Clear53° FULL FORECASTClear53° FULL FORECAST
Make us your home page
Instagram

Caitlin Johnston, Times Staff Writer

Caitlin Johnston

Caitlin Johnston covers transportation, breaking news and features in Hillsborough County. She is a graduate of Indiana University, with her master's from the University of Maryland.

She's always looking for story ideas.

Phone: (813) 226-3401

E-mail: cjohnston@tampabay.com

Twitter: @cljohnst

link
  1. TBX, commuter rail top 2016 transportation priorities for Tampa Bay

    Transportation

    ST. PETERSBURG — Transportation leaders from Pinellas, Pasco and Hillsborough counties met Friday to discuss their 2016 priorities for the Tampa Bay region.

    Though the list has not been finalized, the Tampa Bay Transportation Management Area Leadership Group listed several leading projects:

    Tampa Bay Express, the Florida Department of Transportation's plan to add express toll lanes to Interstates 275, I-75 and I-4, known as TBX....

  2. Commuter rail, TBX top 2016 regional transportation priorities

    Blog

    Transportation leaders from Pinellas, Pasco and Hillsborough discussed their 2016 priorities for the tri-county area Friday.

    The following projects lead the list, which has not been finalized: Tampa Bay Express, a transportation hub at West Shore connecting downtown and the airport, commuter rail along CSX tracks, a regional farebox system, and improvements to the Duke Energy Trail....

  3. Hillsborough commissioners face April deadline to decide on transportation referendum, mobility fees

    Transportation

    TAMPA — Hillsborough County commissioners went through their own Groundhog Day on Thursday as they discussed, yet again, how to pay for much-needed transportation improvements.

    It's a conversation they've had countless times over the past several years. But now there's a deadline looming.

    County Administrator Mike Merrill told commissioners they have until April 6 to vote on two potential solutions: putting a half-cent sales tax for transportation on the November ballot and requiring developers to pay more for the roads and transit projects needed to support new growth....

  4. HART to offer free rides for students this spring

    Blog

    Middle and high school students will be able to ride Hillsborough County buses for free this spring, in a move that transportation leaders hope will boost transit use in the area.

    The Hillsborough Area Regional Transit Authority will once again offer free rides to students under 18 who show their school ID starting March 1.

    This is the seventh year of the program, which normally only runs in March to coordinate with spring break. However, HART is extending the discount through June 10 this year. At the end of the three months, officials will determine whether the program will be continued on a larger scale, perhaps for the whole year....

  5. Gasparilla: to Uber or not to Uber?

    News

    TAMPA — As Tampa Bay's biggest party weekend approaches, wannabe pirates are finalizing their plans, including how to get home from Saturday's Gasparilla festivities.

    Sure, there are cabs, buses and designated drivers. And then there is Uber, the rideshare company that came to Tampa more than a year and a half ago and has caused all sorts of drama.

    On the plus side, it's cheap. Usually. Fares are 65 cents a mile while cabs are set at $2.40 a mile. Riders can use an app on their phone to page a nearby driver and watch on the map as the car approaches — which means no waiting around for 20 minutes wondering when your ride is going to arrive....

  6. Gasparilla: to Uber or not to Uber?

    Blog

    As Tampa's biggest party weekend approaches, wannabe pirates are finalizing their plans, including how to get home from the Gasparilla festivities.

    Sure, there are cabs and buses and designated drivers. And then there is Uber, the rideshare company that came to Tampa more than a year and a half ago and has caused all sorts of drama.

    On the plus side, it's cheap. Usually. Fares are 65 cents a mile while cabs are set at $2.40 a mile. Riders can use an app on their phone to page a nearby driver and watch on the map as the car approaches -- which means no waiting around for 20 minutes wondering when your ride is going to arrive....

    The Uber app shows no cars available in downtown Tampa as area Uber drivers protest by Lykes Gaslight Square Park. Fares were reduced to 65 cents per mile recently, and some drivers say it is unfair. 
  7. Stephen Diaco stripped of his law license by Florida Supreme Court

    Courts

    TAMPA — Stephen Diaco is no longer a lawyer in the state of Florida.

    He was permanently disbarred by the Florida Supreme Court, according to a Thursday court filing, a move long expected as the state's highest court punishes three Tampa lawyers who orchestrated the arrest of rival lawyer C. Philip Campbell in 2013.

    "Stephen Diaco is now finished as a lawyer, and deservedly so, for his role in the scandal involving the setup arrest of Phil Campbell," said John Fitzgibbons, the attorney for Campbell....

    Stephen Diaco is one of three found responsible for arranging the 2013 DUI arrest of an adversary.
  8. Tampa Bay reopens to ship traffic after heavy fog closed bay for much of day

    Weather

    TAMPA — Dense fog closed Port Tampa Bay for much of the day Thursday, preventing a Carnival Cruise ship and other vessels from entering or leaving.

    The Carnival Paradise was schedule to arrive in downtown Tampa at Cruise Terminal 3 at 8 a.m. Thursday after sailing to Grand Cayman and Cozumel for five days.

    However, the heavy fog, which obscured the tops of downtown buildings and hung over the bay, limiting visibility on the bridges, made it impossible for the ship to enter the bay through the Skyway Bridge and make its way to Port Tampa Bay....

  9. Child hit by SUV at Tampa apartment complex dies

    Accidents

    Leonard Pineda, 12, Leonard, left, is shown in a family portrait.
  10. Gasparilla, construction and concerts add up to a traffic nightmare Tampa officials hope to prevent

    News

    TAMPA — Driving in downtown Tampa as hordes of pirates descend on the city is a nightmare in and of itself. Now add a mess of road construction, a performance of The Lion King and a Little Big Town concert and things really get interesting.

    But the city says it's ready for the congestion, armed with detours and traffic plans aimed to ease the worries of frazzled drivers who will attempt to navigate downtown during Saturday's annual Gasparilla parade....

    Parade goers crowd the route into downtown at the 2014 event. [Times files]
  11. Uber faces new batch of issues in Tampa Bay

    Blog

    Despite a temporary cease-fire with local regulators, Uber continues to face all sorts of issues in the Tampa Bay market, including a lawsuit, driver protests and the embarassing mistake of revealing a woman's Social Security number to other drivers.

    Jami Ermlich, 34, was notified by drivers in several different states on Sunday when the company made her 1099 form available to other drivers. Uber issued a statement saying it was in touch with Ermlich, who lives in New Port Richey, and that it values partner privacy....

    Reynaldo Suliveres, 42, chants with Tampa area Uber drivers by Lykes Gaslight Square Park in Tampa. Fares were reduced to 65 cents per mile, and some drivers say it’s unfair.
  12. Uber reveals New Port Richey woman's personal data to other drivers

    Transportation

    It started with a Facebook message from her sister Sunday night. Then notifications from strangers started rolling in saying that Uber had released the New Port Richey woman's tax form — including her social security number and address — to Uber drivers nationwide.

    Jami Ermlich, 34, was stunned. At first, she thought it was a joke. Then she saw the screenshots. There, on other people's computers, was her personal information, social security number and all....

    Jami Ermlich sits inside her car, which she used for her job as an Uber driver, outside a law office at 8910 North Dale Mabry Highway on Tuesday afternoon, January 26, 2015 in Carrollwood.
  13. DOT now says drivers can expect Interstate 275 delays in Tampa for another six weeks

    Transportation

    TAMPA — The Florida Department of Transportation told frustrated drivers last week that the traffic backups caused by the new lane alignments on northbound Interstate 275 would improve as everyone adjusted to the new path.

    After a week of snarled congestion that has stretched as far south as the Pinellas side of the Howard Frankland Bridge, state officials stand by their claim that traffic will ease with time — but now with one caveat:...

    Viewed from the southbound lanes, traffic in the northbound lanes of I-275 in Tampa backs up and crawls along. The Florida Department of Transportation says delays will last for six more weeks.
  14. Lyft follows Uber's lead, cuts rates in Tampa Bay

    Blog

    Rideshare drivers in Tampa Bay took another hit on Friday when Lyft notified them that the company is following its competitor’s lead and slashing fares.

    “No driver likes a price change, so we try to make them only when we have to,” said an email Lyft sent to its drivers. “With recent price changes from the competition, we need to take action to protect ridership and your long-term earnings.”...

  15. Uber's low fares spark backlash: drivers protest pay cuts, customers may face surge pricing

    Transportation

    TAMPA — Uber dropped its fares last week to entice more riders, but it's a strategy that could backfire, harming both drivers and customers.

    Drivers say it will slash what they make working for Uber and expose customers to record surge pricing — particularly with Gasparilla two weeks away.

    More than 50 drivers gathered Thursday in downtown's Lykes Gaslight Square Park to protest the 32 percent price cut that went into effect over the weekend. At times during the rally, users who opened the Uber app couldn't request a driver....

    The Uber app shows no cars available in downtown Tampa as area Uber drivers protest by Lykes Gaslight Square Park. Fares were reduced to 65 cents per mile recently, and some drivers say it is unfair.