This edition of Friday Rewind should have been posted back in April, 2013, but I had to postpone everything for about two weeks in late April due to unforeseen circumstances. With things getting back on track in May, I thought I would go ahead and reserve June’s installment for talking about my blog’s fifth anniversary!
Whether you’ve been a long-time follower of my blog, or just viewing my current website for the first time, I thank you so very much for visiting! I truly appreciate each and every one of my viewers for stopping by and being able to get something valuable from at least one of my posts or pages. Again, the purpose of my website isn’t just to document my love for public transportation, but it is to help educate others in seeing how valuable public transit is to all of us; whether you’re a frequent transit rider, or have never considered using transit at all.
When I first began to plan out what would eventually become Public Transit as told by HARTride 2012 back in late 2007, I never thought that my idea of a public transit blog would go very far. However, with some input and support from a few folks at SkyScraperCity, I was able to launch my Tampa Transit Utopia Blog on April 13, 2008. As I began to build up my initial blog, I realized that it would be a challenge to post regularly since I was attending school and working part-time. In mid 2009, I was asked by a bus operator, who had spent a short time with one of the public transit districts here in the Tampa Bay area, if I could take over his website that was dedicated to Tampa’s bus system. I gladly accepted the offer and began to build a full-fledged website. This task was by no means easy, and it really took me about a year to replicate the website that he once operated.
In 2010, I began to branch out to other geographical regions to document how public transit is in other areas of the world. Since I had taken a trip to Brussels, Antwerp, and Paris back in March of 2009, I decided that I would branch out to those areas first. In March of 2011, I took a trip to New York City and decided to add that to my list as well, though both portals would remain largely incomplete due to personal obligations.
In 2012, a classmate of mine told me about WordPress and all of its awesome features. I never really caught onto WordPress at first, but when I took a closer look at all of the features, I was definitely amazed! In June of 2012, I successfully moved my blog from Google’s Blogger service over to WordPress, and to say the least, I’ve been very happy with WordPress ever since! In February, 2013, I began to think about what I could do to try to make my current website even better, and I soon realized that I could merge everything I had into one interface and one site, with one web address! Finally, in April of 2013, I took a trip to Norfolk, VA and added a fourth portal to my website, which I’ve since started to rebuild through my WordPress blog. My next step will be to complete my Tampa website migration and slowly close down my old websites. In the meantime, I’ve been conducting a huge reorganization of my current website to make things easier to find. If you’d like to read a more detailed history of my website, click here. I certainly can’t fit everything into just one paragraph, lol.
Shifting gears just a bit now, I will go ahead and go to the main point of this post. On April 13, 2013, as I strolled through Norfolk, VA, I realized that my blog was now five years old! I immediately thought to myself, “Five years! Wow! I can’t believe it’s been five years since I started my blog!” I started to scroll through my earliest posts to see when I had opened up my original blog. I was so thankful that I kept my original posts when I rebranded my blog in 2010 to coincide with the opening of my original website, because I actually had closed down my original blog and then opened another one under a different web address as part of the rebranding efforts. With that said, I will now reflect on my very first blog post that I wrote back on April 13, 2008, titled Welcome to the Tampa Transit Utopia Blog!
The Tampa Bay region of Florida is in dire need of a good mass transit system. But our government and financial burdens keep getting in the way. Well, here is the place where you can share your ideas about the future of Tampa Bay’s mass transit system. Whether it be a ferry system, light rail, monorail, bus rapid transit, or other motive.
DISCLAIMER: Despite what the name suggests. This discussion includes the following areas/counties OUTSIDE of the city of Tampa, Florida and Hillsborough County, Florida.
Pinellas County, FL
Pasco County, FL
Manatee County, FL
Hernando County, FL
Sarasota County, FL
On the same day, I wrote a second post about how badly the Tampa Bay area needs a light rail line.
One of the main proposals for the future of west central Florida’s mass transit system is light rail. Though many incarnations have been brought up in the past. They’ve all been shot down due to financial overruns and government bickering. I would like to see within the next 10 to 15 years…at least a LRT line connecting Tampa International Airport to downtown Tampa.
Beyond that point, the LRT system would need to connect with northern and eastern Hillsborough County, as well as points in Pinellas County. This would set the stage for a more regional rail system that would connect Pasco County and points north, as well as Manatee/Sarasota Counties and other points south. Even Orlando could be part of this regional rail system.
But the foundations must be made first. That is, the LRT line between TPA Airport and downtown Tampa. Without this first and crucial link, I believe that it would be very challenging to get any rail lines built in the bay area. In the next few weeks, I will be materializing my transit map, which will show bus and rail lines throughout the multi-county area. Until this time, please feel free to share your transit ideas.
Although my website has definitely come a long way since my initial posts back in 2008, the reality of seeing any form of passenger rail in the Tampa Bay area remains to be seen. In 2010, voters in Hillsborough County were presented with a sales tax referendum that would have created a dedicated funding source for transit and roadway improvements. However, the plan was very vague and the educational process was not well planned. In addition, the election cycle was very politically polarized and that only made things even more confusion for voters. In the end, the efforts to improve transit in Hillsborough County had failed by an almost 60% margin. Shortly after, plans for a high speed rail line from Tampa to Orlando were cancelled.
In 2014, neighboring Pinellas County is set to put a similar referendum on the November, 2014 ballot. This time, many advocacy groups like Greenlight Pinellas and Connect Tampa Bay are stepping up to help educate voters about how valuable public transit is to everyone, and how enhanced transit can help Pinellas move ahead. Connect Tampa Bay has also helped restart transit talks in Hillsborough County, and my hope is that they will also put a referendum on the November, 2014 ballot, making that election cycle a regional vote for transit improvements. At this point, Hillsborough County leaders are still at odds as to whether to pursue a 2014 vote, but I’m pretty optimistic that something will happen by which both counties can vote on their respective referendums at the same time. I do have to throw some caution to the winds in respect to the economic and political climate, as things on that end are still quite uncertain. Any negative trend in the economy could easily derail both of these efforts, which would further delay any drastic improvement in our public transit systems.