Art is Important
Within many transit agencies, you’re often times going to find some sort of artistic display catching your eye – whether it be a mural at a transit station, a neatly decorated bus stop, or a special vehicle wrap. In the case at Hillsborough Area Regional Transit, it’s the vehicle wrap that catches the eye.
Thanks to a partnership between HART & the Tampa Bay Foundation for Architecture & Design (TBFAD), the Art on HART program was launched, allowing one of the transit agency’s buses to be transformed into a moving artistic canvas for a year. For the inaugural 2019 selection, bus #1018 featured a wrapping called Soundwaves, which depicted a variety of individuals playing various musical instruments in front of a festive background that included the downtown Tampa skyline. It was truly a beautiful wrap & I had hoped to be able to catch the bus myself – & almost did too.
As of Tuesday, September 17, 2019, HART & TBFAD officially opened up the process to allow interested artists to convey their desire to participate in the 2020 selection. HART’s In Transit blog has more information on how to do just that. Entries will be accepted up until Friday, November 15, 2019 @ 5:00pm ET.
Some of my readers may have heard of the horrific events that unfolded on May 18, 2019 & understand that seeing the various photography of bus # 1018 may revive unpleasant memories of what happened that day. I was actually en-route to Hillsborough from Pinellas when the incident that claimed the life of HART bus operator Thomas Dunn occurred. As I rode HART Route 35 from the Northwest Transfer Center to the Tampa International Airport bus hub, I noticed that the two 2012-series buses that HART acquired from Sarasota County Area Transit (#’s 1217 & 1218 – both operating on Route 275LX) were swapped out for 2013-series buses.
My original plan was to take either 1217 or 1218 to Marion Transit Center & catch 1018 on the MetroRapid route from there. When the bus swap out occurred, something told me to abandon my plans to hop on MetroRapid & instead head to Britton Plaza. Thus, I did just that, catching a Route 30 bus to the intersection of Dale Mabry Hwy & Kennedy Blvd, where I then caught a Route 36 bus to Britton, then a Route 17 bus to my final destination. It was not until that evening that I had heard about the incident on the MetroRapid route.
Mr. Dunn was assigned # 1018 for his final run down the MetroRapid route on Nebraska Ave when the incident happened. Based on what I’ve understood from several HART staff members, # 1018 was not put out to service anymore following the incident. The bus was completely stripped of its electronics (radio, surveillance cameras, farebox, etc.) & the Soundwaves wrapping. The bus was then repainted & eventually put up for auction.
In reading HART’s blog post about the 2020 Art on HART selection process, I noticed that they laid out a specific theme.
This year’s theme touches on how music influences the world around us while encouraging respect for others. Artists are encouraged to incorporate Tampa Bay’s wide diversity of design, architecture, and musical culture into their submission.HART In Transit blog.
Seeing this theme noted in the post really stuck out because it conveys to everyone that the horrible incident has not been forgotten & that we all need to continue what we can do to be respectful to others while using public transportation. At the same time, the theme allows for the continuation to express the utmost artistic & musical talent, as well as the wide variety of architecture & design elements that exists in our region. In my eyes, this theme is bound to produce something visually stunning while bringing the main messages home.