Florida delegate Karen Dove
Organizers of this month’s Republican National Convention in Tampa Bay received withering criticism from delegates and other attendees after numerous bus delays kept them from getting to and from area hotels. In an effort to reduce traffic congestion and improve safety around the convention site, delegates were supposed to ride buses from Tampa Bay Times Forum to nearby Raymond James Stadium, where another fleet of buses would take them to their hotels. However, communication and technical glitches combined to make one evening of the convention a nightmare for delegates, many of whom were unable to get back to their hotels until 3 a.m. the following morning.
One of the delegates was John Zajicek from Illinois, who was eager to get back to his hotel room for some rest and relaxation when he left the Forum at 11 p.m. after an evening of speeches and festivities. He and others arrived at the bus staging area, but there were no buses waiting to transport them.
"Nobody knew where they were going to catch the bus," said Zajicek. "You would ask one person one thing and go that way, and then somebody else would tell you to go the other way. There were no signs. Nothing. It took a half-hour just to get to the bus."
The Republican National Committee had reserved more than 400 buses to ferry delegates to more than 100 hotels throughout the sprawling Tampa Bay metropolitan area. Getting delegates to the convention site went smoothly without incident. However, getting them back to their hotels was another matter entirely. After that evening’s final speaker, delegates came pouring out of the arena and began wandering around the facility looking for their assigned buses. When buses eventually arrived and transported passengers to Raymond James Stadium, delegates encountered more delays as buses inched their way along a narrow two-lane road to enter the parking area. Many delegates were forced to move from bus to bus, asking drivers if their bus was designated to take them to their particular hotels.
"It was a disaster," said Karen Dove, a 55-year-old Florida delegate who didn’t get back to her room until after 3 a.m. "It got so bad that people revolted. They actually got off the bus and took a cab."
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