This Memorial Day brings record gas prices to Jacksonville. Are the citizens of Jacksonville now more willing to embrace walking, biking, and public transit?
JTA has not reported any noticeable increase in ridership, so it would seem that most people still must rely on an automobile to get around.
Public opinion may be changing though. The Times-Union has increased their coverage of transit issues, and readers are becoming more receptive to the idea of rail transit and improved bus service. This is a remarkable shift in public opinion from just 8 months ago.
The Shell Station at the corner of 8th and Boulevard, near Shands Hospital, is one of the most expensive pumps in the city.
People now seem more accepting of the idea of biking or walking to work if they have that option. Previously this was the sole domain of the health conscience, cheapskates, and vagabonds. Now, these 'alternate' modes of transit are starting to make sense again.
Most people are still driving their cars and trucks though. Until we can get a comprehensive transit system in place, driving will remain a necessity in Jacksonville. For most of Jacksonville's residents, it's just not feasible to walk to work.
We need to plan for the future. If gas prices do approach $10 per gallon in the coming years, Jacksonville will surely have trouble attracting and retaining residents. Cities with effective mass transit will be the hottest places to live.