Much has been discussed over the years about bus rapid transit, skyway/trolley ridership, non-user friendly stops and the city's struggle in creating an environment that helps strengthen the downtown convention market.While JTA does offer a brochure for those looking to use their services to get around downtown, as we ponder expensive solutions to several issues involving downtown, maybe it's time to get back to the basics?
JTA's "Get Around Downtown" brochure would greatly benefit from a few doses of creativity and more exposure in downtown's businesses and public spaces. Adding these two things, along with enhanced stop identity and route information would go a long way in adding transit riders for existing systems and exposing what downtown already has to offer.
Discover In-Town Tampa: Another example from our neighbor to the South
Discover In-Town Tampa is a publication, produced by the HART, that has been highly effective in not only making it easy to use their downtown mass transit options, but promoting inner city businesses and cultural attractions as well. Something it has that JTA's brochure lacks is curb appeal. Another important factor is that the publication ties downtown together with the surrounding core neighborhoods. Instead of being isolated and promoted by its self, the core neighborhoods come as a package deal.
Maps are extremely user friendly and illustrative. This page would be equivalent to JTA's one page brochure shown at the beginning of this article. Here, you'll find route maps/schedule/rate information of downtown's bus, trolley and streetcar lines, as well as a brief chart specifying the location of major points of interests in the downtown core. All similarities between the two documents end here.
A big part in making the HART transit brochure effective, is that the focus is placed on the entire inner city, not just downtown. Imagine JTA making it clear for riders and downtown residents to easily use the skyway and trolley bus to make the core accessible to surrounding areas, like Five Points, San Marco Square and Springfield?
In addition to route, scheduling and locator maps, In-Town Tampa also provides readers with detailed information on periodical special events taking place in that city's urban core. With this in hand, a visitor can not only find out how to get from their hotel to Five Points, with mass transit, but also from dinner in Five Points to a concert at the Florida Theater or special showing at the Karpeles Manuscript Musuem.
So how do can we fund something like this? The simple answer is advertising from businesses located in the areas being promoted by the brochure. Advertising provides the urban core's businesses with more exposure, adds color and creativity to what's currently lacks curb appeal and decreases JTA's expenses associated with producing the information in the first place.
Discover In-Town Tampa... They say you need to learn how to walk before you run. Maybe it's time for agencies and groups like JTA, the CVB, DVI, SPAR, RAP, and SMPA, etc. to coordinate and work together for a change in an attempt to tie our urban districts together with cross promotional advertising and efficient mass transit to create a "Discover In-Town Jacksonville"?