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Why Build A Streetcar in Jacksonville?

Cities around the country are planning or building new streetcar systems to focus development in their urban cores. After years of unsuccessful urban revitalization strategies, Jacksonville should consider the impact of viable mass transit investment on the surrounding built environment.

Published May 31, 2010 in Transit      207 Comments    Open printer friendly version of this article Print Article


feature

Why Streetcar, Why Now?



The streetcar is a powerful catalyst for economic development. Although the improved transportation provided by the streetcar will improve the character and feel of the city, the greatest benefits come from the streetcar’s ability to focus and spur investment all along the route.

In other cities, building a streetcar line has been an effective way to increase investment and development in their urban cores.



Despite having 266,005 fewer residents than Jacksonville, Tucson is currently home to a heritage streetcar line (Old Pueblo Trolley) and is aggressively moving forward with the construction of a 3.9-mile modern streetcar line. At the end of September 2009, the FTA gave its approval for Tucson to proceed with final design and construction should begin this year, with a projected late 2011 opening estimated.
 
Portland has seen $2.8 billion in added value to the city. Tampa’s streetcar line stimulated $1.1 billion of development. Little Rock’s route brought $700 million into the city. Even Kenosha, Wisconsin, a city with 710,865 fewer residents than Jacksonville, has seen $175 million in added value along their streetcar line.

Streetcars promote growth and economic development in a myriad of different ways. They make downtown housing more affordable, bring in more customers to support downtown retail, improve property values, create a more vibrant city, and increase public safety by keeping more eyes on the street which improves the overall business climate.  In short, the stimulate the type of development that the JEDC and DVI have dreamed about for years but have been unable to deliver.



Portland image provided by ForAteOh, a member of www.skyscraperpage.com

The Jacksonville area is expected to experience tremendous population growth in the next 50 years. A complete and easy to use transportation network, which the streetcar can be a part of, will ensure that a substantial percentage of this growth occurs in dense urban areas like downtown instead of at the fringes of the city. This form of growth is sustainable as it encourages development that maximizes existing infrastructure, decreases vehicle trips on freeways and arterials, reinforces walkable neighborhoods, and enables a wide spectrum of economic opportunities for a city in desperate need of them.

Source: http://www.cincystreetcar.com/why001.html

Article by Ennis Davis







207 Comments

cityimrov

May 31, 2010, 05:35:42 AM
I'm not a bus rider but I remember a JTA article around here and some other comments mentioning how bad they were.

Won't using Streetcars force JTA to be more competent too?  A streetcar is forced on a certain route due to it's tracks.  JTA says it's bad but isn't that a good thing?  That means that route will never change and due to the high price of a streetcar, it will probably be tracked by some type of central command.  Since it is a brand new streetcar system, each one could also be easily added to a website to track the location of each car via my smartphone.

Of course, I'm probably just dreaming right now.  There's a right way to build a streetcar system and there's a wrong way.  I'm a bit worried that if Jax does approve this, it will be a "streetcar to nowhere."  In a way, lots of lobbying would be needed on the stops this thing would take and thus killing the project because people would say "see, we built this line here and nobody would ride it!" 

vicupstate

May 31, 2010, 08:16:07 AM
These articles, out today, describe the latest efforts for both commuter and high-speed rail in Charleston.

http://www.postandcourier.com/news/2010/may/31/sc-city-aim-to-get-fast-transit-moving/

http://www.postandcourier.com/news/2010/may/31/local-commuter-rail-study-still-under-way/

JeffreyS

May 31, 2010, 08:22:34 AM
We should have built a line ten years ago from Riverside through Downtown to either Springfield or the Sports District.  Our core could have taken full advantage of the market boom and it would have mitigated a little the down turn in the market.
Our next transit solution should be some kind of fixed rail and connect to more residential areas.

Ocklawaha

May 31, 2010, 09:18:17 AM
We had this plan in our city's hands 30 years ago, we should have been first out of the gate with a heritage streetcar system and a working museum.

We would have "been" Portland, San Diego, Salt Lake City, Little Rock or Tampa, and our skyline during the recent boom would have multiplied several times.


OCKLAWAHA

Bativac

May 31, 2010, 11:24:59 AM
Where would the money come from? People in Jax get angry if you consider spending as little as half a million dollars on saving an old building, or providing loans or assistance to developers wanting to renovate historic structures downtown. How will the citizens react to dumping money into a streetcar system? You can predict the responses - "nobody rides the bus anyway, who's gonna ride a streetcar" "what about that useless Skyway," etc.

I read that the Tucson project is costing $182 million, with $63 million coming from the Federal Government. That's a big chunk of change.

How do you talk the people into supporting something like this? Or do you ignore the people and find a mayor who will try to force it thru anyway? (For the record, I'd love to see a streetcar in Jacksonville. But I don't see the majority of local residents supporting it.)

stephendare

May 31, 2010, 11:30:06 AM
Where would the money come from? People in Jax get angry if you consider spending as little as half a million dollars on saving an old building, or providing loans or assistance to developers wanting to renovate historic structures downtown. How will the citizens react to dumping money into a streetcar system? You can predict the responses - "nobody rides the bus anyway, who's gonna ride a streetcar" "what about that useless Skyway," etc.

I read that the Tucson project is costing $182 million, with $63 million coming from the Federal Government. That's a big chunk of change.

How do you talk the people into supporting something like this? Or do you ignore the people and find a mayor who will try to force it thru anyway? (For the record, I'd love to see a streetcar in Jacksonville. But I don't see the majority of local residents supporting it.)

Because that is the cost of 1.5 overpasses, Bativac.

And the amount of traffic and expense needed to maintain fixed rail mass transit is absolutely dwarfed by the amounts needed to maintain the highways.

Keith-N-Jax

May 31, 2010, 11:32:31 AM
Bativac with this way of thinking why do anything.

thelakelander

May 31, 2010, 12:26:16 PM
If the mobility plan is adopted by council this fall, a chunk of the funds needed would come from it. Pool that money with other sources (feds, private sector, state, etc.) and you'll have the money to get it done.

CS Foltz

May 31, 2010, 12:35:28 PM
I agree lake! The "Mobility Plan" at least gives us the framework for intercity rail of some sort or flavor! We need to get this up to speed and as rapidly as possible! Only problem I see is depending on the City Council to get this passed and not really sure they even realize the possibilities!

tufsu1

May 31, 2010, 01:15:02 PM
If the mobility plan is adopted by council this fall, a chunk of the funds needed would come from it. Pool that money with other sources (feds, private sector, state, etc.) and you'll have the money to get it done.

wait...aren't the mobility funds from the private sector?

spuwho

May 31, 2010, 03:02:39 PM
Streetcars require transit based zoning around the "fixed" track to maintain density and ridership. Jacksonville has not shown any propensity to enforce any kind of zoning that promotes this. With this in mind JTA is very reluctant to stick their necks out to lobby and pitch for funds to build something that might get left hanging.

Hence they push for buses which they can redeploy easily based on the zoning whim of the city council. Buses are also a great jobs and patronage engine as they require drivers, mechanics and administration.

Streetcars (or any kind of local transit) requires cooperative and strategic thinking on behalf of the local leadership. As long as they remain reactive, streetcars will never happen here.

JeffreyS

May 31, 2010, 03:58:14 PM
^You will be able to ride a Streetcar in Jax within five years.

Keith-N-Jax

May 31, 2010, 04:11:23 PM
OK Jeffrey 2015-2016 we will see. I doubt it though. Wether it be COJ, JEA, JTA anything containing the name Jacksonville I wouldn't put much belief in it. Tampa and Savannah will be the only street cars we will be riding so enjoy your trip when you visit those places.

stephendare

May 31, 2010, 04:16:00 PM
OK Jeffrey 2015-2016 we will see. I doubt it though. Wether it be COJ, JEA, JTA anything containing the name Jacksonville I wouldn't put much belief in it. Tampa and Savannah will be the only street cars we will be riding so enjoy your trip when you visit those places.

Its reason to be active in this upcoming elections, Keith.  The City is held back not by it assetts and potential but by its blisteringly bad leadership.

Vote out the dumbasses, Vote in smart people who are committed to making the city great.  Too much money and too many people here to have to settle for the pile of puppy muffins that we have now.

RockStar

May 31, 2010, 04:22:18 PM
JTA wants busses, not rail. They've paved over or tore up plenty of existing track to make that painfully obvious. How about a bus that looks like a trolley??? oh we have those... LoL

stephendare

May 31, 2010, 04:24:39 PM
JTA wants busses, not rail. They've paved over or tore up plenty of existing track to make that painfully obvious. How about a bus that looks like a trolley??? oh we have those... LoL

Provided that JTA survives as a single entity over the next two years, of course.

Keith-N-Jax

May 31, 2010, 04:59:19 PM
OK Jeffrey 2015-2016 we will see. I doubt it though. Wether it be COJ, JEA, JTA anything containing the name Jacksonville I wouldn't put much belief in it. Tampa and Savannah will be the only street cars we will be riding so enjoy your trip when you visit those places.

Its reason to be active in this upcoming elections, Keith.  The City is held back not by it assetts and potential but by its blisteringly bad leadership.

Vote out the dumbasses, Vote in smart people who are committed to making the city great.  Too much money and too many people here to have to settle for the pile of puppy muffins that we have now.
Vote in smart people. Tell me again how Peyton got into office and for two terms. JTA = COJ both a fry short of a Happy meal. This poster is right JTA wants buses, that's easy to deal with, we dont want JTA to be exposed for the frauds they are. Street cars and rail actually call for having a brain. Theres no way JTA has not seen or made aware of what other cities have accomplished while we debate over BRT. Its time to put up, or shut up. I am so tired of the oh its take 20 to 30 yrs. They've had that and then some.

stephendare

May 31, 2010, 05:24:05 PM
Keith, I think at the end of the day, Peyton won the first election because of a political misstep with the Fire Union on the part of Matt Carlucci.  He won his second election because no one worth the office ran against him.

The JTA has had fifty years to come up with a mass transit system that works, and they have been claiming that it will be done in 20 years for 40 years of that time.

The Country, the State and even the City have moved on.  Things have to be done right, because the only other option is failure.

And people are rising to the occasion.

At least three of the Good Candidates are also surrounded by a cluster of competent and bright people who will be able to govern the city effectively.

And its probably time we started paying attention to the Council Elections.  Its obvious that there are a few that need to be handed their walking papers.  A couple are so bad that there couldn't plausibly be a worse alternative.

This leaves the independent authorities.

JTA, JEA, The School Board.


And since the Mayor gets to appoint a number of positions on those (except the School Board) this mayoral election is even more important.

stjr

May 31, 2010, 07:16:30 PM
Quote
Streetcars promote growth and economic development in a myriad of different ways. They make downtown housing more affordable, bring in more customers to support downtown retail, improve property values, create a more vibrant city, and increase public safety by keeping more eyes on the street which improves the overall business climate.  In short, the stimulate the type of development that the JEDC and DVI have dreamed about for years but have been unable to deliver.

Hear, hear!  All things the Skyway does NOT do!  And, for less overall costs.  That's why I say close the Skyway and take $14 million a year and put it in street cars.

Where would the money come from? People in Jax get angry if you consider spending as little as half a million dollars on saving an old building, or providing loans or assistance to developers wanting to renovate historic structures downtown. How will the citizens react to dumping money into a streetcar system? You can predict the responses - "nobody rides the bus anyway, who's gonna ride a streetcar" "what about that useless Skyway," etc.

This is exactly why the Skyway needs to be closed and its resources redirected to streetcars.  The locals won't support both and the Skyway is a continuous reminder of the failures of mass transit to date here.  Ock and others think we can have our cake and eat it to.  But limited resources and political realities say "No way!"  Time to get real and make hard decisions or the ineffective status quo will continue.


[/quote]
We had this plan in our city's hands 30 years ago, we should have been first out of the gate with a heritage streetcar system and a working museum.

Ock, you know the answer to this one.  We chose the Skyway instead and it's blocked further consideration of alternatives ever since.  Per my above comment, until the Skyway is killed, it is going to be politically rough going for streetcars as I see it.  Don't make us wait 30 more years.  Sacrifice the Skyway and take the streetcars - NOW!


Keith-N-Jax

May 31, 2010, 07:33:34 PM
So what have we done in the past 30 yrs, what have we accomplished? That would be a good topic.

vicupstate

May 31, 2010, 09:07:59 PM
Quote
Keith, I think at the end of the day, Peyton won the first election because of a political misstep with the Fire Union on the part of Matt Carlucci.


Can you elaborate?  Weren't the Firemen with Peyton from the beginning?

stephendare

May 31, 2010, 09:15:35 PM
No, they were with Matt for most of the early campaign.

Mattius92

May 31, 2010, 09:36:15 PM
SJTR, closing the skyway is kinda stupid. It is built and can be used for a purpose, it was someones fault that it was never completed so it could be used fully. If it was expanded then it plus streetcars and commuter rail will make it actually something to be used.

thelakelander

May 31, 2010, 09:45:38 PM
If the mobility plan is adopted by council this fall, a chunk of the funds needed would come from it. Pool that money with other sources (feds, private sector, state, etc.) and you'll have the money to get it done.

wait...aren't the mobility funds from the private sector?
Although, i'm sure this isn't the point you were trying to make, you are correct.  Actually all public money comes from the private sector. However, there are other ways the private sector can help fund mass transit projects. JTA's bus shelter proposal is a great example.  There is no reason we can't apply similar funding techniques for rail, in addition to mobility plan money geared for these projects.

fieldafm

May 31, 2010, 09:46:39 PM
No, they were with Matt for most of the early campaign.

If memory serves, Mike Tolbert gets the credit for that... no?

cityimrov

May 31, 2010, 09:48:28 PM
Is anyone here going to try and become appointed to the JTA board during the next election?  It looks like a lot of people here care about rail transportation but rail won't happen if things keep going the same way.  JTA could use more people who are truly passionate about transportation issues.

tufsu1

May 31, 2010, 09:50:01 PM
If the mobility plan is adopted by council this fall, a chunk of the funds needed would come from it. Pool that money with other sources (feds, private sector, state, etc.) and you'll have the money to get it done.

wait...aren't the mobility funds from the private sector?
Although, i'm sure this isn't the point you were trying to make, you are correct.  Actually all public money comes from the private sector. However, there are other ways the private sector can help fund mass transit projects. JTA's bus shelter proposal is a great example.  There is no reason we can't apply similar funding techniques for rail, in addition to mobility plan money geared for these projects.

ok...that makes sense...was just confused about the "extra" private sector funds

thelakelander

May 31, 2010, 09:54:04 PM
Some form of rail will happen if some of these projects stay within whatever version of the mobility plan passes this fall.  Quite frankly, to get the initial project off the ground, we don't need JTA, a public referendum or an increase in taxes.

stjr

May 31, 2010, 09:54:49 PM
SJTR, closing the skyway is kinda stupid. It is built and can be used for a purpose, it was someones fault that it was never completed so it could be used fully. If it was expanded then it plus streetcars and commuter rail will make it actually something to be used.

Mattius, everyone of your points has been discussed thoroughly prior to your arrival here.  I ask that you refer to the top Skyway threads in this forum for all the sides to your points.  Three short notes: (1) You are failing to account for the annual operating losses versus the usage and alternatives available, (2) you are advocating expansion without the benefit of a costs/benefit analysis, and (3) on the basis of the original projections, the Skyway is completed.

And an abandoned Skyway actually could have at least one use that would salvage a good part of our investment.  New York City has opened the High Line, an abandoned 100+ year old elevated train platform that runs some 20 to 30 blocks and is now cleverly converted into a version of an elevated "riverwalk" over the streets of New York.  Thousands of people visit it daily.














thelakelander

May 31, 2010, 11:09:08 PM
Streetcars require transit based zoning around the "fixed" track to maintain density and ridership. Jacksonville has not shown any propensity to enforce any kind of zoning that promotes this. With this in mind JTA is very reluctant to stick their necks out to lobby and pitch for funds to build something that might get left hanging.

Hence they push for buses which they can redeploy easily based on the zoning whim of the city council. Buses are also a great jobs and patronage engine as they require drivers, mechanics and administration.

Streetcars (or any kind of local transit) requires cooperative and strategic thinking on behalf of the local leadership. As long as they remain reactive, streetcars will never happen here.

This is happening with the Mobility Plan.  The integration of land use and transportation is a major goal of Senate Bill 360.

Read more here: http://www.metrojacksonville.com/article/2010-apr-jacksonvilles-2030-mobility-plan

I-10east

June 01, 2010, 01:21:38 AM
That NY "High Line" Skyway conversion idea is extreme to say the least.

thelakelander

June 01, 2010, 06:29:13 AM
^The 1.45 mile High Line in NYC cost something like $50 million to construct.  Excluding the money already invested in the existing skyway system, you could probably add a station on Riverside Avenue, extend the thing to San Marco (Atlantic Blvd.) and the Stadium District for a similar cost.

civil42806

June 01, 2010, 07:04:42 AM
To make Ock happy?

thelakelander

June 01, 2010, 08:17:45 AM
I was just trying to gain further understanding of Stjr's position.  On one hand an argument is being made to eliminate the skyway to save money.  Then as the discussion has progressed, a skyway alternative (replacing it with streetcars and turning it into elevated park space) has been proposed that is significantly more expensive than keeping the thing running.

stjr

June 01, 2010, 10:53:59 AM
I was just trying to gain further understanding of Stjr's position.  On one hand an argument is being made to eliminate the skyway to save money.  Then as the discussion has progressed, a skyway alternative (replacing it with streetcars and turning it into elevated park space) has been proposed that is significantly more expensive than keeping the thing running.

At $14 million a year to operate the Skyway and a smaller line than NY, I am not so sure, Lake. Also, from my visit to the High Line, it appears that a non-profit preservation group is raising the funds from many private sources to pay for it, not unlike what some groups here have hoped to do to make a museum out of a retired Navy ship.  Most importantly, they are making lemonade out of lemons.  The area around the High Line, including the Meatpacking District, is undergoing a resurgence in restoration and new investment.  Those extra property taxes should be beneficial to the City big time.  

Lunican

June 01, 2010, 11:33:10 AM
The High Line was donated to New York City by CSX in 2005.

CSX Transportation Congratulates New York City on High Line Opening
http://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/csx-transportation-congratulates-new-york-city-on-high-line-opening-62073432.html

stjr

June 01, 2010, 11:55:13 AM
OK, here is more from the preservation group, Friends of the High Line, web site at: http://www.thehighline.org/

Quote
1934

The High Line opens to trains. It runs from 34th Street to St. John’s Park Terminal, at Spring Street. It is designed to go through the center of blocks, rather than over the avenue, to avoid creating the negative conditions associated with elevated subways. It connects directly to factories and warehouses, allowing trains to roll right inside buildings. Milk, meat, produce, and raw and manufactured goods come and go without causing street-level traffic.

1950s

Growth of interstate trucking leads to a drop in rail traffic, nationally and on the High Line.

1960s

The southernmost section of the High Line is demolished.

1980

The last train runs on the High Line pulling three carloads of frozen turkeys.

Mid-1980s

A group of property owners lobbies for demolition of the entire structure. Members of this group own land under the High Line that was purchased at prices reflecting the High Line's easement. Peter Obletz, a Chelsea resident, activist, and railroad enthusiast, challenges demolition efforts in court and tries to re-establish rail service on the Line.

1999

Friends of the High Line is founded by Joshua David and Robert Hammond, residents of the High Line neighborhood, to advocate for the High Line's preservation and reuse as public open space.

2001 - 2002

The Design Trust for Public Space provides a fellowship for architect Casey Jones to conduct research and outreach for "Reclaiming the High Line," a planning study jointly produced by the Design Trust and Friends of the High Line, which lays out planning framework for the High Line's preservation and reuse.

March 2002

Friends of the High Line gains first City support—a City Council resolution advocating for the High Line's reuse.

October 2002

A study done by Friends of the High Line finds that the High Line project is economically rational: New tax revenues created by the public space will be greater than the costs of construction.

December 2002

The City files with the federal Surface Transportation Board for railbanking, making it City policy to preserve and reuse the High Line.

January – July 2003

An open ideas competition, "Designing the High Line," solicits proposals for the High Line's reuse. 720 teams from 36 countries enter. Hundreds of design entries are displayed at Grand Central Terminal.

July 2003

Friends of the High Line and the City jointly testify before the Surface Transportation Board in support of High Line reuse.

March – September 2004

Friends of the High Line and the City of New York conduct a process to select a design team for the High Line. The selected team is James Corner Field Operations, a landscape architecture firm, Diller Scofidio + Renfro, an architecture firm, and experts in horticulture, engineering, security, maintenance, public art, and other disciplines.

September 2004

The State of New York, CSX Transportation, Inc. (the railroad company), and the City of New York jointly file with the Surface Transportation Board to railbank the High Line.

April 2005

An exhibition showcasing the preliminary design by James Corner Field Operations and Diller Scofidio + Renfro opens at the Museum of Modern Art.

June 2005

The Surface Transportation Board issues a Certificate of Interim Trail Use for the High Line, authorizing the City and railroad to conclude railbanking negotiations.

November 2005

The City takes ownership of the High Line from CSX Transportation, Inc., (which donates the structure), and the City and CSX sign a Trail Use Agreement. Taken together, these two actions effectively preserve the High Line south of 30th Street.

April 2006

Groundbreaking is celebrated on the High Line with the lifting of a rail track. The first phase of construction on Section 1 of the High Line begins.

April 2006

Construction begins on Section 1 (Gansevoort Street to 20th Street). Tracks, ballast, and debris are removed, and the tracks are mapped, tagged, and stored (some will be reinstalled in the park landscape). This is followed sandblasting of steel, repairs to concrete and drainage systems, and installation of pigeon deterrents underneath the Line.

2008

Landscape Construction begins on Section 1, with construction and installation of pathways, access points, seating, lighting, and planting.

June 2008

Final designs are released for the High Line's transformation to a public park.

June 2009

Section 1 (Gansevoort Street to 20th Street) opens to the public.

2011 (Projected)

Section 2 (20th Street to 30th Street) opens to the public.

And, how 'bout this compared to the development NOT sparked by our Skyway (note, too, the mayoral leadership for preservation):

Quote
By some accounts, the coming of High Line Park -- which laces from the Meatpacking District up through west Chelsea -- has sparked roughly $900 million in new development along the surrounding blocks running from Gansevoort to 30th streets.

Built in the 1930s to carry freight, the High Line runs through the middle of blocks -- and even buildings -- between 10th and 11th avenues, offering an intimate view of the city and preserving a legacy of New York's industrial past.

The High Line was slated for demolition during the Giuliani administration.

By 2002, with Mayor Bloomberg's solid backing, it was formally saved, and the city threw its weight behind creating the park.

http://www.thehighline.org/press/articles/060809_nypost1/

Mattius92

June 01, 2010, 11:56:32 AM
The Skyway is almost useless without it being expanded. It doesnt connect any residential communities at all. There for it is pretty much stupid to ride it, when you have to drive anyways to get to the closest skyway station. Yet poeple are so against it because it is a money waster, soooo majority of transit systems dont make money, but the affect they have on the economy around it is huge.

Invest in lengthening it and then it will actually be of use. According to my calculations around 3-4 miles need to be added to make it connect the Sport Complex, 5 points, and San Marco. 

stjr

June 01, 2010, 12:02:06 PM
Lake, you were a "little" under on the cost estimate per the NY Times article below.  It was $152 million for the first two sections with $44 million of that raised from the private sector.  On the other hand, is has led to a major revival of an entire section of Manhattan with already, in its first year, 30 new projects planned or started.  Seems like everyone in NY is happy with the return on investment.
Quote
June 9, 2009
Renovated High Line Now Open for Strolling
By ROBIN POGREBIN

Standing on a newly renovated stretch of an elevated promenade that was once a railway line for delivering cattle — surrounded by advocates, elected officials and architects who made the transformation happen — Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg cut a red ribbon on Monday morning to signify that the first phase of the High Line is finished and ready for strolling.

Calling the High Line, which opens to the public on Tuesday, “an extraordinary gift to our city’s future,” Mr. Bloomberg said, “Today we’re about to unwrap that gift.” He added, “It really does live up to its highest expectations.”

The first portion of the three-section High Line, which runs near the Hudson River from Gansevoort Street to West 20th Street, will be open daily from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. There are entrances at Gansevoort Street (stairs) and at 16th Street (elevator); exits are located every few blocks.

The second phase, which extends to 30th Street, is under construction and expected to be completed by fall 2010. The third phase, up to 34th Street, has yet to be approved.

The High Line project is something of a New York fairy tale, given that it started with a couple of guys who met at a community board meeting in 1999 — Joshua David, a writer, and Robert Hammond, a painter — and discovered they shared a fervent interest in saving the abandoned railroad trestle, which had been out of commission since 1980 and was slated for demolition during the Giuliani administration. That began a decade-long endeavor that involved rescuing the structure and enlisting the Bloomberg administration in its preservation and renovation.

Scott M. Stringer, the Manhattan borough president, called the project “a great West Side story.”

The City Council speaker, Christine C. Quinn, described it as “a miracle of perseverance,” and said, “The idea could easily have gone into a file, ‘great ideas that will never happen.’ ”

With all the bureaucratic hurdles that the project had to overcome, it was fitting that so many representatives of different arms of local government were there for Monday’s celebratory news conference, including Amanda M. Burden, the city planning commissioner; Adrian Benepe, the parks commissioner; Representative Jerrold Nadler, Democrat of New York; and Seth W. Pinsky, the president of the New York City Economic Development Corporation. Also present were two couples who have been the project’s major benefactors — Diane von Furstenberg, the fashion designer, and her husband, the media mogul Barry Diller, and Philip Falcone, a hedge fund billionaire, and his wife, Lisa Maria Falcone.

The walkway, designed by James Corner Field Operations and Diller Scofidio & Renfro, includes more than 100 species of plants that were inspired by the wild seeded landscape left after the trains stopped running, Mr. Bloomberg said. He added that the High Line has helped to further something of a renaissance in the neighborhood; more than 30 new projects are planned or under construction nearby.[/color]

One of those projects includes a new satellite for the Whitney Museum of American Art, designed by Renzo Piano, which will anchor the base of the High Line at Gansevoort.
The mayor announced on Monday that the city was finalizing a land sale contract with the museum.

The first two sections of the High Line cost $152 million, Mr. Bloomberg said, $44 million of which was raised by Friends of the High Line, the group that led the project.

All of the speakers’ comments echoed the triumphal subject line of an e-mail message sent out by Friends of the High Line right after the festivities had concluded: “We did it.”

http://www.nytimes.com/2009/06/09/arts/design/09highline-RO.html

Mattius92

June 01, 2010, 12:12:15 PM
Converting the skyway into something like the high line is not going to work. The idea of it was just stupid for the skyway. The high line in NYC is a lot wider and larger then the skyway and on top of that it was built for freight. Not an monorail system. And that cost you are talking about is the cost of converting the high line into a greenway. Not the initial cost of the building the actual system.

thelakelander

June 01, 2010, 12:17:02 PM
Stjr, so what are you advocating? Is the goal about better transit or turning the skyway into an elevated park? Or both?

stjr

June 01, 2010, 12:31:12 PM
Stjr, so what are you advocating? Is the goal about better transit or turning the skyway into an elevated park? Or both?

Both! 

Lake, just trying to solve two problems at once.  It seems that one of the biggest Skyway "pros" here on MJ is that we don't want to give up on the existing investment in the Skyway [forget that every year we are pouring more into it than its worth or that to POSSIBLY (after all the other "possibles" in its past failed) make it work we may have to spend who-knows-what more on it].

So, I am trying to offer a way to salvage the investment, removing one more obstacle to why it should be closed.  As stated repeatedly, I also consider this better transit because we will now be able to focus money, energy, and political capital on truly better transit, i.e. something that gives us a real bang for the buck.

Aside from the lost better transit options and the yearly operating losses that give us nothing in return,, when you add up the endless examples of development spurred by mass transit done right (or, even a project like the High Line), its obvious that Jax has incurred huge opportunity costs that likely make the cost of abandonment relatively inconsequential.  Bottom line: I don't see abandonment as a show stopper.

tufsu1

June 01, 2010, 12:35:31 PM
At $14 million a year to operate the Skyway and a smaller line than NY, I am not so sure, Lake.

why do you continue to characterize the losses at $14 million....as documented before, half of this is depreciation....which all facilities (including the High Line Park) have!

Captain Zissou

June 01, 2010, 12:36:38 PM
While the skyway does not turn a profit, can you name any road in Jax that does?  The skyway is an alternative means of conveyance, which its users pay a premium to ride.  That shows they prefer it enough over driving or walking to pay to use it.  Is there any road in Jax that people are willing to pay to drive down?

Mattius- The skyway isn't great, but it isn't useless.  i live on the southbank and I ride the skyway at least once a week to get to the Landing or Hemming.  It's a great convenience for me and I enjoy riding it.

Mattius92

June 01, 2010, 12:41:34 PM
Streetcars can be added to the north and south banks, but there isnt a way to connect them from the North and South banks, that is where the Skyway comes into play. The Skyway happens to be the only transit option across the river other then bus. Once a Streetcar line is integrated with the Skyway it will surely become more used.

And Stjr to convert the skyway into a greenway it the gap between the two tracks would have to be filled. However I do like the idea of the Acosta being converted into a greenway + a pedestrian walkway from the North and South banks.

However doing that should be left as an last resort.

stjr

June 01, 2010, 12:46:27 PM
While the skyway does not turn a profit, can you name any road in Jax that does?  

Captain, I feel like a broken record, but I guess you and some others don't get it, yet.

I don't care that the Skyway loses money but I do care HOW MUCH for WHAT YOU GET.  If it loses $1 million, $10 million, $100 million, a billion .... how much is TOO MUCH??!!  Obviously, I feel we have way crossed over the line.  Remember, almost no one rides this thing after over 20 years of operation AND expansion that promised tens of thousands of daily riders for WHAT IS ALREADY BUILT (forget MORE expansions).  The excuse making on these boards just doesn't hold water.

If you could take the SAME MONEY LOST and get multiple times the return, why wouldn't you seriously consider that?  In business and your personal life, most everyone would move on given this same scenario.  The problem is I don't think may posters here are treating this decision like it IS THEIR MONEY (which, as taxpayers, it is) and acting appropriately.  We live in a world of LIMITS and, sometimes, something has to give to get something else.

Hope this makes it clearer for you.  :)

tufsu1

June 01, 2010, 12:53:11 PM
stjr....the Skyway gets 2,000 riders a day (was over 3,000 at its height)....this isn't much different from the projections for commuter rail in orlando or here for that matte....are those ideas also bad?

Mattius92

June 01, 2010, 12:54:20 PM
Jacksonville didnt have a proper transit system 20 years ago when the skyway was first built and it still has a pitiful system today. Stjr do you not get how transit works. It has to be a complete network, and right now our city has a crappy excuse for a transit network. However until we get commuter rail and streetcars. I see no problem in shutting down the Skyway. It just happens to be a system that needs access. Commuter rail will bring poeple from the outer reaches of our city, dump them off at the Prime, then they can hop on the Skyway to get further into the city. Streetcars could do the same, just not with as much speed.

Joe

June 01, 2010, 12:56:37 PM
Stjr, Almost everyone understands the pitfalls and failures of the Skyway. That's why the transit discussion has mostly moved toward streetcars and commuter rail.

If you so desperately want to see the Skyway demolished, you should become the biggest cheerleader in the world for the streetcar. Because the only way people are going to recognize the Skyway as a "sunk cost" is if there is a viable replacement system. Then people will be willing to eliminate the redundant system (that is, if the Skyway remains an underperformer once there are other rail linkages).

Captain Zissou

June 01, 2010, 01:06:17 PM
I was just asking a question in general, not necessarily to you, but I appreciate that you singled me out and tried to belittle me in your response.  

Believe me, I 'get it'.  I'm well aware that the skyway is losing money and has fallen embarrassingly short of its projected numbers.  I understand that very few people ride it.  I also know that it has many flaws and fails to connect many parts of downtown.  How do I know this? Because I ride it at least once a week.  

I also drive down beach, Atlantic, Baymeadows, and JTB.  These are all tools for getting citizens of Jacksonville from point A to point B.  In that regard, the skyway does a much better job than the other options.  It gets me from point A to point B with minimal interruptions, no traffic, and no frustration.  

Atlantic is constantly congested, has poorly run intersections every half mile, has required countless expansions and improvement, and will require repairs and additions until the end of time.  Just because Atlantic doesn't have the 'operating cost' you describe (which it really does), you think its a good investment.  

In my opinion, the skyway shows much more potential for improving the lives and livelihood of its surroundings than Atlantic or any of the other mentioned roads. The skyway could be a catalyst for growth in DT and the urban neighborhoods. Unfortunately, the skyway does not yet connect the surrounding residents to the destinations downtown.  Its like building a bridge halfway across the river and wondering why nobody uses it.  It is worth the added investment to allow the skyway to realize its full potential.

My response may not be up to your supreme level of intellect, but at least it allows the brainiacs like you to see how the feeble mind of a plebeian works.

stjr

June 01, 2010, 01:43:17 PM
I was just asking a question in general, not necessarily to you, but I appreciate that you singled me out and tried to belittle me in your response.  

Well, Captain, no offense was intended (although it appears you have returned the "favor" anyway), and, obviously, I am not nearly as smart (which I readily concede) as you give me credit for as I am unable to tell when you are speaking in general and when you are replying to my post (the only one that questioned the economic viability of the project which is what I thought you were talking about).  Next time, a clearer assist would be appreciated.  I do stand by my point which, to my clear frustration (as you sensed), seems lost on so many others here.  Maybe I should revert to calling this thing the $ky-high-way (just kidding, Bridge Toll  ;) )

Jim

June 01, 2010, 01:47:52 PM
Stjr, if the Skyway doesn't get more than 2,000 riders per day as it is with no connection to he residential neighborhoods...just how many people do you think are going to walk on the dang thing?

While NYC's High Line may have helped revitalized some of the areas, an elevated walkway in place of the Skyway will not have the same affect.

I get that you want the money bleed to stop but you're advocating a system that will greatly drop in utilization, remove a transit option for many, have minimal impact on the investment surrounding it and still require annual funding for upkeep and maintenance.

If it will cost $25 million to convert the Skyway system to an elevated walkway, why not spend that $25 million and extend the thing to a location that will have a massive improvement on ridership levels?

stjr

June 01, 2010, 01:48:46 PM
If you so desperately want to see the Skyway demolished, you should become the biggest cheerleader in the world for the streetcar. Because the only way people are going to recognize the Skyway as a "sunk cost" is if there is a viable replacement system. Then people will be willing to eliminate the redundant system (that is, if the Skyway remains an underperformer once there are other rail linkages).

Joe, thank you!  We are 100% on the same page.  I have made this point repeatedly in countless posts over countless threads on this subject right up until today.  Check out my posts.  I LOVE the streetcar.  Bring it on.

thelakelander

June 01, 2010, 02:14:45 PM
What Joe is implying is to leave the skyway in place and construct the streetcar system first.  Then if the skyway does not perform, then push for it's elimination.  You seem to be implying to demolish the skyway first and then construct the streetcar.

stjr

June 01, 2010, 02:15:11 PM
Stjr, if the Skyway doesn't get more than 2,000 riders per day as it is with no connection to he residential neighborhoods...just how many people do you think are going to walk on the dang thing?

While NYC's High Line may have helped revitalized some of the areas, an elevated walkway in place of the Skyway will not have the same affect.

I get that you want the money bleed to stop but you're advocating a system that will greatly drop in utilization, remove a transit option for many, have minimal impact on the investment surrounding it and still require annual funding for upkeep and maintenance.

If it will cost $25 million to convert the Skyway system to an elevated walkway, why not spend that $25 million and extend the thing to a location that will have a massive improvement on ridership levels?

Aaah, Jim, to your last comment.... the Skyway was supposed to get some 30,000/day with what ALREADY EXISTS, no further connections necessary.  And, its over 90% short of that!  Therein, is a major fallacy to the expansion argument.  We will just be chasing more rainbows with another expansion.

Jim, to the rest of your post, let's consider some sequencing here.  Ponder this:

1. Approve a proper streetcar plan that includes Downtown, Riverside, Springfield/Shands, LaVilla/Myrtle/Beaver Street, the Stadium area, and San Marco (let's not get into the river crossing right now - that's been hammered well on other threads).

2. Build the entire streetcar system in one continuous construction phase, starting with its core Downtown.

3. Promise taxpayers that as the streetcar system comes on line Downtown, the Skyway will be closed.

4. Once closed, we can determine alternate uses for the Skyway track/ROW.  Maybe property owners along its lines would have some creative "redevelopment" ideas on using it.  Such as a downtown jogging trail free of traffic?  An art festival walkway?  A kiosk lined shopping plaza?  A neat place to have a meal with a view?  Or, all of these and more.  [On the High Line, they are building a water feature and the chaise lounge chairs for sun bathing are already being used!]  Perhaps the Skyway stations that eat into existing city blocks (most of which are devoid presently of buildings) could be incorporated into new buildings on those blocks so that more inter-connective uses could be derived.

We need start taking what we have and making more of it - not necessarily with (just) money, but creativity and vision.  Other cites do it successfully, why not us?

stjr

June 01, 2010, 02:39:30 PM
What Joe is implying is to leave the skyway in place and construct the streetcar system first.  Then if the skyway does not perform, then push for it's elimination.  You seem to be implying to demolish the skyway first and then construct the streetcar.

Lake, just saw this after I posted my response to Jim.   Don't know that we ever discussed explicitly the order of things before, but, as you can see above, I am flexible.  I am looking mainly for the end result.

thelakelander

June 01, 2010, 02:55:52 PM
Well we're on the same page then. I also would rather see money invested in streetcars and commuter rail before considering extending the skyway. However, I believe that if this is properly done, you will see a significant increase in skyway ridership as a result.

Jim

June 01, 2010, 02:59:25 PM
Aaah, Jim, to your last comment.... the Skyway was supposed to get some 30,000/day with what ALREADY EXISTS, no further connections necessary.  And, its over 90% short of that!  Therein, is a major fallacy to the expansion argument.  We will just be chasing more rainbows with another expansion.
I'm under the impression that the 30k figure was attributed to full build out which includes expansion well beyond where it sits now.

No one would ever give a 30k figure for just the core when barely 2k people live there and around 30k work there.  

And then you point out a streetcar line that would traverse into the very neighborhoods that would make the Skyway successful but don't want to give the Skyway that option?  

Why not a Skyway system with valid extensions and stations with a street car feeder and complementary system fed overall with commuter rail?

thelakelander

June 01, 2010, 03:18:07 PM
The initial skyway ridership numbers assumed a ton of things that did not happen.  These include:

1. A route that connected destinations like Shands Jacksonville with DT.  Instead the route was modified to go from no where to no where.

2. That downtown would continue to grow and densify. The exact opposite happened.

3. That parking garages would not be continued to be constructed with nearly every major project in DT.  The exact opposite happened.  We love our garages.  Its 2010 and the Mayor's Office and JEDC still want to build more (see Landing parking issue).

4. That a regional wide rail system would feed it with riders.  Still waiting on that rail system.

After all of this, why expect different results?

Jim

June 01, 2010, 03:21:05 PM
I remember the initial advertisements for the JTA in Newsweek and other publications showing a 3 prong approach to mass transit with a big Skyway system, commuter rail and buses.

It was supposed to be a national model system but they only built half the Skyway and none of the commuter rail.

stjr

June 01, 2010, 03:23:40 PM
Aaah, Jim, to your last comment.... the Skyway was supposed to get some 30,000/day with what ALREADY EXISTS, no further connections necessary.  And, its over 90% short of that!  Therein, is a major fallacy to the expansion argument.  We will just be chasing more rainbows with another expansion.
I'm under the impression that the 30k figure was attributed to full build out which includes expansion well beyond where it sits now.

No one would ever give a 30k figure for just the core when barely 2k people live there and around 30k work there. 

Sorry, Jim, but the "experts" did just that and those numbers were the premise for building what you see now.  Worse, the Skyway fell short of its phase one numbers by similar percentages and they went on and built phase two anyway on the premise.... you guessed it.... that the phase two expansion would solve all the Skyway's shortfalls.  Of course, despite more assurances from the "experts", nothing changed.  Now, maybe you see better where I am coming from when talk again arises about still more expansion.  For what purpose?  Just to show, for the sake of someone's ego, that after 30 or 40 years and unlimited investment that maybe the Skyway can hit a significant portion of its original phase one and two projections?  Not in my book.

Quote
And then you point out a streetcar line that would traverse into the very neighborhoods that would make the Skyway successful but don't want to give the Skyway that option?   

Even Ock will tell you the Skyway really can't cross I-95 into Riverside and the residents there would never accept it running down their streets.  Also, the system isn't designed to run very long distances so going much beyond what I describe is unlikely no matter what.  If we are going to really do things right, I believe the streetcar is the far better solution - for cost, feasibility, acceptance, and, most importantly, ultimate usefulness.


Quote
Why not a Skyway system with valid extensions and stations with a street car feeder and complementary system fed overall with commuter rail?

Commuter rail can feed buses, streetcars, pedestrian, and bike modes.  I don't think we need nor can afford to run the Skyway as another parallel mode, as noted, too, by others.  Also, I think it is asking too much of users to transfer from one transit mode to a streetcar or commuter rail and then to the Skyway and then to something else again because the Skyway is so inflexible that it can't stop very close to most destinations.  

stjr

June 01, 2010, 03:27:57 PM
The initial skyway ridership numbers assumed a ton of things that did not happen.  These include:

1. A route that connected destinations like Shands Jacksonville with DT.  Instead the route was modified to go from no where to no where.

2. That downtown would continue to grow and densify. The exact opposite happened.

3. That parking garages would not be continued to be constructed with nearly every major project in DT.  The exact opposite happened.  We love our garages.  Its 2010 and the Mayor's Office and JEDC still want to build more (see Landing parking issue).

4. That a regional wide rail system would feed it with riders.  Still waiting on that rail system.

After all of this, why expect different results?

Lake, I don't recall these assumptions being "sold" to the public at the time.  It was sold as a "build it as it is now and they will come" project.  Maybe all those garages, lack of downtown growth and density, failures to get support for more destinations and connections, etc. are the result of the Skyway's disappointments and failures, not the cause of it.  At best, it's "chicken and egg" if there was ever even supposed to be both.

thelakelander

June 01, 2010, 03:48:06 PM
My guess is that the skyway had little to do with the city not being able to follow a coordinated DT vision over the last few decades or offices relocating to the Southside.  However, its ultimate success or failure is directly tied to issues like this.

CS Foltz

June 01, 2010, 04:57:15 PM
lake ......you do have a point! If the $kyway were one aspect of a coordinated approach to a Downtown revitilization, that would be one thing but in basically a standalone mode with limited acess from start to finish, it is doomed to failure plain and simple! That is $7 Million Dollars a year for what is really a limited type of transportation and the silly thing is on such odd hours and not 24/7 like it should be........oh well wasted effort! $$1.1 Billion Dollars spent on downtown over the last 20 years plus and we get what we deserve!

tufsu1

June 01, 2010, 05:11:09 PM
so is it better to scrap the system CS....or perhaps develop and implement a vision for downtown around it?

hillary supporter

June 01, 2010, 09:20:53 PM
Great discussion! stjr brings important points that bear merit. it seems the best immediate plan to pursue is development and implementation of the vision for downtown, as tufsu suggests.
The city seems so spread out that rapid fixed mass transit appears a challenging task. mass transit needs a strong residential presence to be successful , in our case. DC metro system works as mass commute corridors in an area of several million, not dependent on a residential population .  Jax population is not there,though foresight should  be used.
The most important and crucial step one concerned with mass transit ( and development of our metropolitan city) is the mayoral elections next year. Forgive me for repeating myself, our key to moving forward on this issue all of us consider dear is the democratic candidate, Glorious Johnson. Early participation in her campaign will achieve her support for jax mass transit.

Coolyfett

June 01, 2010, 11:07:09 PM
hmmmm

Ocklawaha

June 02, 2010, 12:46:44 AM
The initial skyway ridership numbers assumed a ton of things that did not happen.  These include:

1. A route that connected destinations like Shands Jacksonville with DT.  Instead the route was modified to go from no where to no where.

2. That downtown would continue to grow and densify. The exact opposite happened.

3. That parking garages would not be continued to be constructed with nearly every major project in DT.  The exact opposite happened.  We love our garages.  Its 2010 and the Mayor's Office and JEDC still want to build more (see Landing parking issue).

4. That a regional wide rail system would feed it with riders.  Still waiting on that rail system.

After all of this, why expect different results?

1. Actually Shand's, St. Vincent's, Baptist with a Memorial hospital option complete with special patient transfer and EMS monorail cars.

2. Remember during the Godbold Administration we were literally painting the streets downtown. The urban core became the centerpiece of dozens of events such as "World of Nations." Golf camp for kids down at Friendship Park was free and included a kid size iron or driver, and personal instruction on the range that was set up over the river by none other then the King and the Bear themselves! JTA and COJ captured the Jaguars and we had every reason to believe Jacksonville was about to shift into a Tier One City.  Overly oppmistic yes, but based on ether? NO.

3. Actually the garages would RING the downtown but not be used as infill. The Skyway would provide access from the second or third floor with each station housed WITHIN the structure. Immediately around the platforms would be essential services, c-store, gift shop, flowers, cleaner/tailor, snacks, fast food, lockers, game rooms, etc...  Driving downtown would be considered a thing of the past with some avenues limited to buses and Skyway.  Sidewalk cafe's and pedestrian friendly walkable spaces would spring up under the guideway. NOTHING OLD SCHOOL was going to interfere with the "vision" resulting in scraping 4 remaining streetcars and telling their most vocal supporter to LEAVE TOWN!

4. Regional Rail would probably be "Modern Futuristic Monorails."




Stjr, if the Skyway doesn't get more than 2,000 riders per day as it is with no connection to he residential neighborhoods...just how many people do you think are going to walk on the dang thing?

While NYC's High Line may have helped revitalized some of the areas, an elevated walkway in place of the Skyway will not have the same affect.

I get that you want the money bleed to stop but you're advocating a system that will greatly drop in utilization, remove a transit option for many, have minimal impact on the investment surrounding it and still require annual funding for upkeep and maintenance.

If it will cost $25 million to convert the Skyway system to an elevated walkway, why not spend that $25 million and extend the thing to a location that will have a massive improvement on ridership levels?


Exactly Jim! Not only will no one walk on it, I can see the lawyers having a field day with jumpers families, homeland security and talk about unsightly. Can't you just see it now, all landscaped with a 15 foot high chain-link net over the top running through the heart of downtown? Ooh Wow!

You are right that this wouldn't work for the Skyway nor for Jacksonville in general as it is believed a community should first discover the sidewalk, pedestrian signaling, curbs and safety islands before building a flying paseo across downtown.

Your $25 Million should get the Skyway down to Atlantic just west of the Florida East Coast Railway in San Marco, almost the exact site of the FEC Railway's "SOUTH JACKSONVILLE" train station.  Amtrak has already expressed an interest in sattelite stations in the Jacksonville MSA (Baldwin, Yukon, South Jacksonville) and any commuter rail system would have to serve SAN MARCO-SAINT NICHOLAS. A multi-modal interchange station at South Jacksonville, and another North of Shand's on the "S" line reconstruction and the Skyway would capture many of the inbound commuters as well as those headed for the hospitals and VA and public health clinics.



Aaah, Jim, to your last comment.... the Skyway was supposed to get some 30,000/day with what ALREADY EXISTS, no further connections necessary.  And, its over 90% short of that!  Therein, is a major fallacy to the expansion argument.  We will just be chasing more rainbows with another expansion.[/b]

Actually the figure was 56,000 a day, which was lowered to 32,000, and again to 18,000, then to 17,000, and recalculated to 10,000, and finally adjusted to 8,000! This was based on the original phase one segment AND THE PARKING GARAGES, WITH THE SKYWAY RUNNING SHUTTLES, EACH GARAGE WOULD HAVE HAD THE PERKS OUTLINED ABOVE. Expansion was NOT needed to achieve some of those numbers but the Garage "System" went either unbuilt, built in the wrong locations, and built without Skyway access or amenities.

Ponder this:

1. Approve a proper streetcar plan that includes Downtown, Riverside, Springfield/Shands via Main/8Th/Boulevard, LaVilla/Myrtle/Beaver Street, the Stadium area via a Duval/Beaver alignment, and San Marco via the MAIN STREET BRIDGE using ramps to and from Riverplace.  Streetcars are light enough that they CAN usually be placed on older bridges retrofitted with rails - the entire application being light and the cars weighing 1/2 ro 2/3Rd's of what a hybrid bus weighs.

2. Build the entire streetcar system in 6  block = 60 day construction phases, starting with its core Downtown.

3. Promise taxpayers that as the streetcar system comes on line Downtown, the Skyway will be adjusted to coordinate with the streetcars, trains, buses and BRT as one seamless system.

4. When the streetcars start rolling, the Skyway should pause to replace the Junction at LaVilla with something more operationally friendly.  Perhaps the Skyway stations that eat into existing city blocks (most of which are devoid presently of buildings) could be incorporated into new buildings on those blocks so that more inter-connective uses could be derived.  Floor space within the stations themselves should be developed and leased otherwise premiums could be placed on sidewalk space under the guideway.

We need start taking what we have and making more of it - not necessarily with (just) money, but creativity and vision.  Other cites do it successfully, why not us?
[/b]

Streetcars can be added to the north and south banks, but there isnt a way to connect them from the North and South banks, that is where the Skyway comes into play. The Skyway happens to be the only transit option across the river other then bus. Once a Streetcar line is integrated with the Skyway it will surely become more used.

Not quite Mattius, streetcars are light enough that the track structure doesn't have to be 2 or 3 feet deep, in fact some applications have placed streetcars in service with under 12" inches of pavement removal.  A retro-fitting on the Main Street Bridge should work, as would the Acosta, but it's elevations and speeds would cause me some reservation. Other then this, you are right on this issue as you continue to display a rare sense of transit knowledge. Keep up the good work!

I also drive down beach, Atlantic, Baymeadows, and JTB.  These are all tools for getting citizens of Jacksonville from point A to point B.  In that regard, the skyway does a much better job than the other options.  It gets me from point A to point B with minimal interruptions, no traffic, and no frustration. 


To be honest here Captain, Atlantic, Baymeadows and JTB, were not built to move the citizens of Jacksonville anywhere nor do they.  The roadway system moves AUTOMOBILES from point A to point B, the SKYWAY and other mass transit modes move people with the refinements in travel that you so adeptly outlined.
 

OCKLAWAHA

Ocklawaha

June 02, 2010, 10:13:39 AM
As for the assertion that the Skyway is "Complete as built" this is completely false. From 1974 through the start of construction the Skyway people commissioned 14 different routes for study. NONE of the recommended routes were ever built and while the planners assumed a 90 degree turn East at the foot of Hogan street on the majority of the plans none of the projections foresaw JTA turning West at the same intersection to an empty railroad station.  Likewise the second phase, conversion to monorail and Southbank extension should never have been touted as the all in all answer as the little system still runs back and forth in the bottom of a barrel. 

The most modest thinkers should be able to understand that a parking shuttle that never leaves a parking lot is pretty useless. In the case of the Skyway, we looped through the "parking lot" and then added another phase to loop through MORE of the "parking lot". Whenever expansion is mentioned as a means to lift the system into useability a thousand howls go up stating that we haven't met our ridership projections and through some logic the system has failed us. So here we stand, car keys in hand, waiting for a Skyway to carry us to the promised land when all we have done is lay some track around the CBD. Until the day that we can park those cars, and ride the Skyway to a recognizable place or destination it will continue to be as useful as tit's on a bull.



OCKLAWAHA

Mattius92

June 02, 2010, 12:15:50 PM
Quote
Until the day that we can park those cars, and ride the Skyway to a recognizable place or destination it will continue to be as useful as tit's on a bull.

haha, and that is true. The anti-skyway poeple need to understand that the Skyway was never built like it needed to be built so therefore it has been pretty useless. If JTA and the COJ actually start building a transit system like we need things will be so much better.

thelakelander

June 02, 2010, 12:25:46 PM
It makes no sense to fight 20 miles of traffic to then park in a garage to go the last 1/2 mile on the skyway.  If we can get commuter rail and streetcars off the ground and integrated with the skyway, we can have the option to leave our cars right in our driveways and garages.

stjr

June 02, 2010, 01:13:01 PM
As for the assertion that the Skyway is "Complete as built" this is completely false.

System complete.  JTA OFFICIAL EXPLANATION, 2002:  Failure of Skyway due to "economic recessions".   Not ONE word about need for further expansion or plans for same to make it achieve any goals. Federal officials say it was built for "political" reasons, not "transportation" reasons.

How quickly some people forget.  Plain and simple, a pork barrel project that typifies wasteful government spending.  Fool me once, shame on you.  Fool me twice, shame on me!

Read it for yourselves at ABC World News, 2002:


Quote
$200 Million Ride to Nowhere
Almost No One Is Riding $200 Million Skyway
By Charles Herman

J A C K S O N V I L L E, Fla., July 29

The 2.5-mile Jacksonville Automated Skyway Express is a model of efficiency. Completely automated and controlled from a central operation center, the Skyway makes eight stops throughout the northeastern Florida city that is split in two by the St. John's River.

The only problem: hardly anyone rides it.

"It's strictly a waste of money from beginning to end," decried longtime Jacksonville critic Marvin Edwards. He blames the builder and supporter of the Skyway, the Jacksonville Transportation Authority (JTA).

"They lied about ridership projections," explained Edwards. "They said 56,000 a day at first, then dropped that to 30,000, then last it was 18,000 to 19,000."

Currently, the Skyway sees 3,000 riders per day who pay 35 cents a trip. In fiscal 2001, the Skyway brought in $513,694 in revenue but its expenses were $3.5 million.

Fights for Funding

The Skyway was first proposed back in 1971. It took more than a decade before the funding  federal, state and local  could be secured to start construction. At the time, the goal was mainly for development so the Skyway to connect the downtown core with parking facilities away from downtown.

The Jacksonville Skyway was part of three demonstration projects to see if "people-mover" systems could stimulate business expansion in downtown centers. Detroit and Miami received federal funds for similar projects.

Some officials within the Department of Transportation's Federal Transit Authority questioned the ridership projections for the Jacksonville Skyway.

In an interview with ABCNEWS' John Martin in 1994, Federal Transit Administration official Gordon Linton said, "We and this department, this administration and previous administrations, have not supported it."


Nevertheless, Congress eventually provided more than half the funds for the $182 million Skyway.

In 1987 construction began on the first 0.7-mile portion of the system.

"It was mainly for political reasons, not transportation reasons," explained former Rep. Bob Carr, who chaired the committee that approved funding for transportation projects in the early 1990s. "Like so many projects, they get a camel's nose under the tent and then it gets very very difficult to stop them."


Few Riders From the Start

In 1989 the first section was completed and opened to the public. Jacksonsville's transit leaders projected more than 10,000 people would ride the Skyway a day on this 0.7-mile starter section.

Instead, only 1,200 rode the Skyway.


In 1993 Transit Authority member Miles Francis defended the system to ABCNEWS. "Until this thing is finished, there's no way to measure its performance or its potential."

Now it's finished and the Jacksonville Transit Authority is still waiting for the riders to come.


Open for Business

In November 2000, the complete Skyway opened to the public.
Nearly two years later, with ridership at an average of 3,000 a day, the Skyway has not met even the projections for the starter section.

"No one will argue with the fact that ridership is not where we would like it to be," admitted Steve Arrington, director of engineering with the Jacksonville Transit Authority. He says the lack of riders is attributed to economic recessions in downtown Jacksonville in the early 1990s that led to a decrease in development in the area.

"Any number of things predicted to occur that didn't occur development-wise has an effect," he added. "Fuel prices, parking prices."

Arrington still believes in the Skyway and expects to reach its ridership goals. "You don't build a system like this or a roadway for the next four years," said Arrington. "You try to built it for the next 20 to 30 years."

Riding an empty car from one station to another, critic Edwards disagreed. "This really is a public rip-off and a total waste of money that could have gone for something not quite as fancy, but a lot more practical."

ABCNEWS' Jeffrey Kofman contributed to this story.

http://abcnews.go.com/WNT/story?id=130201&page=1

tufsu1

June 02, 2010, 01:17:46 PM
it appears to me the article's author deemed the system "complete"....I don't see where JTA said this....plus, when was the last time anyone took what JTA said or what a reporter wrote as gospel?

thelakelander

June 02, 2010, 01:19:13 PM
Personally, after spending a considerable amount of time in the Library's Special Collections Department, I'd say the ABC article is off.  All of those old skyway studies (going all the way back to the early 1970s) that Ock mentions are in that section and available to the public to view.  If we're going to talk about original projections, as off as they are, we still should put them in their proper place.

Jim

June 02, 2010, 01:23:47 PM
I'm getting the impression that they don't know what full completion is or they're just referring to current construction being complete.

"Complete" is much more than the what is open right now.

stjr

June 02, 2010, 01:28:11 PM
it appears to me the article's author deemed the system "complete"....I don't see where JTA said this....plus, when was the last time anyone took what JTA said or what a reporter wrote as gospel?

JTA provided the reporter with official info.  Regardless, JTA went on record saying the failure was due to recessions and never said there was more to this project.  JTA only oversaw design, construction, and operation of the Skyway. Why should anyone think they would know why it failed their own projections better than them?

"when was the last time anyone took what JTA said or what a reporter wrote as gospel?"

When I questioned JTA's bill of goods sold to the City Council on bus shelters, where were you, Tufsu?  Looks like you have the unique self-proclaimed ability to be a JTA "truth meter"  :D

stjr

June 02, 2010, 01:30:04 PM
"Complete" is much more than the what is open right now.

"Complete" was up to 56,000 riders a day's worth.  And, we currently have 1,700.

Mattius92

June 02, 2010, 01:47:07 PM
STJR you dont get the point, we ALL know that there is only 1,700 daily ridership. Hell I am actually surprised that there is that many, I would say there is more like 100 daily ridership.

THE SYSTEM GOES NOWHERE! Yes NOWHERE, why would poeple want to ride something that goes NOWHERE. Ok lets abandon the thing, now give me a perfectly good way to provide mass transit in DT Jax that is as efficient as an monorail that actually works. On top of that it is going to have to connect the North and South Banks. Without a connection its like two independent parts of downtown.

Streetcars are not as fast or efficient as a monorail system. However they are better then nothing, because currently all our city has for mass transit is. Bus and that wonderful Skyway system that no-one uses. We could abandon the Skyway like you want, and build a streetcar system, OR we could build onto our EXISTING infastructure.

Remember the discussion on SR 9B and everyone say hey lets build onto our EXISTING infrastructure as opposed to building an entirely new highway. Guess what, if they spent $300 on 9A as opposed to building 9B then things would probably be just as good and without extra sprawl. (And yes this is off-topic)

Now lets say we spend $300 million on streetcar, well we could get a pretty good system, yet we already have an state of an art skyway system that with lets say $150 million could be actually useful. Paired together they would be like peas in a pod.


MB

thelakelander

June 02, 2010, 02:53:08 PM
"Complete" is much more than the what is open right now.

"Complete" was up to 56,000 riders a day's worth.  And, we currently have 1,700.


Edwards is the guy who mentioned 56,000 riders/day in the ABC article.  However, this 2002 article does not specify what the preferred alignment was at the time this or any other number was quoted.  I'm sure if you're willing to do a little research by visiting the main library's special collections department, you'll find a completely different animal on the books than what exists today.

tufsu1

June 02, 2010, 03:34:03 PM
When I questioned JTA's bill of goods sold to the City Council on bus shelters, where were you, Tufsu?  Looks like you have the unique self-proclaimed ability to be a JTA "truth meter"  :D[/b]

Here's the difference....while I don't blindly trust what JTA says, I also don't automatically discount something just because they said it.

fsujax

June 02, 2010, 03:42:22 PM
56,000 riders a day was with an estimation over 100,000 people working Downtonwn! and a thriving convention center with the Jefferson St station built directly connected to a convention center hotel. Quit overlooking all the facts in the case. There is much more of a story to be told here. The JTA was sold a bill of goods by the City promising all of this great growth Downtown, when just the opposite has happend.  Yes, blame can be passed around to everyone ever involved with the Skyway. Fact of the matter is, it doesnt connect people to neighborhoods and we have no covention center to speak of, much less a hotel and less than half of the estimated 100,000 employees projected for the urban core. Yes, tear it down and pay the FTA back over $140 million.

stjr

June 02, 2010, 03:59:25 PM
I say the JTA and City knew what they were doing:  Grabbing "free" Federal money.  Nothing else really mattered.

CS Foltz

June 02, 2010, 04:46:48 PM
stjr.....I concur!! They both know what they were doing and wanted some of that so-called FREE money from the Feds! It's too bad we can't get free money from the Feds to run the damn thing! $7 Million Dollars a year to operate something that really does not go where it needs to go and with an average of 1,700 per day, I would question that there that many a day riders anyway! Either get more Fed money and expand or extend and if that is not an option.............pull its plug and be done with it!

Ocklawaha

June 02, 2010, 04:51:52 PM
Thank you boys and girls to those who actually have spent the time and done the research in the archives at the library.  Right now, even if JTA, FDOT or the FTA stated the "system is complete", it would be a baldfaced lie. They all know what those drawings indicated and as FSUJAX, TUFSU1 or Lakelander pointed out no amount of talk will change the black and white.  Don't pee on our legs and tell us it's raining!

Quote
Streetcars are not as fast or efficient as a monorail system. However they are better then nothing, because currently all our city has for mass transit is. Bus and that wonderful Skyway system that no-one uses. We could abandon the Skyway like you want, and build a streetcar system, OR we could build onto our EXISTING infastructure.

Part of the reason we don't have the streetcar system today is that JCCI and a citizen panel all believed the highway lobby's "streetcar facts".

Fact:

There is a difference in speed between the modes, old school streetcars have operated much faster then the typical monorail. Today they are both held to about the same speeds with regulations on streetcar speed and galloping tendency's on monorails serving as a governor.  Monorails do have an advantage of being above traffic, but depending on what you want to spend, streetcars can operate the same way. Streetcars are more efficient then monorails in their cost economy, and can be near equal's in trip economics.  Far from "better then nothing" streetcars are the NUMBER ONE producer of transit oriented development resulting in economic resurgence.
 

OCKLAWAHA

tufsu1

June 02, 2010, 05:02:51 PM
stjr.....I concur!! They both know what they were doing and wanted some of that so-called FREE money from the Feds! It's too bad we can't get free money from the Feds to run the damn thing! $7 Million Dollars a year to operate something that really does not go where it needs to go and with an average of 1,700 per day, I would question that there that many a day riders anyway! Either get more Fed money and expand or extend and if that is not an option.............pull its plug and be done with it!

actually the Feds provide "free money" to almost every transit system for operations....sorry, try again!

stjr

June 02, 2010, 05:04:29 PM
Fact:

There is a difference in speed between the modes, old school streetcars have operated much faster then the typical monorail. Today they are both held to about the same speeds with regulations on streetcar speed and galloping tendency's on monorails serving as a governor.  Monorails do have an advantage of being above traffic, but depending on what you want to spend, streetcars can operate the same way. Streetcars are more efficient then monorails in their cost economy, and can be near equal's in trip economics.  Far from "better then nothing" streetcars are the NUMBER ONE producer of transit oriented development resulting in economic resurgence. [/b]  

Ock, I like it.  SOLD!  Let's get streetcars!  (I won't state the rejoinder, I think you can read my mine on that.)

stjr

June 02, 2010, 06:31:28 PM
Thank you boys and girls to those who actually have spent the time and done the research in the archives at the library.

Ock, did a little "library" style research as you suggested.

Here is another article.  Again, it says the system has attained "full completion" (and uses a 37,000 rider/day projection for it) and there is NO reference by JTA or City officials to any plan or need to expand the system.  Just what I said the public has been sold from the beginning.  And, all those hopes of things getting better.... remain hopes today just as they were some 30 years ago when this thing was hatched.  Note the rising and relative costs of operations and the 86% taxpayer subsidy and the Kings Road being built specifically (at $12 million) to support the Skyway (another failure and waste to prop the system up).


Florida Times Union, October 20, 2002, 8 Years Ago:

Quote
Skyway costs mount, but riders still won't
By David Bauerlein
Times-Union staff writer,

The Skyway glides sleekly through downtown Jacksonville like a vision of the future -- a $184 million network of computerized trains that run on high-voltage, elevated tracks.

The Trolley rolls through downtown in a nostalgic nod to the past -- the Trolley is a bus, but it's dressed up to resemble the streetcars that traversed Jacksonville a century ago.

In today's downtown, the Trolley's "back to the future" approach is taking the lead.


The Jacksonville Transportation Authority opened the 2.5-mile Skyway in sections from 1989 to November 2000, forging ahead in the face of mounting criticism about the cost of building and running the system. The full completion of the Skyway has boosted ridership somewhat in the past two years.

But the multimillion-dollar annual cost of operating the Skyway has risen at an even faster rate, draining money the JTA could otherwise spend on enhancing bus service.


The upstart Trolley also rolled out in 2000, gaining favor from city leaders because they can change the Trolley route if needed and it's far cheaper to run. The operating expense for a Trolley bus is about $60 an hour, whereas the cost of a Skyway vehicle is $163 an hour.

JTA Executive Director Michael Blaylock said he remains confident the Skyway will turn the corner. He said within five years, he thinks ticket fares and parking fees will cover the operating costs, eliminating taxpayer subsidies.

"The Skyway is simply ahead of its time -- no bones about it," Blaylock said. "Downtown is going to develop. There's no question in my mind of that. The more downtown develops, the more attractive the Skyway becomes because it's part of the parking solution."

Skyway cars travel along high-voltage, elevated tracks throughout downtown Jacksonville. Currently, about 2,300 passengers a day ride the Skyway, far fewer than the 37,000 a day that JTA officials predicted when they were designing the system.[/color]

....The JTA has no intention of pulling the plug. But in the next few years, City Hall will move forward with a plan to build garages containing thousands of new spaces in downtown's core. In the past, downtown workers have preferred those close-in garages, weakening the appeal of the park-and-ride lots for the Skyway and Trolley.

The concept of park-and-ride from downtown's edge "is not working at all," said Clerk of Courts Jim Fuller, who studied downtown transportation issues when he served in the state Legislature. "If you want to do that, the only way to accomplish it is to have no parking garages in the downtown. We're building more garages."

The JTA's biggest attempt to drum up Skyway ridership was the construction of the $12 million Kings Avenue parking garage, which was built at the same time the JTA finished the last piece of the Skyway on downtown's Southbank.

Two years later, the Kings Avenue garage has shed some of its ghostly image, but remains mostly empty. The JTA has leased 17 percent of the 1,921 spaces.

http://jacksonville.com/tu-online/stories/102002/met_10741073.shtml


...It's a growing cost:

In the 2001 fiscal year, the JTA's operating expense for the Skyway was more than $3.2 million. For each passenger, the JTA spent $4.59.

In the 2002 fiscal year, the JTA is on track to spend almost $3.7 million on the Skyway. The cost per passenger has increased to $5. In comparison, Miami-Dade Transit spends $3.37 per passenger for its Metromover, which is the same kind of service as the Skyway.

The JTA's budget for the current 2003 fiscal year earmarks $4.5 million for the Skyway's operation. The JTA has spent several hundred thousand dollars less than budgeted for the Skyway in past years, but the budget increase shows JTA officials expect the Skyway's cost to keep climbing.

Taxpayers subsidize 86 percent of the Skyway's operating cost. Blaylock wants to wipe out that cost to taxpayers, but it would require a quantum jump in ticket sales and parking fees.

The JTA is trying to market the Skyway to federal workers who might qualify for a federal program that pays their transit costs. Blaylock said he wants to see if any companies are interested in sponsoring Skyway stations, which would enable the companies to get their name on the station.

In the long run, other possibilities -- currently unfunded -- include building enclosed walkways from Skyway stations to neighboring buildings, and constructing more parking garages on the Skyway line.

The Downtown Development Authority has set a Dec. 11 deadline for developers to submit proposals for how they would finance, build and operate three parking garages with at least 2,600 spaces on city-owned land at the site of the new country courthouse.

Al Battle, director of the DDA, said the garage would expand parking choices downtown, but he said the Skyway and the Trolley park-and-ride spots would still have lower parking rates, making them a money-saving option.

The DDA also is seeking proposals from developers for a 550-space garage next to the new arena at the sports complex, and a 950-space garage next to the Trolley's park-and-ride lot in the sports complex. Battle said those garages could double as additional park-and-ride sites for the Trolley.

But the current Trolley park-and-ride lot is half-empty, and most of those who use it head to the county courthouse. It's not clear whether those workers would switch to the new courthouse garage when it's built. Fuller, whose Clerk of the Court office leases 125 spaces at the Trolley lot, said he's not sure if he'd keep that arrangement.

...Despite such uncertainty, City Councilman Lake Ray said he expects ridership on the Trolley will increase as people get more used to its schedule and route, which was expanded in July to run throughout downtown's Northbank.

Ray, who has been one of the council's toughest questioners regarding transit, said the Trolley is far more efficient than the Skyway. He said he's not sure the Skyway "will ever make financial sense," but he said the Skyway and the Kings Avenue garage deserve more time to prove themselves.

"We've got a big investment in it," he said. "Let's don't throw the baby out with the bathwater."

stjr

June 02, 2010, 06:47:05 PM
More "library" research, and more references to "final part", "last leg," and "completion".  This has one mention of a "previously considered" expansion to Alltel Stadium, but nothing more serious than that.  And, it was addressed by using the more "less costly and more adaptable" Trolley at that.

From 10 years ago, more promises, hopes and dreams unfulfilled today:


Quote
Published Friday, October 27, 2000

Final part of Skyway to open Wednesday

By David Bauerlein
Times-Union staff writer,

Twenty-seven years after city leaders first hatched the idea of the Skyway, the Jacksonville Transportation Authority next week will open the last leg of the 2.5-mile monorail through downtown.

Built for $184 million, the Skyway has fallen far short of ridership predictions. The JTA once estimated that 38,000 people would board the Skyway daily after the whole system is open. Currently, the Skyway provides about 2,300 rides a day.

But with completion of the route, the JTA also will open a large parking garage on the Southbank, hoping to entice commuters to park there and ride the Skyway to downtown jobs. An elevated walkway will link the $12 million garage, located on Kings Avenue, to a nearby Skyway station.


JTA officials say it takes several years to evaluate whether transportation projects justify their costs, so it's too soon to judge the Skyway.

"You've got to look ahead because you don't serve tomorrow's needs by looking back," said Steve Arrington, director of engineering for the JTA.

...Using the Skyway to connect downtown's core with outlying parking facilities has been part of the plan since the Skyway first took root in 1973, when the Florida Department of Transportation said the idea deserved consideration.

In 1976, Jacksonville City Hall formed a task force, and two years later the federal government, reacting to escalating gasoline prices, decided to test the so-called "people-mover" technology by choosing three cities for demonstration projects -- Jacksonville, Miami and Detroit.

The demonstration projects were aimed at determining whether building the fully automated systems, which are run by computers with no driver on board, would stimulate downtown development and cost less than running bus service throughout downtown.

Like Jacksonville, Miami and Detroit have found ridership lacking:

Miami's Metromover averages 13,700 daily boardings. The Miami-Dade Transit Agency opened a 1.9-mile section in 1986 and then added 2.5 miles of track in 1994. The total cost for the 4.4-mile system, which connects with the Metrorail light rail line, is $381 million.

Detroit's People Mover opened in 1987 at a cost of $200 million. It averaged 8,000 riders a day before the demolition of a building damaged the system in 1998 and prevented full use of it.

The JTA has taken years longer to complete the Skyway. Indeed, it almost didn't get built at all. After putting Jacksonville on the list in the 1970s, federal transit officials in the early 1980s raised numerous questions about the project, calling the ridership projections "speculative" and based on downtown projects that might not occur.

Congress overrode the objections and funded the Skyway, but it has been built in four phases. The federal government has paid 54 percent of the $184 million cost; 22 percent came from the state Department of Transportation; 13 percent from the JTA; and 11 percent from City Hall.

"We never dreamed that we would need this long to complete the system," said JTA board member Charles Sawyer, who lobbied hard for congressional support when he served as the board's president.

Sawyer said if the Skyway had fully opened in the 1980s, as Miami and Detroit's systems did, the construction of downtown parking facilities would have been tied to the Skyway, rather than adding to the parking garages in the downtown core.

"We were developing a project over a long period of time in relatively small pieces," Arrington said. "The problem for the public and the business community is they say, 'Yeah, I see you have the first phase of it under construction, but where's the rest of it that's going to affect me.' "

The passage of time also eroded political support. In the 1995 mayoral election, John Delaney called the Skyway a "turkey" and a "disaster" when he won election in a race with former mayor Jake Godbold, who had been one of the Skyway's most ardent supporters.

"We've spent $200 million on it [the Skyway] already and it has not proven itself to be worth even one-tenth of that money," said John Draper, a former city councilman and president of Concerned Taxpayers of Duval County.

That kind of skepticism has frozen plans to enlarge the Skyway. The JTA previously considered adding a 2.2-mile line to Alltel Stadium, but instead joined City Hall in starting The Trolley. That service, which began in March, uses buses that look like streetcars to ferry people between downtown and the stadium's parking lots. Officials say The Trolley is much less costly and more adaptable because they can change the route to match downtown's evolving development.

The newest segment of the Skyway will run through a Southbank area that includes a handful of hotels, but it won't have any "significant impact" on Jacksonville's ability to land convention business, said Kitty Ratcliffe, president of the Jacksonville & the Beaches Convention & Visitors Bureau.

Even though the Skyway runs to the Prime Osborn Convention Center, the Skyway's stations are too far from the hotels, Ratcliffe said.

"The Skyway was not designed for convention attendees," she said. ". . . It was designed for local commuter use."

To attract those commuters, the JTA is offering monthly parking rates that are half what garages charge in the center of downtown.

In the morning and afternoon rush hours, Skyway cars pull into stations every four minutes. JTA officials say the Skyway has proven to be safe and reliable. There have been no crashes or injuries.

"The system has gotten the city a lot of attention in terms of transit," said Chuck Pineda, the JTA engineer who has been the Skyway's project manager. "This is a very technically complex system, and Jacksonville should be proud of this system."

But it remains to be seen whether downtown commuters will make it part of their everyday lives. For the current fiscal year, the JTA has budgeted $3.5 million to operate the Skyway. Fares and parking fees will shoulder 11 percent of the cost, according to the JTA's budget. Taxpayers will foot the rest of the bill.

"We've got the river in the middle of the city, and the Skyway is going to make it one downtown," Sawyer said. "I think that people have got to learn how to use it and ridership will gradually increase."

http://jacksonville.com/tu-online/stories/102700/met_4450032.html


Mattius92

June 02, 2010, 06:52:42 PM
Quote
...Despite such uncertainty, City Councilman Lake Ray said he expects ridership on the Trolley will increase as people get more used to its schedule and route, which was expanded in July to run throughout downtown's Northbank.

Ray, who has been one of the council's toughest questioners regarding transit, said the Trolley is far more efficient than the Skyway. He said he's not sure the Skyway "will ever make financial sense," but he said the Skyway and the Kings Avenue garage deserve more time to prove themselves.

Lake Ray received a B.S. in Civil Engineering and was the president of Harbor Engineering Company, he served on the Jacksonville city council from 1999 to 2007 when he was elected to the Florida House of Representatives. He was a council member that knew a good amount on transit and engineering, yet he says that the trolley was better. Just imagine if he had streetcars.

stjr

June 02, 2010, 06:54:32 PM
Here is an editorial from 11 years ago.  Note its conclusion to shut it down, as Tampa did, given the only prediction about the Skyway that has come true: the "folly trolley".

Quote
Published Monday, September 27, 1999

MASS TRANSIT: Make use of Skyway

By The Times-Union

About 1,000 people ride the Skyway Express each day. That equates to 1,000 cars that are not clogging the center of the business district.

Skyway critics, of which there are many, will reflexively note that the projections were for 10,000 trips a day, which is 5,000 riders, or five times as many as there are.

However, the 1970s projections were based on optimistic forecasts of business at the convention center, the assumption of two new hotels along the route and other factors.
[/color]

Also, the Skyway planners foresaw considerable expansion of the business district. There was talk of 100,000 workers downtown by 2000. Instead, other areas such as the Southpoint business district captured much of the growth and there are probably no more than 55,000 workers downtown.

So, the issue is not what might have been, but how the system can be made to work best and achieve as many of the goals as possible.

From the taxpayers' viewpoint, the worst is over. The $180 million capital cost is done. Unlike most bus operations, in which operating cost is higher than the capital cost, the operating cost of the Skyway is relatively small.

One thing that will make it difficult to be successful is the fragmented approach to parking.

In public parking, the city government, Jacksonville Transportation Authority and Downtown Development Authority all play a role.

Subsidized public parking in the center of town will make it tough for the Skyway to compete.

However, if commuters had a choice between market rates in the center of town and the Skyway's $30 park and ride alternative, the Skyway probably would get its share of business.

The debate over building the skyway is over. It will be completed within a year. What remains now is to make it useful, or shut it down, as Tampa did. Tampa's tiny line went from Harbour Island to a parking lot a few blocks away, far from the center of downtown, and served little purpose.

One thing is certain: Without some reasonably coordinated attempt to recoup its costs, the Skyway Express really will be a ''folly trolley,'' after nearly 30 years of effort.

http://jacksonville.com/tu-online/stories/092799/opi_Monedit2.html

thelakelander

June 02, 2010, 06:55:08 PM
Let us know when you read the actual archived skyway documents in the Special Collections Department (4th floor of the main library, check in and ask to go behind the information counter) and not random newspaper articles that were written 25 years later.  I promise your eyes will be opened to a new wealth of information regarding the Skyway system.

thelakelander

June 02, 2010, 06:57:25 PM
Regarding Tampa's, it was a short peoplemover than went from a parking garage to a failed Landing-style marketplace across the Garrison Channel.  Does anyone know if it was built with private or federal funds?  If built with federal dollars, did they have to pay the feds back after demolition?

stjr

June 02, 2010, 06:59:59 PM
More from Ock's library search suggestion:

 
Quote
Published Friday, February 5, 1999

JTA still 7,700 riders short on Skyway promise


By The Times-Union

You just wait, baby, until the ol' Skyway crosses the river from downtown to the Southbank.

People will flock to it then, baby, and it will be the Riderless Express no more.

Remember that argument?

Well, let's check and see what's happening now that the Skyway leg across the Acosta Bridge has been up and running for a while.


According to the Jacksonville Transportation Authority, the average weekday ridership on the Skyway in the months before the new extension was open was about 1,200.

Keep in mind that those are one-way trips, so the actual number of people using the Skyway could have been as few as 600.

When the extension across the river began operating, the JTA made the Skyway a freebie for the month of November, hoping to attract more people to the entire system.

The result was the average weekday ridership for November climbed to 3,677.

The JTA started charging again in December, and the ridership fell to 2,150. For the month just ended, January, the average weekday ridership stood at 2,300.

One could surmise from the figures that the riverfront crossing has added about 1,000 one-way trips each weekday, benefiting perhaps as few as 500 people.

Even though the original projections for just the first leg of the Skyway was 10,000 riders a day, the JTA describes the jump to 2,300 as ''dramatic.''

Hey, after all, the ridership has almost doubled. But, then again, doubling nothing isn't that hard to do.

Let's see: The cost of the system, under construction since 1987, is about $200 million. Perhaps as few as 1,000 people are riding it each day. Hmmmm, that seems a tad expensive, doesn't it?

I bring this up because - besides the fact I like poking fun at the Skyway - another downtown transportation system is on the drawing boards.

The JTA is planning a tramlike shuttle service between the Northbank's business districts and parking lots west of Alltel Stadium.

The shuttles would look like trolley cars and would run every five minutes during peak hours and every 10 minutes the rest of the time on weekdays from 6:30 a.m. to 7 p.m.

This is a system that could expand or contract to meet needs. In other words, it's flexible, which the Skyway is not.

The trams are expected to cost about $1 million and operating expenses are projected at about $300,000 a year.

That, my friends, is just a wee bit less than the Skyway's staggering price tag.

Oh, well, the Skyway, sadly, is ours, and there's not much good that comes with crying over spilled milk.

Let's just make sure we don't spill the milk again.

The trams should be the system of the future, not more of the Skyway.

stephendare

June 02, 2010, 07:01:33 PM
seriously, STJR?

You are going to quote the critics of the program whose outright sabotage is the reason it didnt work in the first place?

thelakelander

June 02, 2010, 07:10:47 PM
Regarding Tampa's, it was a short peoplemover than went from a parking garage to a failed Landing-style marketplace across the Garrison Channel.  Does anyone know if it was built with private or federal funds?  If built with federal dollars, did they have to pay the feds back after demolition?

Nevermind, I may have found the answer to my own question.  It was privately owned.

Quote
The Harbour Island People Mover was an automated guideway transit people mover service used to carry visitors between Downtown Tampa and Harbour Island across the Garrison Channel in Tampa, Florida, United States. Privately owned but operated by the Hillsborough Area Regional Transit Authority (HART), service commenced on June 27, 1985. Due to low ridership and operating losses, the service was discontinued on January 16, 1999. The money given to the city for the closure of the system in a settlement with ownership served as the foundation of an endowment to cover the operating expenses of the TECO Line Streetcar System.

Description

Developed by the Beneficial Corporation and utilizing Otis Transportation Systems, the people mover was completed at a cost of $7 million. The 2,500-foot (760 m) concrete guideway was elevated and spanned the Garrison Channel. Operating between 7:00 a.m. and 2:00 a.m, the Harbour Island People Mover made approximately 620 trips per day with a maximum capacity of 100 passengers per trip.[1] The system ran in a north–south direction between the downtown station located on the third level of the Old Fort Brooke parking garage and its southern terminus at the Shops of Harbour Island on Harbour Island.[1]

History

Ground was broken for the project on September 20, 1983, as a part of the greater Harbour Island redevelopment.[2] When the Harbour Island People Mover opened for service on June 27, 1985, it marked the return of rail transit to Tampa since the closure of its streetcar network in 1946.[3][4] Costing $7 million to complete, former President Gerald Ford took part in the inaugural ride.[4] Although it opened to much fanfare, ridership of the system remained relatively low.[1] By 1989, ridership averaged 1,200 riders on a weekday and 1,500 on the weekend or for an average of about 2 riders per trip.[1] The low ridership was attributed to the perceived difficulty in accessing the downtown station and the addition of a lunch-time shuttle bus service between downtown and Harbour Island by January 1989.[1]

By 1995, the Hillsborough County Metropolitan Planning Organization approved funding to initiate the preliminary engineering for the construction of a third station at the Tampa Convention Center.[5] With the system losing approximately $1 million between 1994–95 due to increasing operating costs and dwindling ridership due to the closure of the Shops of Harbour Island, Beneficial Corporation sought to sell the system to HART for only $1.[6] However, since the system was losing substantial amounts of money, HART declined to purchase the it from Beneficial.[6] By July, Beneficial announced the people mover may cease operations if the convention center station was not completed along the line.[7]

With the prospects of a convention center station stalling, by 1998 Beneficial was looking to shut down the people mover.[8] As a result of a contract with HART calling for the agency to be in charge of operating the system for thirty years, negotiations had to be undertaken with the city to dissolve the contract since it was good through 2015.[8] By May 1998, an agreement was reached calling for the dismantling of the people mover system and for Beneficial to pay the city $5 million to dissolve the contract.[9] Harbour Island would then be served by trolleybuses and the majority of the settlement money would go to an endowment to be used in the operating costs of the subsequently built TECO Line Streetcar System.[9][10] The line ceased operations on January 16, 1999.[4] After determining the Garrison Channel bridge was unsuitable for use as a pedestrian crossing,[4] demolition began in November 1999 and was completed by February 2000.[11]

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Harbour_Island_People_Mover

stjr

June 02, 2010, 07:20:22 PM
Let us know when you read the actual archived skyway documents in the Special Collections Department (4th floor of the main library, check in and ask to go behind the information counter) and not random newspaper articles that were written 25 years later.  I promise your eyes will be opened to a new wealth of information regarding the Skyway system.

seriously, STJR?

You are going to quote the critics of the program whose outright sabotage is the reason it didn't work in the first place?

Lake,  I am reflecting what the taxpaying public has been told and sold.  I have backed it up numerous times with figures, quotes, articles, etc., much of it from JTA, City, and Federal sources on the record.  And, these officials, seriously, Stephen, are not quotes from critics, but supporters and those who saw to the Skyway's construction and operation.  So, where is your beef coming from?

Why is it that every time I step up to the new and ever rising bar you guys request, the bar is moved still higher?  Why don't you go to the library and produce those documents you think support your case?  And, while your are it, reconcile them with what the public was presented with.

For such well informed people, I am really surprised how myopic you seem to be about this subject.  This system has failed in every sense of the word for WHATEVER reason.  That is a fact.  The only question for discussion is whether to pour more taxpayer dollars into it, especially given alternatives in mass transit for using the money much more effectively (such as the streetcars we all agree upon).  I have demonstrated here over and over that the arguments offered today for expanding the Skyway are deja vu.

You can have your opinions but attacking my support with allegations not documented and reconciled to public statements is not going to make your case with me or a lot of others.

P.S. As I recall, the T-U was as big a booster of building the Skyway as anyone.  For them to later question its viability in more recent editorials would have to be described as a "conversion" of sorts of an advid proponent to at least a doubting Thomas.

stjr

June 02, 2010, 07:49:57 PM
Here is evidence of the tide beginning to turn at the Times Union.

It does reference an advisory committee plan for 4.6 miles but then concludes that the assumptions made for growth and other factors changed it.  The record shows that the final plan was deemed to be a viable system WITHOUT needing the other 2.1 miles.  If this was not the case, the projections should have been different and the other 2.1 miles should have been represented as clearly defined Phase 3.  Instead, the 2.5 miles built were sold to taxpayers as a self contained system capable of delivering 30,000 plus (pick your number) riders a day.  And, all mention of any more expansions was not given as a quid pro quo to making it work successfully.  This conclusion is also consistent with the fact that officials have never given an additional expansion as a cause for the system's gross failures.

This is partly why I push on that expansion is not the panacea proponents make it out to be, the other part being there are far better ways to spend the money and get better results.


Quote
Published Tuesday, November 7, 2000

TRANSPORTATION: 1972 dream realized

By The Times-Union

With the Skyway now in full operation, an assessment of its performance can begin.

But, until that assessment is done and proves favorable, any extension of the Skyway should be kept off the table.


Officials of the Jacksonville Transportation Authority continue to talk of extending the Skyway to Alltel Stadium and into Riverside, or even north into Springfield.

They are likely to find that going beyond the talking stage will be extremely difficult.


Until the 2.3 mile system can prove that its benefits exceed its $183.9 million cost, there is almost no chance of public support.

The Skyway has been a hard sell all along.

Conceptual study of it began in 1972, while Richard Nixon was president. Jacksonville was one of seven cities chosen by the federal government to build an automated system as a demonstration program.

In 1978, a feasibility study got under way and a task force and citizens advisory committee drew plans for a 4.6-mile system that would move people around in the central business district, including workers who would park on the fringes, or transfer from mass transit.

But as the project dragged on through the bureaucracy amid political opposition, the assumptions made for growth on the routes and other factors changed. Early, ambitious ridership projections never have been realized. Currently, the system claims about 2,300 rides on the line daily.

Still, that represents a certain amount of traffic that would have been in the downtown area otherwise. Also, it is elevated, so the trains do not disrupt street traffic or slow for traffic lights.

Miami's Metromover, a 4.4-mile elevated system that is linked to rail, cost nearly $400 million. It claimed 13,700 boardings daily last year.

We have supported the Skyway, optimistically, because it had considerable support from citizens and planners who believed it would be successful. One argument they advanced is true: Unlike other mass transit, the Skyway's big cost is in construction, and three-fourths of that came from state and federal taxpayers. It is relatively inexpensive to operate and should last for many years. Thus, the biggest financial hurdle is cleared.

We remain willing to give the Skyway reasonable time to prove its value before condemning it as a complete waste of time.
[/b]But the clock is ticking now.

thelakelander

June 02, 2010, 07:52:12 PM
Let us know when you read the actual archived skyway documents in the Special Collections Department (4th floor of the main library, check in and ask to go behind the information counter) and not random newspaper articles that were written 25 years later.  I promise your eyes will be opened to a new wealth of information regarding the Skyway system.

seriously, STJR?

You are going to quote the critics of the program whose outright sabotage is the reason it didn't work in the first place?

Lake,  I am reflecting what the taxpaying public has been told and sold.  I have backed it up numerous times with figures, quotes, articles, etc., much of it from JTA, City, and Federal sources on the record.

I'm just telling you the actual reports show something completely different and proves several of the quotes you've been using to validate your argument are completely off base and inaccurate.  Although I don't agree with you're position, I'm not trying to change your viewpoint.  I just want you to be aware of the system's true history.  For all we know, once you look into it, it could make your argument stronger.

Quote
Why is it that every time I step up to the new and ever rising bar you guys request, the bar is moved still higher?  Why don't you go to the library and produce those documents you think support your case?  And, while your are it, reconcile them with what the public was presented with.

I've always stood by my position that what exists today is smaller and not what was originally planned.  In fact, I've already produced documentation backing my position.  Here are a few scans from front page articles about the skyway that we've run on this site.







http://www.metrojacksonville.com/article/2008-nov-the-forgotten-skyway-plan







http://www.metrojacksonville.com/article/2006-oct-downtown-frankenstein-the-skyway-screwing-up-the-idea-of-mass-transit

This last image shows what we have today overlayed over one of the early alignments.  A few things stand out at me with this particular graphic.  

1. Ridership would have been significantly higher if it ran from Shands/Springfield to the Northbank waterfront and County Courthouse.  These are actual destinations.  A seldom used conference hall and an isolated out-of-the-way parking garage are not.

2. Future extension to Gateway Mall, the Gator Bowl, Riverside Avenue and San Marco are indicated.

Need more proof that the system was supposed to be more extensive.  Check out the 2000 Downtown Master Plan.



I offer these graphics above as proof to refute the claims of that what exists today is the complete system.  With this said, I also question if original ridership numbers critics cry about were based on a more extensive system that actually went somewhere or the scaled down incomplete version that exists today.

Quote
For such well informed people, I am really surprised how myopic you seem to be about this subject.  This system has failed in every sense of the word for WHATEVER reason.  That is a fact.  The only question for discussion is whether to pour more taxpayer dollars into it, especially given alternatives in mass transit for using the money much more effectively (such as the streetcars we all agree upon).  I have demonstrated here over and over that the arguments offered today for expanding the Skyway are deja vu.

You can have your opinions but attacking my support with allegations not documented and reconciled to public statements is not going to make your case with me or a lot of others.

I don't love the skyway that much to sit here and make up graphics during a work week.  So I offer the scans of documents I've researched in the Special Collections department as factual proof of my particular position.

thelakelander

June 02, 2010, 08:07:39 PM
Here's further indication that what exists is not as extensive as what was originally proposed.  This is an editorial in 1997 from a long time critic, Ron Littlepage.

Quote
Limousines would be cheaper than the Skyway

The Florida Times-Union - Monday, January 6, 1997
Author: Ronald L. Littlepage, Times-Union columnist

No, you are not dreaming.

Yes, it is a nightmare.

The folks at the "we screwed up the roadways and the bus system, what can we do next?" Jacksonville Transportation Authority are making their plans for 1998.

At the top of the list is dumping more money down the rathole -- my apologies to rats everywhere -- popularly known as the Automated Riderless Express.

Never mind that most of the time the cars of the little train that couldn't, when it happens to be running, go back and forth empty.

Never mind that when the 2.5mile system is finally completed late this year, the official price tag will be $185 million of taxpayer money.

Go ahead and figure it out. That comes to almost $75 million per mile.

As has been pointed out before, it would have been cheaper to hire chauffeured limousines to carry the few people who ride the Skyway to their destinations.

From the beginning, the silly train has been billed as a "demonstration project," which is how the JTA got the federal government to ante up a pile of money so that people in places like Wyoming would help us folks in Jacksonville pay for the thing.

Now that the "demonstration" has proven to be a flop, you'd think that would be the end of it.

No.

The JTA is seriously considering further demonstrating its ability to screw up by spending $85 million more to extend the Skyway to Alltel Stadium.

This will get interesting.

Mayor John Delaney, who has appointed some of his buddies to the JTA board, prides himself on fulfilling campaign promises.

Some of us remember what he said about the Skyway when he was running for office in 1995.

He called it a "disaster" and a "turkey." His campaign literature said, "We're through building the people mover." He pledged not to put any more local money into the project.

Because the opposition of a mayor, particularly a popular one like Delaney, would likely end any talk of extending the Skyway , the question becomes: Will Delaney stick by his promises or will he undergo a conversion at the altar of the Skyway as his predecessor did once he was in office?

The JTA is pushing the Skyway extension to Alltel Stadium as a way to get fans to Jaguar games and as a shuttle for downtown workers, who the JTA hopes to entice to park there during the week.

Forget it.

For three years now, we've proven that fans can get to Jaguar games quite nicely, thank you.

As far as downtown workers, $85 million would hire a lot of limousine drivers.

Gee. Shuttle buses would be even cheaper.

Nearly every single skyway plan called for the people mover to serve the Stadium District.  There's even a stub for the future Bay Street corridor.  So what was planned was a much larger beast. One that actually would have connected major destinations.  However, under much criticism, JTA gave up on it.

stjr

June 02, 2010, 08:11:20 PM
Lake, see my last post before your above.  There is a very public record of what officials have represented to the public.  Concepts and discussion plans are fine, but that isn't what was finally adopted, funded, and built.

Look, it's common sense, more stops and expansion will produce more riders.  I can't quibble with that.  But... will it produce anywhere near the riders to justify the money needed to make the expansion a reality?  I and others say the long track record gives us a pretty clear answer: "no."  Meanwhile, the track record for streetcars, buses, and even the lowly PCT Trolley is far better in carrying traffic per dollar spent to build and operate their systems.

When I look at the history of the Skyway, I focus on what was actually built and the specific promises and representations that went with it.  The academic and discarded visions and plans that were not incorporated in this process don't seem to have much relevancy as those visions and plans were never pursued and/or required as a prerequisite to justifying the system built and its success.

Not to mention that we now have 23 years of operating experience with the Skyway that show it really isn't the best way to do mass transit (far from it).  It was a demonstration project for Jax and the country and, if we abandon it, all is not lost.  It will have done its job "demonstrating" it is not the best solution for mass transit versus other options.  That is not a a bad thing.  Imagine, if every city in the country had built one of these systems only to find out what we have.  How set back would mass transit nationally be?  Let the Skyway be a sacrificial lamb.  We can always bronze a car to memorialize it.  ;)

stjr

June 02, 2010, 08:19:02 PM
Here's further indication that what exists is not as extensive as what was originally proposed.  This is an editorial in 1997 from a long time critic, Ron Littlepage.

...Nearly every single skyway plan called for the people mover to serve the Stadium District.  There's even a stub for the future Bay Street corridor.  So what was planned was a much larger beast. One that actually would have connected major destinations.  However, under much criticism, JTA gave up on it.

Lake, 1997 is 10 years AFTER it opened and some 25 or more years after it was first hatched.  That is a johnny-come-lately to me and merely resembles the current discussion.

Be glad that that leg was not built.  Because, given the dearth of development in that direction since 1997, that is one expansion that would likely have added few, if any riders, except a few football fans headed to the stadium a dozen times a year.  Hardly significant use for a model system that should run 15 to 20 hours a day, 7 days a week.  Nor, a great return on $85 million plus additional operating expenses.  And, Littlepage reached my conclusion, that shuttle buses, etc. do the job fine of transporting people to the stadium without the expense of expanding the Skyway, so why bother?  Remember, some people thought all those convention center users were going to use the Skyway.  That hasn't happened.

thelakelander

June 02, 2010, 08:30:58 PM
Lake, see my last post before your above.  There is a very public record of what officials have represented to the public.  Concepts and discussion plans are fine, but that isn't what was finally adopted, funded, and built.

My point remains the same.  Initial ridership numbers came from a more extensive system that was never constructed and based on a vibrant downtown that does not exist.  However, I really do wonder why the current configuration ended up being constructed?  If we want to talk about bad planning on a public level, that's one thing, but the system that exists is a product of the sick environment its built to serve.  We can rip it and install a streetcar, but if a similar route is chosen and not properly integrated into the regional transit network and with complementing land uses, it will fail as well.

Quote
Look, it's common sense, more stops and expansion will produce more riders.  I can't quibble with that.  But... will it produce anywhere near the riders to justify the money needed to make the expansion a reality?  I and others say the long track record gives us a pretty clear answer: "no."  Meanwhile, the track record for streetcars, buses, and even the lowly PCT Trolley is far better in carrying traffic per dollar spent to build and operate their systems.

This is where you confuse me with Ock and some others.  I'm not a fan of expanding the skyway.  I believe the best method is to establish streetcar and commuter rail corridors serve a much larger population base.  I believe that once these things are in place, like Miami's Metromover, you will see a significant increase in skyway ridership.  In the meantime, I'd rather explore ways to better utilize the existing system to reduce annual O&M loss.

Quote
When I look at the history of the Skyway, I focus on what was actually built and the specific promises and representations that went with it.  The academic and discarded visions and plans that were not incorporated in this process don't seem to have much relevancy as those visions and plans were never pursued and/or required as a prerequisite to justifying the system and its success.

Instead of looking at an individual component of the urban environment, I look at the environment as a whole.  Each individual component in that environment was complement another to combine to create a much larger significant product.  Like Metropolitan Park, the lack of dedicated parking at the Landing, disrespect of historic building stock, a bad mass transit plan (the skyway in its current state) only leads to failure on a larger level.  Btw, what exists today is not what was promised to the public in the 1970s and 80s.

Quote
Not to mention that we now have 23 years of operating experience with the Skyway that show it really isn't the best way to do mass transit (far from it).  It was a demonstration project for Jax and the country and, if we abandon it, all is not lost.  It will have done its job "demonstrating" it is not the best solution for mass transit versus other options.  That is not a a bad thing.  Imagine, if every city in the country had built one of these systems only to find out what we have.  How set back would mass transit nationally be?  Let the Skyway be a sacrificial lamb.  We can always bronze a car to memorialize it.  ;)[/b]

To me, the skyway and the Landing are similar creatures.  The Landing has been around since the 1980s without adequate dedicated parking to secure and keep major retailers.  If we applied your skyway logic to the Landing's situation, the answer would be that the place doesn't work, we should tear it down and build something new somewhere else.  My logic is to research the history and understand why it doesn't work.  Then instead of going back to ground zero, just provide the dedicated parking the place needs to be more successful.  By the same token, my view towards the skyway is to provide the connections to destinations and neighborhoods needed to feed riders to it as originally proposed.  I believe this can be accomplished through streetcars, commuter rail and BRT.

CS Foltz

June 02, 2010, 08:34:28 PM
$kyway is a lost cause kids and the $7 Million Dollars a year it costs us to run is money down the drain! It was not designed to cover the whole of the City and what little it does cover is not the 24/7 mass transit machine that it should be or is needed! At some point, if John Boy is serious about saving money......well here is the chance to save $7 Million Dollars a year! In fact, that  money would go a long way to design, build and mantain LR/Trolly!

thelakelander

June 02, 2010, 08:35:59 PM
Here's further indication that what exists is not as extensive as what was originally proposed.  This is an editorial in 1997 from a long time critic, Ron Littlepage.

...Nearly every single skyway plan called for the people mover to serve the Stadium District.  There's even a stub for the future Bay Street corridor.  So what was planned was a much larger beast. One that actually would have connected major destinations.  However, under much criticism, JTA gave up on it.

Lake, 1997 is 10 years AFTER it opened and some 25 or more years after it was first hatched.  That is a johnny-come-lately to me and merely resembles the current discussion.

Be glad that that leg was not built.  Because, given the dearth of development in that direction since 1997, that is one expansion that would likely have added few, if any riders, except a few football fans headed to the stadium a dozen times a year.  Hardly significant use for a model system that should run 15 to 20 hours a day, 7 days a week.  Nor, a great return on $85 million plus additional operating expenses.  And, Littlepage reached my conclusion, that shuttle buses, etc. do the job fine of transporting people to the stadium without the expense of expanding the Skyway, so why bother?  Remember, some people thought all those convention center users were going to use the Skyway.  That hasn't happened.


Looking back, it would have been better and cheaper to build the entire thing on the Northbank instead of crossing the river to vertical office park dominated by surface parking lots and companies with their own commuter shuttle services.  In this scenario, a garage could have been built at the Prime Osborn and the line could have ran all the way to the stadium.  Ridership would have definitely been higher and capital costs significantly lower.  Anyway, the past is the past.  Focusing on the future, I believe is best to not extend it, yet still find ways to better utilize the existing system.

thelakelander

June 02, 2010, 08:38:28 PM
$kyway is a lost cause kids and the $7 Million Dollars a year it costs us to run is money down the drain! It was not designed to cover the whole of the City and what little it does cover is not the 24/7 mass transit machine that it should be or is needed! At some point, if John Boy is serious about saving money......well here is the chance to save $7 Million Dollars a year! In fact, that  money would go a long way to design, build and maintain LR/Trolly!

I think we all know any public mass transit system (and highway) is going to operate at a deficit. Any idea on how much that $7 million can be reduced through better utilization and integration into the existing transit network?

strider

June 02, 2010, 08:41:45 PM
Quote
Be glad that that leg was not built.  Because, given the dearth of development in that direction since 1997, that is one expansion that would likely have added few, if any riders, except a few football fans headed to the stadium a dozen times a year.  Hardly significant use for a model system that should run 15 to 20 hours a day, 7 days a week.  Nor, a great return on $85 million plus additional operating expenses.  And, Littlepage reached my conclusion, that shuttle buses, etc. do the job fine of transporting people to the stadium without the expense of expanding the Skyway, so why bother?  Remember, some people thought all those convention center users were going to use the Skyway.

I know I am a bit late to this discussion, but the above caught my eye.  It seems that in every case of permanent mass transit...meaning rails of any type, of which the Skyway could be considered part of... development takes place after the construction of the mass transit.  Evidence of that happening for more conventional rail has been presented on this forum multiple times.  Of course, even permanent rails need to go to a sensible destination to be effective as a development stimulator, but I would think the Skyway could have affected the same new development projects by the then growing sports complex area. The quick route change on a whim trolleys do nothing to inspire the confidence needed to promote new development along their routes. Using the lack of development as a reason why we should be glad the extension did not take place seems a bit misguided at best.  Mass transit only fails when the routes and stops fail the prospective riders. Not extending the Skyway may have been far more of the fault than just building it at all.

thelakelander

June 02, 2010, 08:45:51 PM
If the skyway did serve the Stadium District, that would have eliminated the "JSO evacuation" problem with major events being held down there.  People who don't want to be forced directly to I-95 could have used the skyway to access DT restaurants and bars before and after games and events.

stjr

June 02, 2010, 08:57:34 PM
Lake, to your points about better alternatives, I have already agreed with you - let's build those alternatives first.  We will then collectively come to one of two conclusions:

(1) The alternatives are so far superior to the Skyway that it is totally obvious we should not run the Skyway as a parallel or overlapping system and/or that such alternatives fail to adequately feed riders to the existing Skyway system confirming its worthlessness beyond a question.  With either result, we abandon the Skyway for something far better.

(2) Those alternatives will fulfill Ock's and your dreams to the fullest and all that "connectivity" will boost the Skyway to convincing levels versus the costs to maintain it.  It lives to see another day.

I just don't want another dollar put in "growing" the Skyway until the above is accomplished.  And, we need to pursue those alternatives "yesterday" because we are flushing tens of millions in Skyway operating expenses down the drain every year it continues as it is.  As the T-U has stated, the Skyway's clock is ticking.  Some of us already think it's time has run out.  For those who think it deserves some more time, if streetcars don't come soon, it likely will run out of time sooner than later.

fsujax

June 02, 2010, 09:01:15 PM
Lake you are right. There are reasons why the Skyway was never fully implemeneted. Its all POLITICS. Something that is out of JTA's hands sometimes. That is what happens when you have leadership change every four to eight years.

stjr

June 02, 2010, 09:02:37 PM
Quote
I know I am a bit late to this discussion, but the above caught my eye.  It seems that in every case of permanent mass transit...meaning rails of any type, of which the Skyway could be considered part of... development takes place after the construction of the mass transit.  Evidence of that happening for more conventional rail has been presented on this forum multiple times.  

Strider, the New York High Line, an ABANDONED rail line, attracted $900 million in development BEFORE it was finished.  Contrast that to the Skyway that, to my knowledge, has attracted zero (maybe even negative) development over its 23 years of existence.  Don't you think that if even one developer or larger employer/company saw promise in this system they would have stepped up to make a deal with the City over it.  Where is there even the "interest"?

stephendare

June 02, 2010, 09:05:28 PM
This whole 'the sky way isnt being used' stuff is malarkey, incidentally.

While its principal intent was to form the backbone of a mass transit system (which was then sabotaged by critics before the first full mile could be built) that isnt the only function that the skyways serves.

The skyway is used every single day, and it is heavily used by the hotels of the southbank to connect to downtown.

What are you guys proposing to do?  junk that connection too?

Well that would be just brilliant.   Then the two sides of the river would have even less reason to interact.

Many people use it every day to connect to those hotels and businesses for work.  Just because you personally do not use the skyway, doesnt mean that there arent a good number of people on the northside who ride a bus into the fscj station every day and then hop on the skyway to go to work on the southbank.  I am a frequent user of the skyway myself.  It is usually the quickest way to get from the station to the rest of downtown if you are taking the buses.  Anyone who has ridden the bus from springfield can also attest to this.

And then there is this pernicious discussion about the cost.

Which is bollocks.

The entire system so far cost 200 million.  Discontinuing the use of the skyway wouldnt bring a single penny back.  Not a single shiny cent.

But that system includes with it an already existing mass transit bridge over the water.

Only a truly deluded person would think that the cost of building a new system connection over the water would be less than 200 million.

This is the kind of thinking that everyone on this website regularly screams about.

Why would you junk a perfectly useful transit connection and then turn around and spend twice the money?  Would it be the added benefit of the ten years which would have to be wasted in planning and permitting a new bridge?

This entire discussion is lunkheaded at best, and self destructively spiteful at worst.

Gotta tell ya kids.  If anyone thinks a new transit bridge is going to be more affordable in ten years than it is now, they have a screw loose.  Or they are working on a script about the Presidency of Ron Paul.

In the real world, it aint happening.

Killingly, the proponents of destroying the transit bridge are the same people who are raising sand about any plan to raise money to build bus shelters through advertising.

If you guys can't figure out how to build enough damned bus shelters for people to be able to actually use the damn bus system without raising new taxes, how in hell do you propose to replace a transit bridge ten years in the future?

With keebler magic?

To be frank the whole lost cause of being against the skyway is a little tiring.  Really?  The suggestion has been heard and noted.  But until you guys can figure out something more complex than building bus shelters, I can't take your suggestions about dynamiting the only transit bridge that exists in the city seriously.  And I hope no one else does either.

Lake you are right. There are reasons why the Skyway was never fully implemeneted. Its all POLITICS. Something that is out of JTA's hands sometimes. That is what happens when you have leadership change every four to eight years.

This is completely true.  And it was based on the arguments we are hearing now.  If the damned thing had just been built, the light rail systems would probably be getting opened right about now.  Which was the original plan.

stjr

June 02, 2010, 09:05:49 PM
This whole 'the sky way isnt being used' stuff is malarkey, incidentally.

...To be frank the whole lost cause of being against the skyway is a little tiring.  Really?  The suggestion has been heard and noted.  But until you guys can figure out something more complex than building bus shelters, I can't take your suggestions about dynamiting the only transit bridge that exists in the city seriously.  And I hope no one else does either.

Stephen, I am calling in Ock. He is an expert on posts beneath oneself.  I am nominating this one.

Nice respect for opinions different than yours.  If you can't take the heat, maybe you should leave the kitchen.

I thought this was an "open" forum by the way.

stephendare

June 02, 2010, 09:13:43 PM
It is an open forum,  you are free to have whatever critical opinions you like.  As are we all.  And this post is not beneath me, it is critical of the kind of contradictory logic at play in these discussions about mass transit.

We got it.  you think it should be torn down.  Its not going to be.

And you have so far failed to answer the question asked about the mass transit bridge provided by the skyway over 7 months ago.

Simply continuing to repeat that you think the system is useless and too expensive is not a substitute for explaining how you would fund a replacement for that bridge stjr.  I have waited patiently for you to explain this to us, and no such explanation has been forthcoming.

Similarly your argument that the city should simply not provide bus shelters because you don't agree with JTA making the money by selling advertising is similarly untenable.  Really?  The JTA should be prevented from using an internal mechanism for raising funds?  Based on what?  Voodoo?  Are these benches the object of some curse that renders them useless?    

How do you square this argument with your contradictory argument that the mass transit systems lose money?

Its a paradigm that is designed to fail from its own cross purposes.

Similarly your argument against the skyways rests on your assertion that the skyway is useless because it doesnt go anywhere.

Yet you obstinately keep asserting that it shouldnt be built to anywhere useful either.

This is self defeating and absurd logic.

If we listened seriously to this kind of stuff, we'd still be in the same place 20 years from now.

No thank you.

Perhaps if you can outline your plan on providing a mass transit bridge that connects the two banks of the river, that cost less money than tearing down the entire one that already exists, then your argument would be a little more credible.

In the absence of such a solution, I suggest that this is merely complaining and a bit irrational.

thelakelander

June 02, 2010, 09:19:13 PM
Lake, to your points about better alternatives, I have already agreed with you - let's build those alternatives first.  We will then collectively come to one of two conclusions:

(1) The alternatives are so far superior to the Skyway that it is totally obvious we should not run the Skyway as a parallel or overlapping system and/or that such alternatives fail to adequately feed riders to the existing Skyway system confirming its worthlessness beyond a question.  With either result, we abandon the Skyway for something far better.

(2) Those alternatives will fulfill Ock's and your dreams to the fullest and all that "connectivity" will boost the Skyway to convincing levels versus the costs to maintain it.  It lives to see another day.

I just don't want another dollar put in "growing" the Skyway until the above is accomplished.  And, we need to pursue those alternatives "yesterday" because we are flushing tens of millions in Skyway operating expenses down the drain every year it continues as it is.  As the T-U has stated, the Skyway's clock is ticking.  Some of us already think it's time has run out.  For those who think it deserves some more time, if streetcars don't come soon, it likely will run out of time sooner than later.


With this post, we are on the same page. However, I would like to maximize the existing skyway and help reduce the annual deficit.  I don't think you have to put money in it to generate additional income. These include:

1. Eliminate buses in DT, outside of the proposed BRT corridors. This will improve existing bus route frequencies and cut down bus O&M expenses.

2. Eliminate service duplication. All buses, including BRT vehicles should only make stops at the skyway's endpoints in DT. Transit riders heading DT should transfer to the skyway or free PCTs.  This saves O&M costs by reducing service duplication and feeds riders onto the skyway and PCTs.

3. Train Wrap Advertising. Like bus shelter advertising, I'm all in for selling out JTA's soul to the private sector to generate additional income.  Train wrap advertising and station naming rights are two ways to get additional access to private dollars.

4. Vendor Kiosks.  The skyway's station floor areas are huge and highly underutilized.  Station floor areas in central locations could be leased to retail vendors.  This would not only provide some additional revenue but additional ridership as stations become destinations themselves.

5. Public Art.  Stations are large and underused.  Why not incorporate public art and sculptures in and around them.  Again, the point would be to make stations worth visiting themselves, which allows the skyway to serve as a circulator between various unique destinations.

I believe a mix of creative solutions like this will benefit, JTA, the skyway and downtown.  These are also things that can be applied to streetcars and commuter rail as well.

stjr

June 02, 2010, 09:23:42 PM
Quote
If we listened seriously to this kind of stuff ...

Aaaah, Stephen, but... you aren't listening as proven by your gross misrepresentation of everything I have posted, asserted, and opined.  You don't have to listen... but don't attempt to speak for me, over me, etc. in an attempt to drown me out and/or to discourage others from reading my posts and/or making decisions on the issue for themselves.

I would suggest, by the way, that when you chose to, as in the present case, you are far more obstinate than most anyone posting on these boards.  How and when that switch gets flipped, I have no idea.  But you accusing others of this transgression is like the pot calling the kettle black.

I could rebut your post line by line but you have made it clear that it's not worth the effort.

stjr

June 02, 2010, 09:27:58 PM
With this post, we are on the same page. However, I would like to maximize the existing skyway and help reduce the annual deficit.  I don't think you have to put money in it to generate additional income.

Lake, who can argue with increasing revenue without increasing expenses.  Go for it.  Will it be enough?  Time would tell.

stephendare

June 02, 2010, 09:33:23 PM
Quote
If we listened seriously to this kind of stuff ...

Aaaah, Stephen, but... you aren't listening as proven by your gross misrepresentation of everything I have posted, asserted, and opined.  You don't have to listen... but don't attempt to speak for me, over me, etc. in an attempt to drown me out and/or to discourage others from reading my posts and/or making decisions on the issue for themselves.

I would suggest, by the way, that when you chose to, as in the present case, you are far more obstinate than most anyone posting on these boards.  How and when that switch gets flipped, I have no idea.  But you accusing others of this transgression is like the pot calling the kettle black.

I could rebut your post line by line but you have made it clear that it's not worth the effort.



You mean you can't?

I am positing these questions in all seriousness.  I have listened and read your arguments on this issue most thoughtfully.  If I am iincorrect, show me the error of my ways.  

As you know, I have great respect for your opinions, knowledge and ability to research in almost every area.  I certainly do not disagree with you lightly.

But it seems like this endless campaign is overtaking and smothering many unrelated conversations about transit that might otherwise be fruitful.

If there is some merit in this argument, for me it will begin with your explanation of these internal conflicts in your logic, and an explanation of how to replace the commuter crossing.

CS Foltz

June 02, 2010, 09:40:54 PM
Well, with the hours the silly thing operates, which is not 24/7 and should be in order to get maximum dollar return, $kyway is wasting money! We are talking about $7 Million Dollars a year to run something for how many riders.....1,200 perday? BRT(Whoppee......I did not ask for it and I still say routing for ridership convience will be a mother but this is the JTA way!) Lets not forget the "Tram"......egads......bus decked out to look like a trolly! We need to get rail, either LR or Trolly set up and going, so we can start getting downtown up to speed! I am not depending on JTA or City Hall  to do the job since they have their own agendas and that does not include the taxpaying public!

fsujax

June 02, 2010, 09:43:21 PM
well, 1200 riders a day is more than Nashvilles Music City Star (commuter rail) gets.

thelakelander

June 02, 2010, 09:47:24 PM
Tampa's TECO Streetcar line is down to 700 riders a day.  On the other hand the Memphis RTA Trolleys are averaging 4,100 riders a day.  

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_United_States_light_rail_systems_by_ridership

Although the Tampa streetcar has spurred billions in economic development, ridership will still suffer if your route does not serve the general populace.  Another funny thing about Tampa's streetcar, its ridership is lower than the peoplemover that was taken down.

fsujax

June 02, 2010, 09:50:01 PM
yep. Nashville's Commuter Rail could probably be doing a lot better, but they went with the path of least resistance. Serving the least commuter demand in the Nashville region.

Ocklawaha

June 02, 2010, 09:56:29 PM
Look, it's common sense, more stops and expansion will produce more riders.  I can't quibble with that.  But... will it produce anywhere near the riders to justify the money needed to make the expansion a reality?  I and others say the long track record gives us a pretty clear answer: "no."  Meanwhile, the track record for streetcars, buses, and even the lowly PCT Trolley is far better in carrying traffic per dollar spent to build and operate their systems.

This is where you confuse me with Ock and some others.  I'm not a fan of expanding the skyway.  I believe the best method is to establish streetcar and commuter rail corridors serve a much larger population base.  I believe that once these things are in place, like Miami's Metromover, you will see a significant increase in skyway ridership.  In the meantime, I'd rather explore ways to better utilize the existing system to reduce annual O&M loss.

Before we go off labeling me as a blind expansionist of the Skyway, consider that your position is pretty much the same as mine.  

We DO NEED to expand it Southward to reach destinations that would feed the transit network. Reason? Streetcars will not function too well in the squeeze that we have created with the crazy Acosta ramps with the outlaw 50 mph speeds on them.  So the short or quick link from Downtown-Brooklyn is right where the FDOT and JTA proposes it alongside Riverside Avenue.  Perhaps we differ in that I would like to kill two birds with one stone and use the Skyway to wrap Annie Lytle into a publicly owned TOD and food/retail/entertainment centers, but once the thing is at Forest and Riverside, (the likely streetcar-Bus interchange) Annie is just around the corner.

San Marco, I'm the original streetcar guy in Jacksonville, but unless we hang them in the air or in a subway there is NO WAY to defeat the Florida East Coast Railway crossings. The City of South Jacksonville even sued back in the 1920's to DEMAND an overpass or underpass on those tracks... never happened. So we either bust out San Marco Boulevard and widen this Avant-garde street to 4 lanes plus parking and turn lanes, costing us a great deal of historic and retail fabric, and toss in a couple of $60 Million dollar overpasses or we spend $25 Million and take the Skyway down to the San Marco Commuter Rail Station at Atlantic.

Oops, having tapped a commuter rail station and made a way for seamless transfers from Train/BRT to SKYWAY, we need to make sure another transfer isn't required.  EASTSIDE ... Duh!  Stadium? Maybe. Shipyards? Maybe. JSO/Berkman/future convention center? ABSOLUTELY.

Otherwise, moniter the new VA medical Clinic, which will be something greater then the mess we have today which takes up the old Methodist Hospital and three Southside office buildings.  Could the Skyway terminate there? Free money? Maybe.  Designed as a terminal. Could be. Then there is the Rosa Parks/FSC gap. Wouldn't VA set up a Northside connection point? The Skyway would come up along Boulevard and Jefferson, and the Streetcar from Main Street via 8Th, spread out they would not compete but compliment each other.


Quote
When I look at the history of the Skyway, I focus on what was actually built and the specific promises and representations that went with it.  The academic and discarded visions and plans that were not incorporated in this process don't seem to have much relevancy as those visions and plans were never pursued and/or required as a prerequisite to justifying the system and its success.


So if you owned a huge public-private corporation, and the citizens were attacking your plans at every turn, you'd prefer us to consult the TU, or YOUR ACTUAL DOCUMENTS?


OCKLAWAHA

fieldafm

June 02, 2010, 10:00:45 PM
I think these examples(Tampa, Syracuse and Nashville)  are exactly the reason that public misconception about fixed mass transit is so crucial a roadblock that needs to be overcome in Jacksonville.  The Skyway was doomed by compromise.  Compromise has a special place in the follies of Jacksonville over the last 50 years.  If we also abide by a fixed mass transit plan that follows the path of least political resistance we will have yet another failure to hang our hats on.

fsujax

June 02, 2010, 10:07:14 PM
well, the Nashville example wasnt path of least political resistance, but least path of ownership existence. Publicaly ran RR vs private RR

hillary supporter

June 02, 2010, 10:27:00 PM
Perhaps we should consider a hard push for downtown residential presence. Geared, yes, towards low income. i am personally pessimistic at any commercial presence downtown as its seems to have decreased substantially over the recent years, with a full fury towards 95 south corridor, to be resumed in our economic recovery . Accordingly we could expect more use of the skyway, yes?
i witnessed the nyc high rail project and believe its success was based on such a strong residential presence in the immediate area. This is nonexistent in DT jax. Such a idea seems more a waste of time ( and money) stjr.
If you want to rid the skyway, then demolition seems enviable!

thelakelander

June 02, 2010, 10:27:15 PM
Look, it's common sense, more stops and expansion will produce more riders.  I can't quibble with that.  But... will it produce anywhere near the riders to justify the money needed to make the expansion a reality?  I and others say the long track record gives us a pretty clear answer: "no."  Meanwhile, the track record for streetcars, buses, and even the lowly PCT Trolley is far better in carrying traffic per dollar spent to build and operate their systems.

This is where you confuse me with Ock and some others.  I'm not a fan of expanding the skyway.  I believe the best method is to establish streetcar and commuter rail corridors serve a much larger population base.  I believe that once these things are in place, like Miami's Metromover, you will see a significant increase in skyway ridership.  In the meantime, I'd rather explore ways to better utilize the existing system to reduce annual O&M loss.

Before we go off labeling me as a blind expansionist of the Skyway, consider that your position is pretty much the same as mine.  

We DO NEED to expand it Southward to reach destinations that would feed the transit network. Reason? Streetcars will not function too well in the squeeze that we have created with the crazy Acosta ramps with the outlaw 50 mph speeds on them.  So the short or quick link from Downtown-Brooklyn is right where the FDOT and JTA proposes it alongside Riverside Avenue.  Perhaps we differ in that I would like to kill two birds with one stone and use the Skyway to wrap Annie Lytle into a publicly owned TOD and food/retail/entertainment centers, but once the thing is at Forest and Riverside, (the likely streetcar-Bus interchange) Annie is just around the corner.

San Marco, I'm the original streetcar guy in Jacksonville, but unless we hang them in the air or in a subway there is NO WAY to defeat the Florida East Coast Railway crossings. The City of South Jacksonville even brought sued back in the 1920's to DEMAND an overpass or underpass on those tracks... never happened. So we either bust out San Marco Boulevard and widen this Avant-garde street to 4 lanes plus parking and turn lanes, costing us a great deal of historic and retail fabric, and toss in a couple of $60 Million dollar overpasses or we spend $25 Million and take the Skyway down to the San Marco Commuter Rail Station at Atlantic.

Oops, having tapped a commuter rail station and made a way for seamless transfers from Train/BRT to SKYWAY, we need to make sure another transfer isn't required.  EASTSIDE ... Duh!  Stadium? Maybe. Shipyards? Maybe. JSO/Berkman/future convention center? ABSOLUTELY.

Otherwise, moniter the new VA medical Clinic, which will be something greater then the mess we have today which takes up the old Methodist Hospital and three Southside office buildings.  Could the Skyway terminate there? Free money? Maybe.  Designed as a terminal. Could be. Then there is the Rosa Parks/FSC gap. Wouldn't VA set up a Northside connection point? The Skyway would come up along Boulevard and Jefferson, and the Streetcar from Main Street via 8Th, spread out they would not compete but compliment each other.
OCKLAWAHA

All your points have merit as potential extensions to the existing network.  Our only difference (a major one) is that I would not spend one red cent expanding the skyway in any direction before first establishing initial streetcar and commuter rail corridors to serve a greater population and to also feed the existing skyway with riders.  There's nothing wrong with planning long term but the reality is there is only so much money available for implementation of any of these options.  With that said, we'll get more bang for our buck and faster support to expand by first implementing "affordable" projects that stretch far outside of the DT core.

Ocklawaha

June 02, 2010, 11:10:27 PM
Lake, I prefer the "sundew" method, the first bug that crawls onto the playing surface gets snapped up.




FSUJAX, Nashville and Eastern is a Corporation, but it is a shortline railroad. The entire 110 miles was ready for the scrap heap when it was discovered by the shortline industry. Formerly the railroad was part of the old Tennessee Central Railroad, (sort of Tennessee's hard luck version of Florida's successful Florida East Coast Ry). TC ran from the Kentucky Border at Clarksville, south to Nashville, and hence east across the center of the state. In it's bankruptcy sale, Louisville and Nashville (future CSX) and the Southern Railway (future Norfolk Southern) bought up the line and immediately severed the through route, leaving what became 3 isolated branchlines. From streamlined passenger trains in 1960, to weed choked dead end freight line under CSX, this was the WRECK OF THE TENNESSEE CENTRAL.

Many people laid out the case before the State of Tennessee that the railroad was useless, beyond saving, didn't work and needed to be abandoned and dismantled. Fresh prospective thought otherwise and the NASHVILLE EASTERN entered the stage. Since its initial start-up in the mid-1980’s, the NERR has worked collaboratively with the Tennessee Department of Transportation (TDOT) and the Nashville and Eastern Railroad Authority (NERA) to invest over $80 million into essential rail infrastructure improvements. Over the years, 110 miles of main line and 130 miles of active track have been reconstructed, 85 bridges upgraded or replaced, and 3 miles of new branch-line built.  140,000 passengers rode the NE aboard the Music City Star in 2007 on a route that was originally proposed as a east-west connector to a main north-south commuter line on the CSX.

To date the state hasn't been able to come to terms with the CSX and without the connections the Star has struggled.  As long as the citizens remember that this is NOT A COMPLETED SYSTEM, they should continue to push for expansion. Nashville, the NE, and the Star are all young, there is plenty of time to come up with a fix.
Meanwhile Nashville has shown Jacksonville and the nation how to create a first class commuter rail infrastructure on a shoestring budget... Folks the TC is back!

Witness that nobody is riding this train...  TEAR IT UP!

<a href="http://www.youtube.com/v/M1cL90yJ4sw&amp;hl=en_US&amp;fs=1&amp;color1=0x402061&amp;color2=0x9461ca" target="_blank" class="new_win">http://www.youtube.com/v/M1cL90yJ4sw&amp;hl=en_US&amp;fs=1&amp;color1=0x402061&amp;color2=0x9461ca</a>


OCKLAWAHA

hillary supporter

June 02, 2010, 11:14:57 PM
Quote
All your points have merit as potential extensions to the existing network.  Our only difference (a major one) is that I would not spend one red cent expanding the skyway in any direction before first establishing initial streetcar and commuter rail corridors to serve a greater population and to also feed the existing skyway with riders.  There's nothing wrong with planning long term but the reality is there is only so much money available for implementation of any of these options.  With that said, we'll get more bang for our buck and faster support to expand by first implementing "affordable" projects that stretch far outside of the DT core.
Posted on: Today at 10:27:00 PM
I dont believe we have a large enough population to justify commuter rail corridors ( as in Washington DC). I do agree with you to desist spending on any extention of the Skyway. Accordingly, i would suggest residential development  in Downtown as i posted above. such would, or should , increase skyway ridership, the only way to respond to stjr's (and many in the city) objections to the Skyway.

stephendare

June 02, 2010, 11:18:57 PM
We have more than enough density to support commuter rail, and more importantly it works as a densifier.

Nothing will balance out the effects of planned suburban sprawl more effectively than fixed lines of transit.

It is also exponentially cheaper than maintaining a similarly alligned system of highways.

thelakelander

June 02, 2010, 11:36:33 PM
For those who don't believe we have a large enough population to justify commuter rail, Salt Lake City and Albuquerque are two smaller communities with viable commuter rail systems in place.

Salt Lake City: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/FrontRunner

Albuquerque: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/New_Mexico_Rail_Runner_Express

We must keep in mind that rail builds density, not the other way around.  In addition, instead of worrying about reaching certain density levels, all forms of rail should be designed to efficiently connect actual key attractions, destinations, employers and neighborhoods.  If that can be done, you'll find success even in a city like Jacksonville.  If you don't, your project will fail even in a city like NYC.

hillary supporter

June 03, 2010, 06:09:42 AM
Your two examples do give credence to mass transit based around commuter rail corridors. All in metropolitan areas significantly smaller than Jacksonville. I must have a prejudice against our citizens using it.based around the lack of utilization of Skyway.
I mean, with implication of such within 5 years, it does seem a constructive and wise move forward. I just believe local powers that be will base their conclusions on past experience and not future challenges (such as inevitable auto commuter congestion)

thelakelander

June 03, 2010, 06:38:14 AM
The key is to look at specific corridors and the environment around them instead of overall community population size and density.  In Jacksonville, you have existing rail corridors that will result in different ridership numbers.

If you put commuter rail on the CSX line running to Callahan, it would fail due to a lack of viable destinations and population north of DT, lining that rail corridor.  On the other hand, a line from DT to Fleming Island would result in higher ridership because that route ties in Fleming Island, Orange Park and NAS Jax with Roosevelt Square, FSCJ Kent, Murray Hill, Riverside/Avondale and DT.  It also directly parallels US 17 and Blanding, two of our metro area's most congested roads.  

When you look at Salt Lake City, there numbers are higher because they have a integrated transit system that connects residents with a number of attractions and destinations within walking distance of rail corridors.  Despite being a larger overall community, Nashville's MCS line struggles because it does not.  Trains in these two cities also run at completely different frequencies.  You can catch a FrontRunner train every day of the week.

http://www.rideuta.com/ridingUTA/viewSchedule.aspx?abbreviation=701&dir=1&service=4&signup=101&pdaView=False

On the other hand, Nashville's Music City Star's service is severely limited.

http://www.rta-ride.org/ticketsschedules.html#schedules

This results in one system being reliable for multiple groups of people (tourist, commuters, joyriders, shoppers, sporting event spectators, airport travelers, etc.), while the other is strictly limited to commuters who live and work along that line with a schedule that works with the time MSC trains run.

However, despite it's struggles the Nashville system is a great example of constructing an affordable "no-frills" commuter rail system.  32 miles of commuter rail for $40 million.  In Jacksonville, we struggle to get single highway overpasses built at that cost.

Nashville's Music City Star


Salt Lake City's FrontRunner

Keith-N-Jax

June 03, 2010, 07:09:28 AM
IT seems like more discussion is done on this MB than in COJ and JTA put together. I am not saying everything said on here the city/jta should implement, but you cant deny there's some pretty good ideas on here and there free.

tufsu1

June 03, 2010, 07:57:21 AM
I dont believe we have a large enough population to justify commuter rail corridors ( as in Washington DC).

DC's primary system is Metro, which is considered heavy rail (not really commuter rail)...VRE and MARC are the commuter rail lines in the area.

One of the biggest misunderstandings in the transit world is the difference between streetcars, light rail, heavy rail, commuter rail, and high speed rail.

For example, Tampa is trying to get folks to approve a 1 cent sales tax to fund light rail (among other things)...yet I constantly see newspaper articles calling it commuter rail.

SightseerLounge

June 03, 2010, 09:17:07 AM
Why build a streetcar in Jacksonville? A Streetcar should be built in Jacksonville because it is a good idea... That is exactly why a streetcar won't be built in Jacksonville for the next hundred years. People in Jacksonville are just too comfortable with sticking to the highways! That's the way some interests like people to think!

It is funny that streetcars were the norm about one hundred years ago. Now, they are only found in pictures. The pictures are even scattered! The only time that people see the history is when the old tracks are accidentally dug up from some type of construction! It's like finding a dinosaur skeleton!

Even if the streetcars were returned downtown, people would start to notice! (Florida-Georgia game just to get everyone's minds wondering. I would go to a Jaguars game, if there were a decent Commuter/Streetcar/Light Rail option, just because I could. Who am I kidding? I would go to freeload off all of the tailgate food!)

When I go past Terry Parker, I see all of those kids waiting on the city bus to come and pick them up! That is in Arlington! I can imagine if a train came every hour, even 30 min! Trains connected to downtown and all of the kids will be skipping. (If there were stores to go to shop! Okay, maybe Regency! No, that would be to obvious!)

AaroniusLives

June 03, 2010, 12:48:26 PM
Wow, this was a crazy thread to read. I vanish for a bit and this is what y'all do?  :)

From tufsu1:
Quote
DC's primary system is Metro, which is considered heavy rail (not really commuter rail)...VRE and MARC are the commuter rail lines in the area.

That's not entirely accurate. DC's heavy rail system was designed, much like San Fran's BART, to be a hybrid of a subway-style heavy rail system and a commuter rail system. You can see that reality along the edges of Metro, where the character of the system changes to serve automobile-centric communities.

What is instructive about the Washington Metro involves how critical it is in the reformation and transformation of inner ring suburbia. Many stations along the Metro have been used as the catalyst to create density, walkability, and the beginnings of true urban fabric. Some were planned that way from the get-go (like the Orange Line/Blue Line inner stops in Arlington,) and some are recreating suburbia into something else (like Silver Spring and Rockville.) Hence, the Metro serves both factions (areas already dense needing transit, and areas that become more dense with transit.)

hillary supporter wrote:
Quote
The city seems so spread out that rapid fixed mass transit appears a challenging task. mass transit needs a strong residential presence to be successful , in our case. DC metro system works as mass commute corridors in an area of several million, not dependent on a residential population .  Jax population is not there,though foresight should  be used.

Correct. DC has critical mass regarding population and density. Moreover, the central core of DC wasn't ever truly hollowed out and remained viable and integral, so there was a need for transit to the core. Metropolitan Washington also has the benefit of having a comprehensive, 1st-rate, integrated transportation system that people of all classes willingly use. They're currently building streetcars up here as well, to compliment what is already used, and already there. Finally, it totally sucks to drive in DC. It's much easier to convince people to get out of their cars when the experience inside of them frustrates and infuriates on a daily basis.

That doesn't mean that Jax shouldn't get streetcars...foresight indeed helped build the Metro and that foresight has created modern DC.

Regarding the conversion of the Skyway to a NYC Highline Park, I personally don't think that's feasible, specifically because of the density issues. However, a streetcar system integrated into the existing Skyway? Done. Sold. Why not use what you already have?

thelakelander said it best:
Quote
It makes no sense to fight 20 miles of traffic to then park in a garage to go the last 1/2 mile on the skyway.  If we can get commuter rail and streetcars off the ground and integrated with the skyway, we can have the option to leave our cars right in our driveways and garages.

The "options" part is really the key to selling mass transit, I think. And you hit it right on the nose that without transit-oriented development and a series of linked nodes of transit connecting it all, there's not really an option to leave your car behind.

I've said this on these boards many a time before, but there's also the idea of political will. Are there enough people who want mass transit and are over driving?





hillary supporter

June 03, 2010, 07:06:02 PM
Quote
I've said this on these boards many a time before, but there's also the idea of political will. Are there enough people who want mass transit and are over driving?
I dont think so.  Recent development of our road system aggravates our cause.  I mean, the jax road system is very competent compared to others here in the U.S.  I think continued operation of the Skyway is mandatory, to the objection of stjr, though he has a point. There are a (very small) number of daily users that are dependent on it, DT residents that work in the urban core.  Perhaps this is the issue that keeps it running today. As many have said here, its the principle at hand-as hard as thats for many to accept.
Quote
Insert Quote
Why build a streetcar in Jacksonville? A Streetcar should be built in Jacksonville because it is a good idea... That is exactly why a streetcar won't be built in Jacksonville for the next hundred years. People in Jacksonville are just too comfortable with sticking to the highways! That's the way some interests like people to think!
Oh yes  So true!

thelakelander

June 03, 2010, 09:58:05 PM
The will is not there with the current administration.  However, 2011 offers great political possibilities with the upcoming mayoral election.  In the meantime, planning continues as the JTA, North Florida TPO and the COJ PDD all are moving forward with laying the foundation to fund and implement rail locally.  At the rate things are going, I believe our initial rail line will be operational in five years.

SightseerLounge

June 04, 2010, 12:04:17 PM
That doesn't mean that Jax shouldn't get streetcars...foresight indeed helped build the Metro and that foresight has created modern DC.

Regarding the conversion of the Skyway to a NYC Highline Park, I personally don't think that's feasible, specifically because of the density issues. However, a streetcar system integrated into the existing Skyway? Done. Sold. Why not use what you already have?

The elevated parts of the the skyway that could be used would be the ones that could accomodate LRVs like many cities have...More lines could be made using what is left of those sections. Where the "Skyway" portion ends, the lines could go to grade level, and they could connect to the existing rails...

Aaronius, if you are thinking what I'm thinking, then we're on the same page. If you are just thinking that the skyway should be used in its current form with future streetcar/light rail at the ends, then I can agree with that as well!

Personally, I would want one type of rail on the system, but anything is better than nothing! I'll ride!
 

hillary supporter

June 04, 2010, 01:26:24 PM
Quote
The will is not there with the current administration.  However, 2011 offers great political possibilities with the upcoming mayoral election.
Agreed, this is a very important point for us to draw, and a point we of this blog can actually influence, directly. Also, in my opinion, stjr's point is right and must be addressed in order to move ahead on rapid fixed mass transit in Jacksonville. I think we all agree that at this time from just past 20 years experience, a residential presence is necessary to justify our only outlet of fixed mass transit, Skyway. Accordingly, establishment of downtown resident through lower income housing seems to me to be a first priority. I know many here will object to such through their own opinions and experiences, but in doing so, we could justify the use of Skyway as a sustainable commuting option, which could answer those objections raised by stjr (and a majority of our citizens)
Such  a first step can only be accomplished with a liberal administration, and here im gonna stop naming names as i realize many are becoming annoyed.

thelakelander

June 04, 2010, 01:39:53 PM
Personally, I would want one type of rail on the system, but anything is better than nothing! I'll ride!

An important thing to remember is that most cities with well used mass transit systems have more than one mode.  For example, DC not only has the Metro (heavy rail), that city is also served by MARC (commuter rail), VRE (commuter rail), Amtrak (regional) and Amtrak Acela (high speed).  Soon, streetcars will be added to the mix.  In Dallas you have DART (light rail), TRE (commuter rail) and the M-Line (streetcar).  In Miami you have Metrorail (heavy rail), Metromover (peoplemover) and Tri-Rail (commuter rail).  There is no such thing as "one size fits all" with mass transit.  Transit modes should be used that complement and integrate the best with whatever corridor or environment their designed to serve.  In Jax, this could mean that the skyway serves downtown while a streetcar is more suitable for Riverside/Avondale, commuter rail for Orange Park and BRT for Regency.  As long as the agency running the services can make seamless transferring a possibility, multiple modes aren't a problem.

CS Foltz

June 04, 2010, 01:56:28 PM
  As long as the agency running the services can make seamless transferring a possibility, multiple modes aren't a problem.
lake I agree! Our biggest problem, along with a drastic lack of funds, is the City lacks the will to implement any system beyond $kyway and BRT! The powers that be lack the vision as well as means to go in the right direction, but that should change with the next administration! Atleast we can hope so!

AaroniusLives

June 04, 2010, 02:11:18 PM
Quote
The will is not there with the current administration.  However, 2011 offers great political possibilities with the upcoming mayoral election.  In the meantime, planning continues as the JTA, North Florida TPO and the COJ PDD all are moving forward with laying the foundation to fund and implement rail locally.  At the rate things are going, I believe our initial rail line will be operational in five years.

The will I was referring to here involves the people, the electorate. There needs to be a critical mass of people that want and need mass transit. Moreover, there needs to be a comprehensive plan to create a complete mass transit system (which, it seems, y'all are doing.) Finally, there needs to be the foresight to envision a more crowded, more resource-starved, and more pedestrian Jacksonville.

For Jacksonville, foresight is key, because at present, the metro area isn't in dire need of alternative ways to transport people. Foresight helped create Washington DC as it is today, and I highly recommend this http://www.amazon.com/Great-Society-Subway-Washington-Landscape/dp/080188246X bookto illustrate how foresight and planning created the Metro, and how the Metro transformed DC, the 'burbs and the idea of this city.

tufsu1

June 04, 2010, 02:26:52 PM
Our biggest problem, along with a drastic lack of funds, is the City lacks the will to implement any system beyond $kyway and BRT! The powers that be lack the vision as well as means to go in the right direction, but that should change with the next administration! Atleast we can hope so!

I am tiring of your constant complaints about what the City, JTA, FDOT, etc. can't do right and how much things cost....I thought you were a transit propoenent, but yet you rip apart the Skyway and BRT...so please provide us with some solid ideas that you would support and at what financial level they would be acceptable.

JeffreyS

June 04, 2010, 02:35:57 PM
Our biggest problem, along with a drastic lack of funds, is the City lacks the will to implement any system beyond $kyway and BRT! The powers that be lack the vision as well as means to go in the right direction, but that should change with the next administration! Atleast we can hope so!

I am tiring of your constant complaints about what the City, JTA, FDOT, etc. can't do right and how much things cost....I thought you were a transit propoenent, but yet you rip apart the Skyway and BRT...so please provide us with some solid ideas that you would support and at what financial level they would be acceptable.
I think the part people do not see is that we are moving forward on this even if we have not committed to funding it. The Mobility plan is a great step if we take it. The studies and leg work we put off for so long have been happening the last couple of years.  Members pat yourselves on the back MJ has been a catalyst and the ball is rolling but it is not in the goal yet.

hillary supporter

June 04, 2010, 03:44:12 PM
Quote
I am tiring of your constant complaints about what the City, JTA, FDOT, etc. can't do right and how much things cost....I thought you were a transit proponent, but yet you rip apart the Skyway and BRT...so please provide us with some solid ideas that you would support and at what financial level they would be acceptable.
Posted on: Today at 02:11:18 PM
Yeah, we need to come up with concrete results (not proposals) to, in essence, save Skyway and move ahead with BRT. Im thinking to generate usage of Skyway by implementing residential activity in downtown which will willingly use Skyway, increase its numbers for local legislators to take note and change directions towards Jax mass transit.
Quote
the metro area isn't in dire need of alternative ways to transport people
Yes, thats true. And proven by the terrible numbers of riders that use Skyway. And not large numbers for public buss es, a form of mass transit lets not forget. I cant go at local govt for opposing mass transit development with such being the only solid evidence of local usage.

Jason

June 04, 2010, 04:05:33 PM
Exactly, Jacksonville's population is at the tipping point for supporting mass transit. And if we don't get a plan implemented and start directing growth in such a manner to support it we'll be much worse off.

Enact the mobility plan and support it.  Provide the necessary transit enhancements as they are needed.  Simple.

thelakelander

June 04, 2010, 04:18:17 PM
There is no tipping point to reach. Mass transit built this city and it can still work in the city.  However, it has to be designed and operated in a manner that makes it an attractive, reliable service in the areas of the city that it serves.  Do that and we'll enjoy the success a smaller city like Salt Lake City is having.  Don't and we'll be......Jacksonville.

gridsketch

June 05, 2010, 03:35:43 PM
What this discussion thread lacks is the social component of mass transit and i don't just refer to upcoming political elections. Yes we've been discussing density issues but unless we stop subsidizing suburban growth downtown will suffer in all respects: residential, commercial and transit. The Happy Motoring culture of not just Jacksonville but the entire nation is what's the real problem. Cheap gas, cheap land, bad zoning that encourages greenfield development is killing Jacksonville's density. I remember the discussion i the 80's about white flight from downtown and the white middle class trying to avoid failing schools and integration and public school busing. Well the black people have downtown now to. They've also decided to start participating in happy motoring, suburban culture of America as well albeit in an essentially segregated region of our city. We are training our citizens to not walk. Development have no sidewalks, houses are set back, building codes require huge parking lots. People are getting in their cars just to go to the mailbox.

I think peak oil is going to become the motivating for all these issues. And all those hipster/hippies that are moving downtown and trying to snap up cheap properties on their own, are going to rule this place because they'll be able to walk/bike to their sustainable gardens, farmer's markets and cooperative that make things by hand.

Go play a game of Sim City for a few hours. You'll quickly learn that monorails come last in the development of a game/city. Jacksonville for the past 60 years has been set on Advanced difficulty while being played by newbie level planners. Pretty soon we'll need to start bring in gambling casinos and taking in garbage on barges from New York to pay for poor urban planning.

Stop letting people build so far a way, and stop building more roads and highways. When people get fed up with sitting in commuter traffic they'll start begging for smaller, closer, denser living.

hillary supporter

June 06, 2010, 04:06:47 PM
Quote
What this discussion thread lacks is the social component of mass transit and i don't just refer to upcoming political elections.
Welcome to the thread, Gridsketch. And welcome to Sightseer lounge. The more we have, the better we are.
I feel there is a strong unity of all of us on the social implications gridsketch describes. Whats crucial is to develop a  concrete plan to win municipal support for fixed mass transit. Selecting the appropriate leadership in the upcoming elections, IMO, seems essential. The past mayoral administration has been "ineffective" in moving forward towards fixed mass transit in jax. Such is my point in this thread.

SightseerLounge

June 06, 2010, 07:06:46 PM
Personally, I would want one type of rail on the system, but anything is better than nothing! I'll ride!

There is no such thing as "one size fits all" with mass transit.   Transit modes should be used that complement and integrate the best with whatever corridor or environment their designed to serve.  In Jax, this could mean that the skyway serves downtown while a streetcar is more suitable for Riverside/Avondale, commuter rail for Orange Park and BRT for Regency.  As long as the agency running the services can make seamless transferring a possibility, multiple modes aren't a problem.

They still complain, in some places in NYC, that there aren't enough transfers to all of the systems that are currently available. Lakelander, I agree that there isn't that "one size fits all" system! I would love something like Miami to be here in Jacksonville. The Skyway has its purpose. The rest of the potential system isn't built yet. A streetcar would be perfect for some areas in town!.

I would love to ride to St. John's Town Center from, say, Wesconnett. It would probably take a while, but the system would be there. As for the social part, the people just have to be awakened. If the streetcars would have been left in some of the places that they were located, maybe the visual of "streetcar" would be in peoples heads!

People would feel weird riding, and the mental aspect (culture) of riding would be there!

Streetcars and Skyways...There is a positive thing that I like about the skyway! I remember being at Kinkos downtown and the Skyway passed. All that I could remember thinking was, "That thing is much quieter than those els in NYC and Philly!"

If the streetcars didn't interrupt the car culture (at first), and they were efficient (and somewhat quiet), then, they could be of use!

AaroniusLives

June 07, 2010, 01:28:06 PM
Quote
I would love something like Miami to be here in Jacksonville.

As a former Miamian (born and raised,) you do not want to emulate the Miami model for transit whatsoever. The Miami "MetroFail" is poorly used, poorly maintained, and massive corruption has resulted in the line not running to either the beach or the airport.

The "People's Transportation Plan" has resulted in a lot of tax money gone "missing" and a mere, teeny-tiny link line to the airport (sort of.) And by tax money I mean billions.

The Miami Metromover, or the Miami version of the SkyWay, basically encourages people not to walk two to three blocks on actual urban streets. I went to a magnet high school in downtown Miami...the Metromover doesn't really add much to the mix, beyond the fugly pylons that hold it up. I'll give it this: it's the cheapest tourist attraction in all of Florida.

All of this corruption has resulted in a metropolitan area that needs mass transit (they are well past the tipping point for density and development,) but won't get the mass transit they need. It took 20 years for the voters to get over the MetroFail. It will take another 20 to get over the People's Transportation Plan.

Oy. Never wish for a transit system like MIAMI'S! ? ! ? !


Actually, the county I'd watch down there would be Broward. The county is generally well-run, fiscally conservative, and slowly realizing the need for better, more effective mass transit. I suspect that they'll go with a BRT system, but at least it will run to the damned airport and beach! 

stjr

June 07, 2010, 05:54:21 PM
The Miami Metromover, or the Miami version of the SkyWay, basically encourages people not to walk two to three blocks on actual urban streets. I went to a magnet high school in downtown Miami...the Metromover doesn't really add much to the mix, beyond the fugly pylons that hold it up. I'll give it this: it's the cheapest tourist attraction in all of Florida.

Aaronius, I'd swear I've heard that same talk in some quarters about our Skyway.  But, some here say the concept is a Jax problem, not a people mover problem.  Lake thinks the Metromover is a success (even though the ridership numbers are a pittance, given Miami's population, and they are riding it for free).  Also, not sure what the Miami system was projected to carry versus actual since no one has answered that question yet.


CS Foltz

June 07, 2010, 05:59:04 PM
Heads up there stjr..................I expect tufsu to weigh in on this one! I await with baited breath to see how this is going to be spun!

tufsu1

June 08, 2010, 08:51:39 AM
yes I wil weigh in

stjr is constantly providing a moving target....what does ridership compared to metro. pop. have to do w/ anything? 

I ask because you say streetcars are the way to go here in Jax....but my guess is a 10 mile system that covers Riverside-Downtown-Stadium-Springfield would still average no more than 20,000 riders a day...so if ridership is a major factor, why would $100 million for streetcars be "more successful" than $100 million spent at the I-95/JTB interchange (with over 200,000 vehicles per day)?

thelakelander

June 08, 2010, 09:33:34 AM
A streetcar system connecting these neighborhoods would be lucky to average 10k a day.  Yet ridership isn't the most important element with mass transit, imo. The true benefit would come in the creation of a sustainable urban core and the building of an urban living alternative that doesn't exist in our sprawling city today.

tufsu1

June 08, 2010, 09:58:57 AM
I agree Lake...juts curious what STJR and CS think are most important?

stjr

June 08, 2010, 10:26:10 AM
I agree Lake...juts curious what STJR and CS think are most important?

Tufsu, it is cost/benefit or in, plain English, "bang for the buck".  Priorities should be set accordingly.

Your $100 million comparison is wrong.  The streetcar price is for a new system including both the pathway AND the passenger vehicles.  The JTB interchange is a tiny slice of a much bigger system to which it is adding to and EXCLUDES the passenger vehicles.  You also need to allocate some of the hundreds of millions (billions?) spent on building JTB and a few miles on I-95 that necessitate the need for the interchange.

Once you have a more accurate comparison of costs, weight them against the relative passenger miles.  By example, 20,000 people going 2 miles on a streetcar = 40,000 passenger miles.  200,000 people going in an interchange loop, say 0.2 forward miles, is an equal 40,000 passenger miles.

We haven't even considered other "costs" to society such as energy, environmental, collateral development, infrastructure, commute times, and quality of life.

Tufsu, your simplistic analysis is why we have so many roads and so little mass transit and bespeaks what one expects from a road builder.

CS Foltz

June 08, 2010, 10:37:36 AM
I could not have said it better stjr! Rider miles and Ridership miles are two different categories, but I don't speak "Consulting"! I speak in plain language or black and white............quite a bit of difference between the two for sure! Rail would give the taxpayer more bang for the mile, the operating cost and the spin off infrastructure is something that is measureable looking at other rail systems and the spinoffs that took place!

AaroniusLives

June 08, 2010, 11:07:29 AM
The Miami Metromover, or the Miami version of the SkyWay, basically encourages people not to walk two to three blocks on actual urban streets. I went to a magnet high school in downtown Miami...the Metromover doesn't really add much to the mix, beyond the fugly pylons that hold it up. I'll give it this: it's the cheapest tourist attraction in all of Florida.

Aaronius, I'd swear I've heard that same talk in some quarters about our Skyway.  But, some here say the concept is a Jax problem, not a people mover problem.  Lake thinks the Metromover is a success (even though the ridership numbers are a pittance, given Miami's population, and they are riding it for free).  Also, not sure what the Miami system was projected to carry versus actual since no one has answered that question yet.




As a "horizontal elevator" in Downtown Miami, the Metromover is effective at moving commuters and residents around the area with minimal street contact. (And, as said in my earlier post, it's a great, cheap tourist attraction.) When it was initially built, the Metromover was a great incentive for employers to locate in vanity office buildings downtown, "Your employees never have to leave the air conditioned comfort!"

However, if one looks at a http://www.miamidade.gov/transit/mover_stations.asp map of the Metromover, it's pretty bonkers. Stations are 2-3 blocks apart. For real? Is that not the perfect distance for walking?

The Skyway at least spreads out their stations a bit.

The shared problem both the Skyway and the Metromover have is that they don't connect to comprehensive transit systems. Meaning that it's possible, but not preferable, to live and work in Miami-Dade or Metro Jacksonville without a car.

thelakelander

June 08, 2010, 11:50:27 AM
^I agree.  These systems really don't work well without being a part of a comprehensive transit system.  Until Jacksonville has a comprehensive transit system, the skyway will continue to struggle regardless of where it is extended within downtown.

Ocklawaha

June 08, 2010, 02:04:42 PM
I could not have said it better stjr! Rider miles and Ridership miles are two different categories, but I don't speak "Consulting"! I speak in plain language or black and white............quite a bit of difference between the two for sure!

Funny boyz, this is the exact same thing JTA tried to get across a few months back only to have the TU and many on this site loose their minds about "DOUBLE NUMBERS" "TWO SETS OF BOOKS" etc...   Bull Shit! Just two ways of getting answers.

Rail does influence urban growth, even monorails, our own Omni and Wachovia Bank complex are where they are because of the Skyway! Don't believe me? Check the record and give credit to the little scoot.



OCKLAWAHA

tufsu1

June 08, 2010, 04:42:04 PM
Once you have a more accurate comparison of costs, weight them against the relative passenger miles.  By example, 20,000 people going 2 miles on a streetcar = 40,000 passenger miles.  200,000 people going in an interchange loop, say 0.2 forward miles, is an equal 40,000 passenger miles.

Tufsu, your simplistic analysis is why we have so many roads and so little mass transit and bespeaks what one expects from a road builder.[/b]

talk about funny numbers...wow!

the reality stjr is that I understand and appreciate the value of a comprehensive regional mobility system...in terms of roads and transit, think of it this way....

Roads = Freeways, Arterials, Collectors, local Streets
Transit = Intercity service (commuter rail and Amtrak), intracity service (BRT and light rail), community service (local bus and streetcar), and finally local service (downtown trolleys, community shuttles, skyway, etc.)

Now, sure the I-95/JTB interchange is only a small part of a larger system that serves the whole metro area....but the same could/should be said about the streetcar....building a full regional transit infrastructure for our region is likely to cost upwards of $2 Billion (not including operations)....if the entire system (commuter rail, BRT, streetcars, and local bus) gets 100,000 riders, would that qualify as "bang for the buck" to you?  

stjr

June 08, 2010, 05:30:59 PM
Now, sure the I-95/JTB interchange is only a small part of a larger system that serves the whole metro area....but the same could/should be said about the streetcar....building a full regional transit infrastructure for our region is likely to cost upwards of $2 Billion (not including operations)....if the entire system (commuter rail, BRT, streetcars, and local bus) gets 100,000 riders, would that qualify as "bang for the buck" to you? 

Tufsu, I can only answer intuitively at this point.  Common sense tells me that a shared mode of transit (i.e. mass transit) should, for most any distance, be the most efficient and beneficial system to use.  If, as I said, all the costs versus all the benefits were properly accounted for, I fully expect streetcars to come out on top every time in giving "bang for the buck" over the same money spent on a road project.  That $2 billion regional mass transit system you spelled out would appear to be a far better use of $2 billion than spending it on urban sprawl promoters like the Outer Beltway, 9B, and JTB/I-95.  Yet, we are building the roads, not the mass transit at present.

CS Foltz

June 08, 2010, 06:34:08 PM
$kyway in its present form is nothing but a drain on resources. I believe in an intermodal system of mass transit, of which the Skyway could be one part of, but the balance appears to be more and more roads! Not to mention bus's, without shelters mind you, and the next phase of bus's appears to be "BRT" in its splendor! Lets pollute more if we possibly can, so I have to ask.............where is the rail? If like you say tufsu you "value a comprehensive regional mobility system" then why hasn't rail been discussed or planned for to this date? I want more bang for my tax dollar and more roads ain't it! We have too many roads ill planned as they are, at this point in time! So many studies and committee's and consulting firms have been used to today and we have nothing to show for it yet...............kinda like the One Billion plus that has been spent on downtown over the last 20 year.............have nothing to show for that either do we?

tufsu1

June 08, 2010, 09:01:21 PM
Common sense tells me that a shared mode of transit (i.e. mass transit) should, for most any distance, be the most efficient and beneficial system to use.  

I agree...which is why the Skyway isn't such a bad deal after all  :)

tufsu1

June 08, 2010, 09:04:32 PM
I believe in an intermodal system of mass transit, of which the Skyway could be one part of, but the balance appears to be more and more roads! Not to mention bus's, without shelters mind you, and the next phase of bus's appears to be "BRT" in its splendor! Lets pollute more if we possibly can, so I have to ask.............where is the rail? If like you say tufsu you "value a comprehensive regional mobility system" then why hasn't rail been discussed or planned for to this date?

HOLY CRAP!..rail hasn't been discussed?  

Just what do you think this forum has been doing for almost 5 years?  What do you think is included in the North Florida TPO LRTP?  What about the JTA Commuter Rail and Streetcar Feasibility studies?

btw...please don't criticize buses without shelters...you refuse to endorse the conept of allowing advertising so more shelters can be built!

tufsu1

June 08, 2010, 09:12:34 PM
kinda like the One Billion plus that has been spent on downtown over the last 20 year.............have nothing to show for that either do we?

btw...I think the folks who frequent the new library, arena, and baeball stadium would disagree!

stjr

June 08, 2010, 09:26:03 PM
Common sense tells me that a shared mode of transit (i.e. mass transit) should, for most any distance, be the most efficient and beneficial system to use. 

I agree...which is why the Skyway isn't such a bad deal after all  :)

Yep, the Skyway may be better than cars.  However, that is not where my beef with it is.  It is with how it fails to compare with other MASS TRANSIT modes for usefulness and cost effectiveness.  Once again, Tufsu, any mass transit money we spend should be "anywhere but" for this reason.

Ocklawaha

June 09, 2010, 12:03:20 AM
Monday at 5-6 pm on the "unused?" Skyway:















ANY QUESTIONS?


OCKLAWAHA



stjr

June 09, 2010, 12:27:43 AM
Ock, I am just "overwhelmed"  ;D  If I didn't know better, I would think this was a big city transit system - not!  Most people I counted in anyone picture was maybe 16 people.  Wow!  A Skyway record?

At the last reported 1,700 passengers a day, if most of the traffic fell around morning and evening "rush" hours and a few at lunch time, you would be looking at about 300 riders during such hours.  If the Skyway train came by 8 times an hour, that would be about 37 riders (I am giving you 100+% extra credit here versus the pictures) per train which is about the max capacity for the Skyway trains as currently configured.  Given you were at the "Central" station, per your pictures, and the way the Skyway routes work, nearly all Skyway riders must go through this one station.  This all adds up to the "crowded" (a term I find debatable for this purpose) look in your pictures.

If the Skyway is "crowded" with these few passengers, you are just supporting my point that the platforms  and system are unlikely to handle much more if people really did want to use it in any numbers.  (Imagine these pictures with triple the number of people pictured or about 50 on the platform?  Or six times the people, about 100? This is what I estimated at the Jazz Fest conclusion and it was pushing the limits.  6 times 1,700 would represent a little over 10,000 daily riders, or 1/3 of the projections for the existing system.)

By the way, I wonder what the other "non-Central" stations looked like?

I suggest you send these pix to JTA for use in their next Skyway funding request.  I am sure others will be as "overwhelmed" as I am.

SightseerLounge

June 09, 2010, 12:40:36 AM
Monday at 5-6 pm on the "unused?" Skyway:

ANY QUESTIONS?

Yes, how do you find this stuff. I like seeing it come to life?

Can we get a Disney style monorail in the suburbs!? (Billions, upon Billions, of dollars! Just Playing!)
At least, can we get the 3, 4, or 6 car model that the UM III was built to handle!

Will the streetcar be needed if the skyway were built to Riverside, the Stadium, etc.? (Will the city justify another thousand years of no other transit but bus!?)

Bonus: (Personal stab at the Jaguars) If the Jaguars can, I don't know, win a game, would that finally get the city to build either a streetcar, or skyway down to the stadium!

Talleyrand?

A "test" commuter system should have been put in during the Super Bowl and Jacksonville would have some interesting numbers on how to deal with all of this!

sjtr would you suggest to "tear the sucker down," or convert it to light rail!?

Keith-N-Jax

June 09, 2010, 12:56:10 AM
Way to go OCK,prove em wrong,, :) I'm havin fun.

fsujax

June 09, 2010, 08:14:18 AM
Good pictures Ock....some people will continue to whine....pictures of people using the system will not shut them up. It's too many, it's too few, the alarm is too loud...blah, blah, blah....it will always be something.

fieldafm

June 09, 2010, 11:13:42 AM
The blonde girl in the third pic is hot... Ock, did you happen to get her number for me?

fieldafm

June 09, 2010, 11:15:56 AM


If the Skyway is "crowded" with these few passengers, you are just supporting my point that the platforms  and system are unlikely to handle much more if people really did want to use it in any numbers.  (Imagine these pictures with triple the number of people pictured or about 50 on the platform?  Or six times the people, about 100? This is what I estimated at the Jazz Fest conclusion and it was pushing the limits.  6 times 1,700 would represent a little over 10,000 daily riders, or 1/3 of the projections for the existing system.)


The skyway had huge ridership during the Super Bowl, so it has been shown to handle much more than the present ridership numbers.

AaroniusLives

June 09, 2010, 11:29:21 AM
Quote
Good pictures Ock....some people will continue to whine....pictures of people using the system will not shut them up. It's too many, it's too few, the alarm is too loud...blah, blah, blah....it will always be something.

If anything, the pictures Ocklawaha posted prove that stjr is entirely correct in his or her belief that the Skyway doesn't attract enough riders and is a huge white elephant. I mean, that's rush hour. Being generous, there are, at most, 60 people combined on the train and at the station (and that's being really, really, absurdly generous.)  At rush hour.

APTA's most recent report pegs the ridership at 1,200 daily boardings. That's pathetic. Hysterically, the photo op demonstrates just how pathetic it all is.

Having said that, the Skyway is there. You built it, you bought it. The question remains how to make the SKyway a part of a viable, multi-modal transit system. The challenge remains how to convince a city/county/clustermuck of drivers, in a city/county/clustermuck of drivers to have the vision and the political will to implement this viable, multi-modal transit system. Finally, the challenge is to develop high-density, pedestrian-friendly, ecologically sustainable communities at each mode of this multi-modal transit system. Because if you tear down the train that goes nowhere, and replace it with a streetcar that goes nowhere, you still have a pathetic transit system that nobody uses.

This extends to the overall transit system itself: if the whole damned metro area is geared towards cars, and you build a transit system, while not changing the car-centric development of the metro area, you now have a failed transit system.

I'm totally a transit advocate. I don't own a car, and purposefully moved to a place where I don't need a car to lead a 1st-class life as an American citizen. But I'm also a former resident of FloriDUHhhhh, specifically Miami. And despite the population densities, the endless traffic and the rest, it's gonna take a lot of convincing to convince FloriDUHhhhhians in South Florida and the rest of the state to get out of their cars. We, the people, will plug them in, run them on pig feces...ANYTHING to continue to drive-in and drive on. The only way to at least create an alternative is to be sure that the transit system and the building codes are in sync...and that the transit goes from somewhere to somewhere else...and at both ends, you don't need to deal with a car. Period.

fsujax

June 09, 2010, 01:20:28 PM
Well, Nashville's commuter rail train averages less than 800 riders a day! just sayin....it could be worse for the Skyway. At least people are using it. Until we have a COMPLETED system, the Skyway will remain under utilized.

AaroniusLives

June 09, 2010, 02:05:31 PM
Quote
Well, Nashville's commuter rail train averages less than 800 riders a day! just sayin....it could be worse for the Skyway. At least people are using it. Until we have a COMPLETED system, the Skyway will remain under utilized.

That's an apples to oranges comparison. Nashville's line required minimal investment, using existing tracks and "used trains." The Skyway required entirely new tracks (twice now), and new technology investment in APM. That's a much higher investment in cost. The Skyway is older, with declining ridership. The Nashville line is new, with increasing ridership. Finally, one is a downtown circulator and the other is a commuter train.

Perhaps a more apt comparison would be with the Detroit People Mover. Both systems have comparable technologies and investments, both are near the same length (2.5-2.9 miles,) both operate in the same environments (downtowns) and both are attempting to serve the same purpose (CBD circulation.)

Mind you, the Detroit People Mover's numbers are still pathetic: 6100 people. This from a system that was initially projected to handle nearly 68,000 riders per day. That's still way, way more than the Skyway.

Closer to home, you have the Miami Metromover. While I think it has far too many stations, it still has some use in Downtown Miami, Brickell and Omni. To be fair, Miami's APM has 4.4 miles of track, so it's a much more comprehensive system that the Skyway. It's connected to the Metrorail. It's also completely free, which has to goose usage up. Nonetheless, it has 30,250 daily riders. You could divide the numbers in half to approximate the track length of the Skyway and you still have more than 15,000 riders on the Miami Metromover. (Oh, and both the Metrorail and the Metromover are massive failures, nowhere near meeting their initial ridership projections.)

The Skyway is a huge failure. Massive. Stinking. Pile of failure. Because of the automated people moving technology associated with it, it's also a costly failure.

However, any other cheaper, more proven technology used in place of the Skyway will still fail without a comprehensive mass transit system to compliment it. If the Skyway were a streetcar, busway, light rail or whatever,  it would have been cheaper to build and operate, but it wouldn't have the ridership because there's no mass transit system to support it. Moreover, without dense development around the nodes of this mass transit system, ridership will still be low, because it's easier to get around a car utopia with a damned car. 

CS Foltz

June 09, 2010, 06:06:11 PM
kinda like the One Billion plus that has been spent on downtown over the last 20 year.............have nothing to show for that either do we?

btw...I think the folks who frequent the new library, arena, and baeball stadium would disagree!
I can not argue with that view, but would have to point out just how many empty bldgs, moved or failed stores and arena and baseball stadium that is not used year round? Skyway has potential but in its current state and with the total numbers of riders hovering around 1,700 perday......this is cost effective and efficient mass transit? Seven Million Dollars a year to operate and what does it serve, one side of the river to the other side with several stops inbetween...........when downtown dries up and blows away, who is going to ride it then? Oh I know............Courthouse persons right?

thelakelander

June 09, 2010, 06:27:58 PM
I thought it was $4 million to operate when it was running seven days a week and averaging over 3,000 riders a day?  Since its down to five days and reduced hours during those days, the cost to maintain must have dropped.  Does anyone know what the new numbers are?  

CS Foltz

June 09, 2010, 08:08:27 PM
lake............I am getting confused! Figures that were posted here was $7 Million for one years operation and ridership was at 1,700? I don't remember anytime that 3k used it on a daily basis.........so I have to ask how did you come up with the 4 Million to run and how long ago was 3k riding?

tufsu1

June 09, 2010, 09:15:48 PM
ridership of 3,000 per day was as recent as 2007...ridership nosedived when AT&T took over Bellsouth and moved many employees out of downtown

stjr

June 09, 2010, 10:20:21 PM
I thought it was $4 million to operate when it was running seven days a week and averaging over 3,000 riders a day?  Since its down to five days and reduced hours during those days, the cost to maintain must have dropped.

Sorry, Lake, the losses haven't declined, they have increased after 2 years of "stability".  $4 million is the amount of Skyway cash losses in the year 2007 with total operating losses after depreciation of about $12 million.  JTA feeds the eager press, who makes the mistake of not questioning JTA info, the $4 million cash number.  Tufsu likes cash only, too, but GAAP and IRS accounting is to include the depreciation because that represents the wasting away of the up front cash capital investment in the system over time and which, if it continues, will have to be replenished by new capital expenditures paid in cash.

Back in 2006, the Skyway lost a bit over $5 million cash and had total operating losses of almost $13 million after depreciation.  

JTA's financial statements for the period ending 9/2007 show the Skyway lost about $6 million in cash and had a total operating loss of $14 million after depreciation.

Operating revenues have hovered around half a million for those three years and the portion from passengers has hung around the low $300,000.


Quote
Does anyone know what the new numbers are?
I would help you out here, Lake, but after 9 months, JTA has yet to post its September, 2009, financials on its web site.  I raised the question of where these were a few days ago and no one could say.  Maybe you can remind JTA they are overdue.

See the available financials for yourself: http://www.jtafla.com/AboutJTA/showPage.aspx?Sel=32

stjr

June 09, 2010, 10:46:35 PM
APTA's most recent report pegs the ridership at 1,200 daily boardings. That's pathetic.

Aaronius, thanks for pointing out the just released first quarter, 2010, numbers. DOWN to 1,200 passengers per weekday from 1,700 last quarter, a 29% decrease. This is also a 7% decrease over last year's first quarter.

Let's redo some math:

$14 million/600 daily round trip riders = $23,333 per rider SUBSIDY by taxpayers per year.  That is a truly amazing subsidy number and way beyond what anyone should find acceptable, even by mass transit standards.

Here is another amazing number, the subsidy per Skyway trip:

106,500 trips in first quarter, 2010, times 4 quarters/year = 426,000 trips per year. 
$14 million/426,000 trips/year = $32.86 per trip SUBSIDY by taxpayers!

Do you think this is why JTA isn't in a hurry to post the latest financials?

stephendare

June 09, 2010, 10:47:21 PM
seriously?  Why is a streetcar thread the platform for yet another screed about the skyway?

Having every thread about transit get hijacked into skyway discussion is getting tiresome.

STJR.  Other than the experience that you described at the Jazz Festival, what mass transit do you use?  What do you use it for and where do you travel from and to?

stjr

June 09, 2010, 11:27:32 PM
seriously?  Why is a streetcar thread the platform for yet another screed about the skyway?

Not sure if you are directing this at me, Stephen, but... if you review the thread you will see this discussion has had participation by lots of posters.  I just respond as I see fit.


Quote
Having every thread about transit get hijacked into skyway discussion is getting tiresome.
Stephen, why so grumpy? It's a discussion thread.  And, the Skyway's fate is intertwined with streetcars so it seems inevitable that it would show up here.

Believe me, I, too, weary of having to restate my points over and over and have frequently tried to steer posters to existing threads to avoid rehashes.  See this quote on post #29 to Mattius on this very thread:

Quote
Mattius, everyone of your points has been discussed thoroughly prior to your arrival here.  I ask that you refer to the top Skyway threads in this forum for all the sides to your points.

I didn't see you jump in and support my comment there.  Why not?  Where were you when Ock posted all his Skyway pictures above and implied the Skyway was pulling in major traffic in rush hour?

It seems some posters believe the Skyway is the solution to all our mass transit problems and I just can't let that go unchallenged if they persist.  Why don't you intervene when proponents speak up, not just opponents?  That would be "fair and balanced".

We often agree and share passion for many items discussed.  However, when we differ, a little tolerance of opinions differing from yours, Stephen, would be appreciated.  Creating an excessively  "hostile" environment for dissenters with you is not healthy for MJ and doesn't promote tolerance of your viewpoints by those who might disagree with you.


Quote
STJR.  Other than the experience that you described at the Jazz Festival, what mass transit do you use?  What do you use it for and where do you travel from and to?
I have ridden buses, subways, commuter rail, our famous Skyway, trolleys, and Amtrak trains and inter-city service in various cities around the country.  Living in Jax, "regular" use is not realistic as you well know.

Care to share your experiences, Stephen?

Ocklawaha

June 10, 2010, 01:00:56 AM
The blonde girl in the third pic is hot... Ock, did you happen to get her number for me?

You might note that both she and the gal behind her (waving) were quite friendly with the dirty old man taking their photo.  HA HA!

The natives ARE VERY friendly here...


OCKLAWAHA   ;D

SightseerLounge

June 10, 2010, 01:01:44 AM
I guess that everyone can, at least, partly agree that the Skyway is failing because there isn't any other system connecting to take people out to other parts of town!

There aren't even busses in every part of town! Tax dollars, Better Jacksonville Plan, Subsidies can all be used in better ways, but that hasn't been done lately!

Someone always has to get their pockets filled before work for the people can be done!

Maybe, the streetcar will be built in a Miami fashion: Going to the badlands to stop anyone from wanting to ride it.

Maybe, the streetcar will be Amtrak style!

I'll just hope all of the politicans and planners will make a mistake and build the streetcar in peoples favor!

Like the Acela, for now, the City of Jacksonville will just have to get something on the rails.

It can't just be "cut off" like the Skyway!

Maybe, people just want to see a streetcar like the other cities have.

Of course, some people would want the streetcar to come to their front door.

The streetcars were supposed to be rebuilt a long time ago anyway!

Maybe, downtown isn't the answer right now. The people might be looking in the wrong place to start the streetcar!

Downtown might come later in the system.

People are away from the center of town for the most part!

There's a lot of passion for the streetcars and the Skyway. There's either love, or hate, for them. (Especially the Skyway!)

Hopefully, Jacksonville's transit system can be "successful," and help people get to where they have to go in a reasonable amount of time. That's what it is about.

Ocklawaha

June 10, 2010, 01:54:05 AM
Quote
Good pictures Ock....some people will continue to whine....pictures of people using the system will not shut them up. It's too many, it's too few, the alarm is too loud...blah, blah, blah....it will always be something.

If anything, the pictures Ocklawaha posted prove that stjr is entirely correct in his or her belief that the Skyway doesn't attract enough riders and is a huge white elephant. I mean, that's rush hour. Being generous, there are, at most, 60 people combined on the train and at the station (and that's being really, really, absurdly generous.)  At rush hour.

Actually STJR is building his case on a few still photos, with a limited field of vision, taken within 2 minutes of each other. Each train car holds just over 20 persons and they were full, uncomfortably full with no seats available. What STJR couldn't know is that on the evening I took the shots the Kings Avenue-Central-Rosa Parks trains were running through end to end as they SHOULD every day, what's more is that they were running on 3 minute headways. For whatever reasons they were NEVER more then 5 minutes apart and I didn't note any being more then a few seconds off their "advertised" time. Everything was in perfect working order, even the esclators, but the damn turnstiles were completely useless. So even if his math is correct his numbers are flawed because this wasn't a still life, rather it was fluid, impressively fluid. The people kept coming at about the same pace for a period of around 2 hours from roughly 4:30 pm to 6:30 pm. One of my points being a full 300-500 passengers were in and out of the stations and I don't think a single one paid a fare or was counted by the turnstiles.

In the last 7 trips to the Skyway the turnstiles have been worthless either to fare collection or as counters. These trips spread over the last 3 months and with only one exception all trips in the last 3 years have included something broken at whatever station I was in. Usually this was the escalators, change, turnstiles or fare machines. I'm wondering how many hundred or even thousands of passengers we are missing monthly?  Can anyone else back up my comments with their own experiences? This has got me wondering if the city that runs itself like the "cribs of old Tonopah," is so damn cheap that the incompetence of outright neglect has cost the Skyway thousands of fares or ghosts?  Well the mayor said he'd run the place like a business, but nobody told John Q Citizen, that the business was a $3 dollar whorehouse.


Quote
APTA's most recent report pegs the ridership at 1,200 daily boardings. That's pathetic. Hysterically, the photo op demonstrates just how pathetic it all is.

Having said that, the Skyway is there. You built it, you bought it. The question remains how to make the SKyway a part of a viable, multi-modal transit system. The challenge remains how to convince a city/county/clustermuck of drivers, in a city/county/clustermuck of drivers to have the vision and the political will to implement this viable, multi-modal transit system. Finally, the challenge is to develop high-density, pedestrian-friendly, ecologically sustainable communities at each mode of this multi-modal transit system. Because if you tear down the train that goes nowhere, and replace it with a streetcar that goes nowhere, you still have a pathetic transit system that nobody uses.

Exactly my friend, I would argue that the 1,200 or 3,000 figures are completely false and any physical count of the Skyway's passengers will likely double or triple the ridership numbers. To do such a physical count would also expose the fact that JTA has not maintained the system to even collect or maintain the low reported ridership.
The transit system is really not a system at all until all of the components work together with a harmonious synergy. The lackluster planning that has gone on in our city over the last 65 years accounts for much of the problems. Development doesn't drive transit - TRANSIT DRIVES DEVELOPMENT. The TOD's going in around the Transit components of the infamous BIG DIG in BOSTON are staggering in size and will dwarf any previous private investments in Live-Work-Play urban spaces by BILLIONS of dollars.  (...and YES Mike Miller, I do know the Silver line BRT is in the center of all of it, as is the Orange Line LRT, and Commuter Rail, but keep in mind Mike the Silver Line BRT is not the same animal JTA has tried to sell Jax... It's a FIXED ROUTE ELECTRIC TROLLEY BUS).
The Skyway remains a "Pearl" in the center without an oyster. The most valuable part is finished but without a protective hard shell framework, it will NEVER work without the whole oyster, and multi-modal mass transit is that framework creature.


Quote
This extends to the overall transit system itself: if the whole damned metro area is geared towards cars, and you build a transit system, while not changing the car-centric development of the metro area, you now have a failed transit system.

I'm totally a transit advocate. I don't own a car, and purposefully moved to a place where I don't need a car to lead a 1st-class life as an American citizen. But I'm also a former resident of FloriDUHhhhh, specifically Miami. And despite the population densities, the endless traffic and the rest, it's gonna take a lot of convincing to convince FloriDUHhhhhians in South Florida and the rest of the state to get out of their cars. We, the people, will plug them in, run them on pig feces...ANYTHING to continue to drive-in and drive on. The only way to at least create an alternative is to be sure that the transit system and the building codes are in sync...and that the transit goes from somewhere to somewhere else...and at both ends, you don't need to deal with a car. Period.

I-5 and Antelope Valley FREEway interchange after the earthquake. At the bottom of this canyon and a bit to the left of this photo the railroad pop's out of a long tunnel... untouched because quakes seldom do damage below ground level. In 5 minutes time Victorville, Pear Blossom, Apple Valley, Palmdale, Lancaster, Agua Dulce, Canyon Country, Santa Clarita, Valencia, Piru, Fillmore, and many more were left with a choice of taking a 100+ mile around the pass excursion to PCH or Topanga Canyon, or RIDE THE TRAIN.


I don't really see this as much of a problem. Once citizens are exposed to REAL QUALITY MASS TRANSIT their entire world view changes.  When people realize the savings of being able to live with even one less car, it's like an epiphany. I'm sure you all would agree that there is no more car centric place on earth then Los Angeles, but all it took was one earthquake (Northridge 1994) to take down some major FREEway infrastructure, and that forced an emergency move to a commuter rail system. Rail in Southern California could only have gotten off the ground by an act of God.  The emergency shifted commuters to rail with borrowed equipment, to allow movement from the surrounding mountain communities.  These suburban cities were suddenly cut off by the severe highway damage. Metro-Link was born under these horrible circumstances and today represents one of the key components to a new multi-modal system that has been universally embraced.  There is just no excuse why (baring an earthquake of our own) that Jacksonville, Miami, Atlanta or anywhere else can't get this same result with a little resolve. Hopefully we won't even have to bother God.



OCKLAWAHA

stephendare

June 10, 2010, 02:29:14 AM
seriously?  Why is a streetcar thread the platform for yet another screed about the skyway?

Not sure if you are directing this at me, Stephen, but... if you review the thread you will see this discussion has had participation by lots of posters.  I just respond as I see fit.


Quote
Having every thread about transit get hijacked into skyway discussion is getting tiresome.
Stephen, why so grumpy? It's a discussion thread.  And, the Skyway's fate is intertwined with streetcars so it seems inevitable that it would show up here.

Believe me, I, too, weary of having to restate my points over and over and have frequently tried to steer posters to existing threads to avoid rehashes.  See this quote on post #29 to Mattius on this very thread:

Quote
Mattius, everyone of your points has been discussed thoroughly prior to your arrival here.  I ask that you refer to the top Skyway threads in this forum for all the sides to your points.

I didn't see you jump in and support my comment there.  Why not?  Where were you when Ock posted all his Skyway pictures above and implied the Skyway was pulling in major traffic in rush hour?

It seems some posters believe the Skyway is the solution to all our mass transit problems and I just can't let that go unchallenged if they persist.  Why don't you intervene when proponents speak up, not just opponents?  That would be "fair and balanced".

We often agree and share passion for many items discussed.  However, when we differ, a little tolerance of opinions differing from yours, Stephen, would be appreciated.  Creating an excessively  "hostile" environment for dissenters with you is not healthy for MJ and doesn't promote tolerance of your viewpoints by those who might disagree with you.


Quote
STJR.  Other than the experience that you described at the Jazz Festival, what mass transit do you use?  What do you use it for and where do you travel from and to?
I have ridden buses, subways, commuter rail, our famous Skyway, trolleys, and Amtrak trains and inter-city service in various cities around the country.  Living in Jax, "regular" use is not realistic as you well know.

Care to share your experiences, Stephen?


So you do not use Jacksonville transit?  So this discussion is pretty much theoretical then?  Like you have some ideas, and some theories, but not much actual practical experiences in this city using the system?  

I wonder.  Do you plan on using any of this transit whereof you speak?

Or is it just an elegaic topic for you, one whose outcome really only affects your sense of general aesthetics?

For example, it really doesnt matter one way or another in your personal experience whether or not there is any effective mass transit in this city for another 30 years, as long as they do not utilize a system which seemed expensive to deploy to you in the late 80s, early 90s, correct?

As for me, I decided that I should have the courage of my convictions about two years ago and stopped maintaining a car in town.  I do not buy gasoline, I pared my electrical usage down to a bare minimum, I cut beef out of my diet, and I live in a walkable community in which I use public transit for my daily needs, or share rides with friends.  

When my business took me to south florida, I travelled by Amtrak several times a week, and I chose a profession which requires only that I consume the energy that it takes to power a laptop.

I do this for reasons rooted deeply in the Republican philosophy of my early life:  Conservation, national security, and personal stewardship for a planet which is sick from our arrogant overconsumption.

It is vastly more frugal to use public transit than to purchase, maintain, and insure what amounts to a small fleet of cars during the course of my life, and I calculated that so far I have had a couple of hundred thousand dollars more of money to use over the past 25 years than my friends who purchased lexus's, oldsmobiles, sportscars, bmw's volvos, mercedes, toyotas, dodges, and ford vehicles for themselves, their spouses, and for the past decade or so, their children.

I have used that money for other purposes, and I have been blessed as a result of the freedom that this decision has given me financially.

I hope that any personal arrogance that I am faulted for does not extend to the notion that I am entitled to tax the shit out of my neighbors at federal and state gunpoint for the flimsy purpose of building yet another road out into some developers personal get rich quick scheme so that I can go swoon in the faux magnificance of homes slapped together with paper, plywood, tar, and the luxuries of chinese drywall.  It would shame me to feel that my own sense of importance was so grand that I would rather take tax money from charities, science research, education,  and medical treatment facilities than simply live in an historic home or district.  I do not so fanatically believe that my own sense of aesthetics are important enough to take someone else's paycheck in order to subsidize the usage of the aforementioned fleet of cars made necessary by my quaint sprawl based choices.

It makes me cringe to hear you talk about the expense of mass transit while you are apparently numb to the giant sucking sound of billions of dollars of tax payer money to subsidize your own car usage, STJR.  I don't mean to wax holy on this subject, but in my hard nosed scottish viewpoint on the financial reality of our current system, the entire cost of the project that has you wetting your panties on a regular basis is literally less than the money it took to build and maintain JT Butler Boulevard.  And keep in mind that JTB is a b]single [/b]road in a sprawling location that builds and maintains more than a thousand public roads.  The financing for these projects is so massive that it requires funds from three separate governments in order to support it.  The Consolidated City of Jacksonville, The Florida Department of Transportation, and the vast Federal taxation system must vomit millions of dollars a day just in order to maintain a system that would crumble of its own shoddy and poisoned material construction in just a few years unless it were washed daily with this golden vomit.

This nauseating furnace of tax dollars however doesnt seem to bother you in the slightest.  Apparently you are so compelled to strain at the splinter in the eye of the JTA that the monorail represents that you are content to have a beam sized blind spot in your own sense of outrage when it comes to the trillion dollar subsidies that the American People must pay for your privilege to drive around your little dollar burner from Japan with whatever reckless impunity as might please you.

You do not use transit.

What about those of us who do not choose to indulge in your chimerical automobile habit?

Though we go without a working transit system that reflects our more conservative and green financial and life choices, I suppose we should all just be content that at the very least, your outraged sensibilities can be retroactively discussed instead of a plan to provide something of value for our own tax dollars.

You asked for my own experiences with Mass Transit, and here are a few links:


http://www.metrojacksonville.com/forum/index.php/topic,2629.0.html
http://www.metrojacksonville.com/forum/index.php/topic,2953.0.html
http://www.metrojacksonville.com/article/2009-jul-long-days-journey-into-plight-stephen-dare-goes-jta-
http://www.metrojacksonville.com/article/2009-jul-long-days-journey-into-plight-stephen-dare-jta-2
http://www.metrojacksonville.com/article/2009-may-everyone-is-knocking-at-jta-but-no-one-is-home

If you simply do not plan to ever use mass transit, from whence comes your sense of urgency?

What is important enough about it that tens of thousands of your fellow citizens must face financial choices which dwarf the cost of the SkyWay?

There are those of us who would like to move forward, put together something that actually works, and just stop rehashing the arguments that have should have been buried beneath the first concrete support of the already built system.

I would challenge you my friend, to have the courage of your own convictions.  Do not pander to the vagaries of your armchair transit ruminations.

Get out and ride the broken system.  Sit out and sweat with the senior citizens in the blistering florida sun come mid July.  Huddle with the commuters sitting without shelter under the blackened skies this hurricane season.  Sit on a hundred buses caught hopelessly in traffic and listen to your fellow passengers using cellphones to call their employers in an attempt not to get fired for their third 'tardy' in one month.

Do what I did.  Try our system and no other to get around for 30 days in Jacksonville, and then come back and tell us what you have learned.

Its a true challenge, and if you have the character enough and time to take me up on my challenge, I will join you at least one day a week on the journey and compare notes.

What say you, friend STJR?

thelakelander

June 10, 2010, 06:15:45 AM
Ock, great points regarding the turnstiles.  I normally have to jump them as well.  It seems like one of the first things that need to be done is to fix all turnstiles at all stations.

Doctor_K

June 10, 2010, 09:00:11 AM
Ock, great points regarding the turnstiles.  I normally have to jump them as well.  It seems like one of the first things that need to be done is to fix all turnstiles at all stations.

I encourage everyone to go to the JTA website and leave a polite but firm message!  I just did.  Hopefully it doesn't just get ignored.

fieldafm

June 10, 2010, 02:27:03 PM
The blonde girl in the third pic is hot... Ock, did you happen to get her number for me?

You might note that both she and the gal behind her (waving) were quite friendly with the dirty old man taking their photo.  HA HA!

The natives ARE VERY friendly here...


OCKLAWAHA   ;D

I rode the skyway this morning... but alas, did not see her.  Maybe next time.

Oh well, parked at the Kings Ave garage and everything worked fine down there... when I got back on the skyway to go back across the river, the turnstiles at the central station(i believe) were tricky.   

stjr

June 10, 2010, 11:36:25 PM
What say you, friend STJR?

For those that even care, see my response to Stephen's blitzkrieg at his duplicate post of this at Post #10 at: http://www.metrojacksonville.com/forum/index.php/topic,8772.msg157289/topicseen.html#new

Bewler

November 12, 2010, 06:10:34 PM
And an abandoned Skyway actually could have at least one use that would salvage a good part of our investment.  New York City has opened the High Line, an abandoned 100+ year old elevated train platform that runs some 20 to 30 blocks and is now cleverly converted into a version of an elevated "riverwalk" over the streets of New York.  Thousands of people visit it daily.

That's pretty interesting. And have you seen how many people bike/jog the Acosta bridge lately? Imagine if we did the same thing. Though I doubt it would work and would probably look totally ridiculous.

Ocklawaha

November 13, 2010, 09:21:28 AM
Mass transit is MASS INFRASTRUCTURE and the most expensive part of any fixed mass transit system is DOWNTOWN, be it Skyway, Railroad, or BRT. The Skyway is largely DONE DOWNTOWN, and is an effective "streetcar line" that we don't have to build anew. IT'S DONE, as far as punching the hole through the central city, and now it's well past due to make the small investments to extend it to logical transit interchange terminals at each endpoint where it can meet REAL STREETCARS and BRT and CITY BUS and AUTO COMMUTERS and EXPRESS BUS and, and, and...

Quit looking at the Skyway as some sort of orphaned bastard child (as JTA itself has done in the last couple of years) and START seeing it as an included part of a major metro transit system. It doesn't need more then 3 more miles to integrate it with whatever we want to toss it's way. If you REALLY MUST HOWL at it, how about this, the same genius that cooked up our Skyway as "far superior to streetcar" is the same guy who has designed our dysfunctional transportation ranch. BOHICA!


OCKLAWAHA

CS Foltz

November 13, 2010, 12:55:49 PM
Yup..............our taxpayer subsidized JTA hard at work again! $kyway should have been completed to project end not where it stops at now! The full length had a chance, not the shortened version we have now Ock!

Coolyfett

November 13, 2010, 06:16:08 PM
We should have built a line ten years ago from Riverside through Downtown to either Springfield or the Sports District.  Our core could have taken full advantage of the market boom and it would have mitigated a little the down turn in the market.
Our next transit solution should be some kind of fixed rail and connect to more residential areas.

Id rather the Skyway go to these location. Has a better from vehicle veiw & does not get in the way of cars

Coolyfett

November 13, 2010, 06:39:05 PM
^The 1.45 mile High Line in NYC cost something like $50 million to construct.  Excluding the money already invested in the existing skyway system, you could probably add a station on Riverside Avenue, extend the thing to San Marco (Atlantic Blvd.) and the Stadium District for a similar cost.

Wisdom. Its a shame others dont have it.

brainstormer

July 15, 2011, 06:22:10 PM
http://www.jsonline.com/news/milwaukee/125612528.html

It looks like Milwaukee might finally get their streetcars.  I particularly like the part of the article that speaks about the line's close proximity to hotels, office towers, residential units, etc.  The streetcar line will connect up with their newly added on to Inter-modal transportation center.  Obviously Amtrak, Greyhound, Streetcars, etc don't mind sharing one big waiting room.  ;) JTA  Their center is compact and was obviously built to accommodate new modes of transportation in the future.  Good job Milwaukee.

thelakelander

July 15, 2011, 06:50:10 PM
Here's some good info to keep in mind as we plan our own 3.5 mile streetcar starter line between DT and Park & King:

Quote
Milwaukee Common Council leaders Thursday endorsed building a $64.6 million modern streetcar line downtown, a move that brings the city closer than ever before to resolving a public transit debate that has raged for nearly 20 years.

With Thursday's vote, a majority of aldermen have now declared their support for building the 2.1-mile line pushed by Mayor Tom Barrett, indicating it's likely to win council approval July 26 if all aldermen are present and none switch their votes.

The council's Steering & Rules Committee acted despite warnings by city Comptroller W. Martin "Wally" Morics, who urged aldermen to slow down the process, and despite two utilities' fears that the planned route would add tens of millions of dollars in costs and delay the project.

In response, the panel called for the public works commissioner to consult with the council and comptroller to change the route or slice spending if necessary to cap costs at $64.6 million.

Barrett hailed the vote as "a significant step" but added, "We know there remains a lot of work to be done" before the project is complete.

Modern streetcars resemble light rail vehicles. But, like old-fashioned streetcars, they typically run on rails laid in streets, draw power from overhead wires and operate in traffic. Milwaukee's streetcars would run every 10 minutes weekdays, and every 15 minutes in late-night, early-morning and weekend hours, from the lower east side to the downtown Amtrak-Greyhound station, starting in 2014.

The streetcar project would be financed by $54.9 million in long-idle federal transit aid and $9.7 million from a tax-incremental financing district set up for the Cathedral Place mixed-use development. City officials plan to seek federal aid to extend the line to E. Brady St. and to the Pabst Brewery redevelopment, boosting the total project cost to $104.8 million.

Running the streetcars would cost $2.65 million a year under the current plan, rising to $4.89 million if the extensions are added. Barrett wants to pay those costs with fares, parking fees and advertising and sponsorship revenue, a plan that would require separate council approval. Annual ridership is projected at 588,880 by 2015 with the basic route or 1.2 million with the extensions.

With the extensions, the project would create 625 construction jobs and 455 jobs at suppliers, plus 35 operating jobs. Milwaukee Composites President Jeff Kober drew applause by promising to donate the streetcar floors his company could produce.

Barrett first proposed the streetcar line in 2007. Last year, a study committee voted to advance the project into preliminary engineering. Design is now 30% complete.

1. You don't have to follow the FTA New/Small Starts process for a streetcar if you're willing to get innovative with financing.  It seems like the biggest obstacle to overcome is getting an influential individual to provide the leadership.  In Milwaukee's case, it was their Mayor.

2. You don't have to raise taxes for a streetcar for O&M.  A mixture of DT parking fees, fares, advertising and sponsorship revenue is a solution to dedicated funding for annual operations.

3. Whenever you talk transit investment, don't forget to talk about job creation.  Locally, we miss out on directly relating mass transit with economic development and job creation.  TOD aside, Milwaukee's 2-mile streetcar line would create 625 construction jobs, 455 jobs at suppliers and 35 permanent jobs between now and 2014.  That's a great short term economic boost for a city for a project that will also attract TOD and redevelopment in the core in the long term. 

fsujax

July 15, 2011, 07:13:35 PM
Fact number one. Never federalize a project unless you just have to!

thelakelander

February 16, 2012, 02:44:59 PM
I just left the historical society's archives and came across some streetcar information that I found pretty interesting.

The comprehensive plan of the city by George Simon, Jr. in 1931 breaks down streetcar routes by ridership, cars, and neighborhoods by travel time to DT, in addition to a host of other planning related issues we still seem to discuss.

One thing that caught my eye was the population density threshold that was used for streetcar verses bus.  According to the transit specialist at the time, a population of 1,250 residents per square mile was needed for the implementation of a streetcar with 10-15 minute headways.  Anything less than that and the economics worked better for bus service.

Live_Oak

February 16, 2012, 04:50:47 PM
What percentage of people owned a car  in 1931 versus today?

thelakelander

February 16, 2012, 06:06:06 PM
What I posted was just something I came across today that I'd thought I'd share.  However, I don't think the percentage of people owning a car in 1931 vs 2012 really matters.  In reality, there is no magic residential population density number either.  For example, a medical center or mall has zero residents but both tend to be high destinations for transit riders that have systems tying into them.  Instead of focusing on population density, the true focus should be on designing for the desired built environment and the ability to efficiently link major destinations and ridership generators directly with each other at the pedestrian scale level.

Know Growth

February 16, 2012, 09:43:49 PM
Quote from: stephendare


[b
Stephen, why so grumpy?


We often agree and share passion for many items discussed.  However, when we differ, a little tolerance differing from yours, Stephen, would be appreciated.  Creating an excessively  "hostile" environment for
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