Tampa!

Tampa really does stand out on its own as somewhere that it feels like an act of self punishment to come here and not have access to a car in some form.

Yet we also think that Tampa is a great place for a visitor to drive, notwithstanding the more than occasional spot of congestion, which can always be found in any city that builds itself around the car and makes little effort to provide any alternatives. As a driver in Tampa, you will find that you aren’t just rewarded with multilane highways, but that the city and the neighbouring area also has a huge network of fantastic bridges, which can turn any drive from drudgery to delight, especially if you are travelling outside the peak periods.

Now we shouldn’t dismiss Tampa entirely by saying that there is no public transport here, as that is not the case. There is simply no substantial rail-based public transport, other than a token trolley (the TECO line) in the downtown area, and a daily train service running between Miami and Washington DC, that takes a dogleg route to call in at Tampa.

Of course, there are still all of the usual buses, including bus connections between Tampa International Airport and not just downtown Tampa, but also St Petersburg and Clearwater. Naturally, there are also scheduled coach services running from Tampa to Orlando and also down to Miami, but none of these public transport options are anything like as flexible as driving. If you want to look up any sample trips, just try making it between Tampa and St Petersburg without a change of bus! Yes, you cando it, but you are relying on a pre-booked Greyhound, instead of a turn up and go urban or regional bus. Any journey between the two centres is going to take 90 minutes to two hours by bus, compared to just under an hour in a rental car, in light to mid-level traffic.

This is why Tampa is the only destination to score a full 10.0 on our index of car hire necessity. We don’t think that such a score is a remotely good thing, because it means that there is little choice for visitors, or for anyone else either. You don’t just need a car to come here, you need a car to get around on every small journey, and you’ll need a car just to get across the road from the grocery store parking lot to the drive-in restaurant on the other side.

The city is also a complete nightmare to walk around, unless you are keeping yourself just to the more historic downtown areas.

Things really don’t get any better once you head towards the huge white sandy beaches that bring people to the Tampa Bay area in the first place. One strip mall will lead to another, but if you want to go between them using your own two feet, you will find little shade from the sun, and none at all from the wide lanes of traffic.

Why not? Visiting Tampa without a car

What is public transport like in Tampa? What about local conditions for walking or cycling? Can you rely on public transport and maybe a few taxis for most or all of your trip? Are there some times of year when it's easier to get by without a car than others? When should you rent a car in 3?
  • No reason to visit Tampa without a car, if you have the choice of getting one.
  • You can visit the Tampa Bay area by coach from various points in Orlando, either by scheduled coach, or by a free service for guests of Busch Gardens – see Mears Express.
  • TECO trolley operates in downtown Tampa – it’s largely a heritage throwback, but it runs through areas where you can also walk between most places.
  • If you are just coming to laze on the beach, you will be fine – various airport shuttle services are available throughout the region.

Tampa really is the ultimate in car dependent sprawl, and the area is worse off because of it.

Ratings

Our slider ratings range from 0 (it isn't even possible to hire a car, e.g. Hong Kong) through to 10 (you really must rent a car here, e.g. Phoenix, Tampa). However, most places are somewhere inbetween these extremes, and this is where it gets more interesting! Further ratings breakdowns, including a much more detailed public transport rating, are currently being added. If you have any questions or comments, please leave them below.

Verdict

What is our final score for Tampa on the Carornocar scale?

Remember, this isn't so much a rating of the road network, or a score for what we think of the buses or trains, but it's simply a scale showing the swing between whether or not we think a rental car is a good idea here.

9


Would you hire a car in Tampa?

Have you driven in Tampa? Do you agree with our advice on whether or not it's worth hiring a car in Tampa}? Do you need a car in Tampa? For some or all of the time? Tell us what you think using the comments section below:
Category: USA

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