Well, I’m proud to be a born and raised Tampanian. Growing up, I attended Chamberlain High and was offered an athletic scholarship to the University of Tampa. After graduation, I joined the police force and that’s where I really had a chance to get to know and serve our community. I was able to meet residents from all over the city and visit all the different neighborhoods. I spent 31 years with the Tampa Police Department, working my way up from a beat cop to Tampa’s first female Chief of Police. That role really solidified my passion for serving Tampa and eventually led to me running for Mayor. I’m so thankful for the journey that got me here today and for the chance to serve our great city.
You have been in office for about 9 months and you’ve been busy, can you tell us a bit about what you’ve already accomplished?
Yes, we have been busy, to say the least! Everyone at the City of Tampa has done a phenomenal job making sure we hit the ground running and start tackling the big issues. In my first 150 days, we passed the city’s largest water and wastewater infrastructure plan, called P.I.P.E.S. We also passed the first budget starting in the black since the great recession. And, one of my biggest initiatives was launching my ‘Transforming Tampa’s Tomorrow’ advisory teams:
- Transportation – Which we are so excited to work with companies like Bird to bring more mobility solutions to Tampa
- Development Services
- Workforce Development
- Affordable Housing
- And Sustainability and Resilience
Tampa was one of the early adopters of Bird. What has that experience been like for the city? In what other ways is Tampa leading the way on innovation?
Tampa was so excited to be an early adopter of e-scooter pilot programs. Transportation is one of our biggest challenges, and something that I’m passionate about improving for our residents. But in order to do that, we have to innovate and embrace micromobility solutions, like Bird.
Every time I’m walking to my office downtown, I see so many people in business suits or on vacation using and enjoying e-scooters. It’s really a great way to get around without having to use a car. It’s fun, it’s convenient, and it’s eco-friendly too. I think it’s been a really great experience for our community. In terms of other innovations, we want to continue working towards a world-class transportation system here in Tampa. My Transportation Advisory Team is currently working with local, regional, and state partners to find smart solutions that will cut down on traffic and allow us to create a better-connected city. There are a lot of exciting projects in the works, and with the help of All for Transportation funds, I think we can truly lead the way on innovation.
What advice do you have for other cities in Tampa Bay adopting e-scooters/developing their programs?
I think communicating with your residents is key. Any time there’s change, it’s important to be as transparent as possible and make sure you’re listening to feedback and adjusting accordingly. At the city, we established a website, tampagov.net/scooters, where riders can find information and links to provide their feedback. Some initiatives that would improve the program might include docking stations to avoid clutter and more of a focus on safety.
In what ways has Bird, and/or other micromobility offerings, impacted Tampa thus far?
Micromobility is a big part of the future of transportation.
With how much our city is growing, it just doesn’t make sense to get back in your car and find a new parking spot, especially if you’re just traveling a few blocks.
E-scooters are a great option for these short trips, and I am thrilled to see our community embracing these types of micromobility solutions.
How can micromobility be scaled in partnership with operators and governments to advance social and environmental goals?
One thing is clear, we all have to work together to solve our transportation challenges. Our city has grown tremendously over the past decade, and we’re not slowing down. So we need to find sustainable mobility solutions that can be scaled for the future. Micromobility is a big part of that solution. We need to encourage public-private partnerships that will give us the best tools to cut down on traffic and get people where they need to be. By giving people more options, we can reduce the number of cars on our streets—which is better for our community and our environment. This also touches on one of my other priorities—sustainability and resilience. We need to create a more sustainable city that can support our growth socially, environmentally, economically, and otherwise.
Favorite Bird memory?
One of my favorite bird memories of all time was zooming down the historic streets of Ybor during the Pride Parade. It was just incredible being surrounded by so many members of our community. I loved the juxtaposition between our past, being our historic city, and our future, with innovations like e-scooters.
Thanks, Mayor Castor!