Make us your home page

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Old jitney bus may travel Tarpon Springs streets again

TARPON SPRINGS — When Hercules Ypsilanti sold his prized possession, he turned down a $5,000 offer in favor of $10 and three avocados.

The Tarpon Springs Area Historical Society collected his father's 1926 Chevrolet "jitney" bus from his shed the day after Christmas, nearly a century after Kevitos Ypsilanti started shuttling residents around town in it for about a dime per ride.

It's fitting that Cyndi Tarapani, president of the historical society and original owner of those avocados, commissioned a father-son team, Wayne and Marc Hancock, to restore the bus. It hasn't known life outside a dusty shed since 1951.

"We want to put it back on the streets so that people can see it and appreciate it as part of Tarpon's history," Tarapani said.

Nearly a century ago, the jitney bus was one of five or six in Tarpon Springs. Now, it might be the only one left.

The society plans to showcase it during parades and special events. They may also let residents take a ride one Saturday each month.

The restoration is a $35,000 project, the costliest the society's ever taken on. Tarapani said they've raised about $16,000 so far from residents who want their family names or businesses on the side of the bus.

The Hancocks will restore the bus using only parts that were available in 1926, with only a few exceptions required for safety of passengers.

"I just think it's an exciting project," said Marc Hancock, 40, of Tampa. "I can't wait to drive it, just to feel it."

The Hancocks hope the bus will be street-ready in a year to a year and a half. But first, there's a wooden frame to be restored, a body to be painted, electrical work to be done and more.

They're not worried. They've restored at least 10 vehicles together, many of them 1920s cars.

"We like the challenges," said Brooksville resident Wayne Hancock, 75.

Former Tarpon Springs Mayor Anita Protos, now 71, collected money from jitney passengers in a cigar box years ago. She and other girls would ride the bus all day while eating bread, cheese and salami from local Greek businesses. Protos now sits on the historical society's board.

"It wasn't just Greek people who rode it," she said. "These are the roots of the entire community."

Old jitney bus may travel Tarpon Springs streets again 01/07/14 [Last modified: Tuesday, January 7, 2014 3:54pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. An attempt to project what Rays will look like in 2018

    The Heater

    BALTIMORE — We know what the Rays look like this year: a team that had enough talent but too many flaws, in construction and performance, and in the next few days will be officially eliminated from a wild-card race it had a chance to win but let slip away.

    Adeiny Hechavarria, high-fiving Lucas Duda, seems likely to be brought back.
  2. Trump fallout: Bucs' DeSean Jackson to make 'statement' Sunday


    Bucs receiver DeSean Jackson said Saturday that he will make a "statement" before today's game against the Vikings in response to President Donald Trump's comment that owners should "fire" players who kneel in protest during the national anthem.

    Tampa Bay Buccaneers wide receiver DeSean Jackson (11) makes a catch during the first half of an NFL game between the Chicago Bears and Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa, Fla., on Sunday, Sept. 17, 2017.
  3. Kriseman invites Steph Curry to St. Pete on Twitter


    Mayor Rick Kriseman is no stranger to tweaking President Donald Trump on social media.

    Mayor Rick Kriseman took to Twitter Saturday evening to wade into President Donald Trump's latest social media scuffle
  4. Death toll, humanitarian crisis grow in Puerto Rico


    SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico — A humanitarian crisis grew Saturday in Puerto Rico as towns were left without fresh water, fuel, power or phone service following Hurricane Maria's devastating passage across the island.

    Crew members assess electrical lines in the aftermath of Hurricane Maria on Friday in Puerto Rico. Mobile communications systems are being flown in but “it’s going to take a while.”
  5. N. Korea says strike against U.S. mainland is 'inevitable'


    North Korea's foreign minister warned Saturday that a strike against the U.S. mainland is "inevitable" because President Donald Trump mocked leader Kim Jong Un with the belittling nickname "little rocketman."