It’s a question I’ve been asked quite a few times over the last couple years. Out of all the cities to go to, why did I go to Tampa? To better answer that, let’s start at the beginning.
My name is Zac, and I am a “Transit Nerd.” Just as it sounds, I’m very interested in all aspects of public transportation. Strangely enough, one of the tools I use to learn more about public transportation is the social media website Twitter. Much like an online forum, it gives me the opportunity to engage with other “transit nerds” that live across the US. It was on Twitter where I first started learning about transit in the Tampa Bay area courtesy of HART bus operator Jason Eames (the voice behind @yobusdriver3507 and Yo Bus Driver!). I got curious enough about HART that when I left town on a vacation in March 2012, I ended up taking a flight down to Tampa.
While I only intended to stay in Tampa for a couple of weeks at most, my vacation quickly became an impromptu move, as I ended up staying in Tampa for a “few” more weeks. 20 in fact. In that time, I got quite a bit of firsthand experience in Tampa transit as I rode on HART every day. It was also a bit of a culture shock for me, as it seemed that everything about transit in general was completely different from what I was used to. While in Tampa, I also got to take in some rides on USF’s Bull Runner system, as well as PSTA on the other side of Tampa Bay.
During my time in Tampa, I had a few posts on my blog as I recapped my journey to/from an open house in Brandon for a fare increase and service change, along with a ride-along report from Route 41 and a day trip to Pinellas County via PSTA. After moving back to the Pacific Northwest, I continued to include coverage of transit in Tampa Bay on my blog, posting about what could have been if the 2010 Hillsborough transit tax had passed and introducing my own proposal for a Tampa Bay light rail system. Among my most recent Tampa Bay transit posts, arguably the most popular of them, was my coverage of the new HART MetroRapid North-South line, which among other things was the only source for a full route schedule at the launch of service.
Recently, I’ve undergone a relaunch on my blog, changing the name from “TransitZac” to “Transit 509.” With that relaunch, I’ve refocused my blog to only cover transit in my neck of the woods, Area Code 509 (Eastern Washington State). Not wanting to give up blogging on transit in Tampa Bay, but also not wanting to spend the time maintaining a second full-time blog, I had to find a different option. That’s why I’m happy to say that I will be joining Hartride2012 here on Public Transit As Told By Hartride2012 as a new guest author.
Among the usual topics covered here, I hope to also feature coverage on transit history in the Tampa Bay area (such as the old streetcar systems and National City Lines), as well as the plans for expansion of the modern systems. I’m sure that I’ll find more topics to cover along the way, but I always take requests/suggestions as well. Lastly, I want to thank Hartride2012 for giving me the opportunity to continue my blogging on Tampa Bay transit here, as well as my readers from Transit 509 who are reading this blog now too.
PS: You can find me on Twitter under the handle @transit509.