GETTING THERE: Can you ditch your car for a week?

By Chuck Henson, Real Time Traffic Expert
Last Updated: Wednesday, February 28, 2018, 3:57 PM EST

The annual commuter challenge asks drivers to leave the car behind for a week.

Could you do it?

Transit initiatives come and go with little success in this area, yet city planners and transportation agencies continue to envision a Tampa Bay filled with transit options.

"We talk a lot about transportation and trying to bring alternative types of transportation to Hillsborough County and the city of Tampa," said Melissa Zornitta, executive director of Plan Hillsborough.

"Some of the staff suggested, they had heard from other planners in other parts of the country, working in different places that this is something they had tried."

And the commuter challenge was born.

Yeneka Mills commutes from St. Petersburg and took the challenge last year. She has since gotten rid of one of the family cars in favor of Pinellas Suncoast Transit Authority. She said there's no difference in the commute time.

"Which is great because it saves me money. Not only time but also money," Mills said.

Last year was the first year of the Commuter Challenge and it was just the planning commission and its staff that participated. But it went so well that this year they were able to get folks from the City of Tampa, from Center for Urban Transportation at University of South Florida and members of the airport staff to ditch their car and find other ways to work.

Zornitta said the key is preparation.

For example, they had Hillsborough Area Regional Transit come in and present to the team the basics on how to ride the bus.

They also offered transit-related prizes like coast bike share and the pirate water taxi as incentives to participate.

The bottom line? Getting there is possible without the car. All it takes is a little planning and the willingness to give it a try.