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JTA Responds to Skyway Criticism

Facing increased scrutiny from mayoral candidates and the public, JTA releases a statement explaining the current state of the Skyway and welcomes discussion about where to go from here.

Published March 21, 2011 in Transit      56 Comments    Open printer friendly version of this article Print Article





THE JTA SKYWAY AND THE FUTURE OF DOWNTOWN

Why Was the Skyway Constructed?


The Skyway was one of a handful of demonstration people-mover systems awarded substantial grant funding by the Federal Transportation Administration (FTA) in 1985. Funded by FTA, Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT), City of Jacksonville (COJ) and JTA, the total cost of design, construction, vehicles and equipment was approximately $186 million.

Designed by JTA in concert with the city’s master planning of Jacksonville’s downtown core, the Skyway would provide the desired circulation system supportive of a pedestrian friendly urban center. The city’s master plan for downtown at that time was to use the Skyway and other transit modes to link downtown visitors, satellite parking lots and the downtown core. This vision included limited street parking for local businesses and cessation of parking garage construction in the downtown core. The Skyway parking lots alone provide more than 3,000 spaces outside of the downtown core.

Over the years, there has been a major change in downtown core parking policies, as well as a decline in the downtown core employment and lack of development of downtown residential projects. In the mid-eighties the city had projected that 100,000 people would be working in the downtown area by 1990. Today, only about 25,000 people work in the urban core, while downtown office vacancies are over 25percent.  As a consequence of these and other factors, the Skyway has not met its original ridership expectations, leading periodically to calls to terminate Skyway operations.

The Skyway is a major infrastructure investment in our community and careful thought about its future is clearly warranted. JTA welcomes a full and open dialogue, exploring the future of the Skyway and whether the system can play an important role in the much-needed revitalization of downtown Jacksonville.

What are the Benefits of the Skyway?

While it is difficult to evaluate the Skyway in the absence of a comprehensive downtown strategy, certain advantages it offers can be examined and discussed. The elevated structure for the Skyway has the advantage of avoiding vehicular and pedestrian conflicts; however, the fixed guideway nature of the system is “rigid,” making it expensive to adjust to changing circumstances, such as the migration of employment clusters or the development and movement of cultural centers. To address the latter concerns, JTA’s downtown trolley system has been designed to provide transit to areas not directly served by the Skyway.

The Skyway does not reach our urban neighborhoods and does not reach the emerging Riverside business district or the city’s sports complex, which means the ultimate potential of the system has not been realized. These factors compound the noted inconsistency in the city’s downtown parking policy and the steep decline in the downtown workforce and lack of residential population.

What the Skyway does offer is connectivity between the Northbank and Southbank. Because it spans the St. Johns River, the Skyway unites the two areas, making the Southbank an extension of downtown rather than an area "across the river. “In other words, the Skyway’s failure to meet expectations is driven by a combination of factors. Given these advantages and disadvantages does the Skyway have a role to play in the future of downtown?

Community visioning efforts like Reality Check in Northeast Florida, One Bay in Tampa, and How Shall We Grow? in Central Florida all conclude that our current development patterns cannot continue if we are to maintain reasonable mobility and continue to grow while maintaining our quality of life. We must encourage a greater diversity of communities and more compact mixed use and transit oriented development if we are to accommodate the expected growth over the next 50 years. It is imperative that public transportation exist and be strongly tied to our land-use vision for North Florida.

What is JTA Doing to Make the Skyway More Effective?

JTA is pursuing the overall vision of the Skyway to conform to its strengths, which includes elimination of traditional bus traffic in the downtown core by terminating bus routes at the Skyway stations. This will improve pedestrian conditions in the downtown core. In addition, JTA is continuing to pursue transit oriented development at or near Skyway stations. Planned additional development at the Kings Avenue Parking Garage is on hold pending completion of FDOT’s rebuilding of the I-95 Overland Bridge but will start as soon as that project is completed. The planned improvements to serve the residential development in Brooklyn adjacent to the Skyway Operations Center are also on hold due to the downturn in the market; however, that land remains well-positioned for residential development when the market rebounds. Other developable parcels remain along the guideway in the vicinity of stations such as the former JEA Southside Generating Station site and LaVilla. City policies to encourage infill development will increase Skyway ridership.

What are the Costs to Shut Down the Skyway?

Failure to operate (or dismantling) the Skyway is a default under the original grant agreement with FTA. JTA would be required to repay the federal and state government an amount equal to the remaining undepreciated amount of the federal and state grant funding. The final repayment amount would be subject to the determination of FTA, but JTA estimates the amount at approximately $70 million. Some have suggested JTA could seek a waiver from FTA to avoid repaying this amount. JTA believes this would be likely to fail: New Jersey Transit Authority, for example, terminated a federally-funded project, and FTA issued a demand letter ordering the repayment of $271 million within 30 days. Closer to home, when the South Florida Regional Transit Authority indicated that it was reducing service on the Tri-Rail system, FTA stated that it “may demand all federal funds that have been provided to support the project be returned.”

In addition to a high likelihood of required repayment of grant funds, JTA believes that a default under the grant agreement would jeopardize future discretionary federal funding for transportation in Jacksonville. Over the last eight years, JTA has secured almost $160 million in federal-aid discretionary grants for Jacksonville. On an annual basis, these discretionary grants are approximately $20 million. In addition, permanently shutting down the Skyway also would require demolition of the system which would require local funding.

How Much Does the Skyway Cost to Operate?

JTA has seen a variety of outside assertions concerning the operating costs of the Skyway. In fact, the Skyway net operating cost for FY2010 was $3.275 million, a 13.6 percent cost reduction since FY 2008. If JTA were to shut down the Skyway, however, not all of this amount would be saved. The costs of returning traditional bus routes to downtown would be incurred, as well as increased travel time on all impacted routes. These factors, coupled with the FTA concerns, reinforce the JTA position that shutting down the Skyway is not a step to be taken lightly and not until other alternatives have been fully explored.

Almost all transportation (including roads) is subsidized in America. This issue goes beyond the scope of this paper, but JTA notes that public transportation provides a number of important benefits.  Public transportation connects transit-dependent workers to their jobs. This is beneficial to the rider, the employer and the general public. As cities grow and become more congested, mass transit is an important option to roadway expansion which becomes more costly and intrusive to the community at large. Increasing gas prices and compliance with federal air quality requirements also demand a viable public transportation system. There simply is no successful major city in America that does not have a substantial public transportation system.

Where Does the Skyway Go From Here?

The integration of the downtown trolley system and the redesigned bus system have produced a better utilized Skyway and reduced bus operating costs in the current period.  In the future, the Skyway will be an important part of a complete multimodal system. Congressman John Mica, chairman of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, recently commented to the Florida Statewide Passenger Rail Commission on the potential for the Jacksonville Regional Transportation Center (JRTC) to connect the Skyway with other transportation modes, specifically the potential connection with future commuter rail. Chairman Mica also noted the Skyway was 30 years ahead of its time.

Congressman Mica is probably correct, and the Miami Metromover is a case in point. For the first 20 years of its operations, the system was subjected to a considerable amount of criticism. Now, it is considered a significant transit success story – 25 years after it was built. It is an essential part of the region’s overall transit system that includes heavy rail (Metrorail), commuter rail (Tri-Rail) and possibly high speed rail in the future. Similarly, the Portland Streetcar is viewed as a highly successful circulator system. Portland includes a significant fare-free zone; fare collection is not viewed as a key indicator of success because it helps support the overall transit system.

JTA understands the frustration with the Skyway system, and generally shares in those frustrations. Careful consideration should be paid to the costs and benefits of all Skyway alternatives. Re-positioning the Skyway to serve as a catalyst for continued downtown revitalization certainly warrants consideration if Jacksonville is serious about its urban core.  JTA acknowledges the challenges of its position, and welcomes the public debate and input.

Original Document: http://www.jtafla.com/images/skyway/SkywayWhitePaper20110303.pdf







56 Comments

Jaxson

March 21, 2011, 09:11:13 AM
Quote
While it is difficult to evaluate the Skyway in the absence of a comprehensive downtown strategy...

ZING!

Ocklawaha

March 21, 2011, 09:58:17 AM
It may be ahead of it's time, or maybe it should have never been built, but one thing is certain, now that we have it, there has NEVER been a better time to push expansion on all fronts then now. Since the Skyway was first built where has JACKSONVILLE "owned" the key congressional seats to get our funding pushed through? This is also time to get after the streetcar construction for the same reasons... Or we can stand on the sidelines while other cities score again, and again, and again...

OCKLAWAHA

peestandingup

March 21, 2011, 10:51:50 AM
It may be ahead of it's time, or maybe it should have never been built, but one thing is certain, now that we have it, there has NEVER been a better time to push expansion on all fronts then now. Since the Skyway was first built where has JACKSONVILLE "owned" the key congressional seats to get our funding pushed through? This is also time to get after the streetcar construction for the same reasons... Or we can stand on the sidelines while other cities score again, and again, and again...

OCKLAWAHA

This is a sticky problem though that has so many variables. Its absolutely true that it should have never been built. I dont know who thought this was a good idea, because the cost per mile is INSANE. You could have built a light rail or streetcar system that covered half of the city for not much more than what the Skyway cost.

But, here it is. And like they said, they obviously can't tear it down because of repayment costs. But then, they can't extend it either because of cost. And with all of downtown's issues these days, its obviously not a good "starting point" for transit because no one lives there, works there or really even goes down there. You have to bring the people from the outside to it, instead of the other way around.

Connecting the adjacent areas (Riverside, San Marco, Springfield) with an integrated system is vital (not buses, buses suck, no one will ride them, so lets get that out of our heads right now). I'm talking about a dedicated system that can eventually reach all of these areas (and the suburbs as well), that then tie in to the Skyway. Then, downtown will eventually come around. But if you play the "wait & see" game with downtown, you'll be waiting a while. It's obviously not gonna get there on its own & needs a "little help from it's friends", meaning its surrounding neighborhoods.

So, yes. You're gonna have to invest in other transit if you want this thing to ever be successful. It's really the only way.

P.S. And if JTA has to ask, "dedicated system" is a light rail or streetcar. I don't care which one it is, it has to be cost effective, run often & get people to places they want to go in a timely manner. Shut up about "trolleys". We all know they're just gussied up buses & are subject to the same exact issues that go along with them, so lets not BS each other. No real city who's serious about transit ever considers the "trolley-bus" the main point of their core system.

Doctor_K

March 21, 2011, 11:10:06 AM
Connecting the adjacent areas (Riverside, San Marco, Springfield) with an integrated system is vital (not buses, buses suck, no one will ride them, so lets get that out of our heads right now).

Meh.

While I actually agree with your other points, PSU, I must say I'd ride the bus if there was a route that actually went where I needed to go. 

And if there were better than 50-70 minute headways, but that's another argument. :)

PeeJayEss

March 21, 2011, 11:42:21 AM
I...like...JTA

CS Foltz

March 21, 2011, 12:26:03 PM
Right or wrong.........$kyway is there and it will cost to remove it! Since the revenue stream generated comes no where close to actually paying for it, why not make it FREE? It is costing us $4 to $7 Million dollars a year to subsidize it today(that figure is taken from several different sources such as TU&JTA) and could be a draw for downtown if there were a downtown that was attractive and user friendly but that takes a vision and a plan! There are so many organizations that cover downtown and none there is none leading the discussion! JTA should be responding to the taxpayers, since our dollars pay for their operations and great idea's Like BRT!

stjr

March 21, 2011, 12:30:14 PM
Lake, the tone, style, and substance of this looks an awful lot like your handiwork with input from Ock.  It also looks especially customized to address our many fertile discussions at MJ.  At first, I actually thought it was an MJ article.  I had to pinch myself a few times to be sure it was "officially issued" JTA speak.  Sure you didn't offer JTA a major assist?  :D

I'll give whoever wrote it some bonus points for trying to show and respect more than one side of the issue.  I don't recall JTA humbly acknowledging its critics or their criticisms too often.  Maybe this is a sign of a new, "softer", JTA?   8)  (Or, is it a display of Lake's style to encourage even handed evaluations of the issues?)

As already noted by another post, it looks like "status quo" for the Skyway for years to come.  A stale mate.  No expansion and no abandonment.  I guess that will serve as fodder ad infinitum for MJ boards!

In the mean time, we need to work on getting commuter rail and streetcars.  Then, we can all pause and reevaluate the Skyway.  I figure that's at least 10 years out.  By then, maybe the Feds will have fully depreciated it.  ;)

Coolyfett

March 21, 2011, 01:15:56 PM
yea yea yea yada yada......put the train where people work, live & play. Riverside & Bay Street is where to start. All this talk for years, when is something going to HAPPEN already?

CopperCommuter

March 21, 2011, 01:18:43 PM
Quote
I must say I'd ride the bus if there was a route that actually went where I needed to go.  

And if there were better than 50-70 minute headways, but that's another argument.

I made these two points more than 15 years ago in the T/U when the JTA at that time made riding the bus free for a very short period.  Even though our mayor at that time was frequently touting the value of our public transportation system, he himself never utilized it either -- perhaps for those two essential reasons.  Not much has changed with the JTA in this respect since then.

urbaknight

March 21, 2011, 01:39:27 PM
Extend the Skyway down Bay st, have a stop at the current Annex building, then take it out to the sports complex.

Ocklawaha

March 21, 2011, 02:23:10 PM
Just a few quickie ideas to get this rolling...

Sorry y'all, you know Lake and I will stop at nothing to defend "our Skyway."  LOL! ;D

Rapid schedule change and coordination between BUS and SKYWAY are in immediate order.

Change the configuration of the sprawling stations to accommodate art studios, retail and food vendors.




Change access to the stations, using canopied sidewalks between:

Kings avenue - vendors and canopy to Prudential Drive

Riverplace Station - Suntrust, consideration should be given to run this to Riverplace Tower (vendor spaces)

San Marco Station - IMMEDIATE:  station to Prudential connect via skywalk or canopied pedestrian sidewalk. On a larger scale, a study should be made for a future SKYWALK to connect San Marco Station with Aetna and Baptist hospital towers. (large vendor spaces)

Convention Center/Jefferson Street Station - Configure this line for on-call service except during rush hour using an elevator style call button.

Hemming Plaza, the Skyway shelters much of the sidewalk along Hogan but an actual canopy would do a better job running from Church to Adams Streets. (vendor spaces0

Rosa Parks Station, vendor spaces

Extend operating hours to nights and weekends/holidays on mainline, on call only on the Jacksonville Terminal Sub.

Have a roving Skyway "patrol-ambassador-conductor" officer.

Create a low cost, temporary gound level station in front fo the maintenance facility.


OCKLAWAHA

fieldafm

March 21, 2011, 03:55:18 PM
Anyone know why the skyway was operating all weekend?  Were they just testing the service based on their track repairs?

johnnyroadglide

March 21, 2011, 04:04:29 PM
Right or wrong.........$kyway is there and it will cost to remove it! Since the revenue stream generated comes no where close to actually paying for it, why not make it FREE?

For most of the people who ride it, it is free! Ever stand and watch the number of passengers who simply jump the turnstiles, such as they are? If JSO would hand out tickets to everyone who jumped the gates, JTA could have as much revenue as they needed.

fieldafm

March 21, 2011, 04:08:27 PM
Quote
For most of the people who ride it, it is free! Ever stand and watch the number of passengers who simply jump the turnstiles, such as they are? If JSO would hand out tickets to everyone who jumped the gates, JTA could have as much revenue as they needed.

You're forced to jump the gates... b/c more often than not, the turnstiles DO NOT work.

johnnyroadglide

March 21, 2011, 04:18:14 PM
That may be true is some cases but these are obvious and very blatant efforts to simply ignore the fee and jump the turnstiles. I have watched numerous occasions of people not even making an effort to pay the fee.

fieldafm

March 21, 2011, 04:45:24 PM
Quote
That may be true is some cases but these are obvious and very blatant efforts to simply ignore the fee and jump the turnstiles. I have watched numerous occasions of people not even making an effort to pay the fee.

If JTA does not care, clearly why should anyone else?

They brought out the Bay Street Trolley bus on the Riverside Trolley route two Saturdays ago... problem is, Bay Street Trolley busses have broken fare boxes.  I asked why?  The answer from the driver, they just wanted to run these busses today. 

wsansewjs

March 21, 2011, 05:03:25 PM
After spending millions of dollars on "upgrading" their fare boxes in past three years using the America Recovery Act's funds, and you are telling me that is still broken?!

Scroll down to "Fare Collection System" @ http://www.jtafla.com/Projects/showPage.aspx?Sel=208. You will see the description, "To install modern fare collection equipment in bus fleet." and the cost, $4,430,000.

Seriously that cost MORE than any other projects under America Recovery Act.

JTA, BULLSHIT! JTA. F***ing BULLSHIT! -throws papers in the air-

-Josh

peestandingup

March 21, 2011, 05:10:07 PM
Connecting the adjacent areas (Riverside, San Marco, Springfield) with an integrated system is vital (not buses, buses suck, no one will ride them, so lets get that out of our heads right now).

Meh.

While I actually agree with your other points, PSU, I must say I'd ride the bus if there was a route that actually went where I needed to go. 

And if there were better than 50-70 minute headways, but that's another argument. :)

So would I, but buses rarely ever do that. They're erratic by nature since they all follow the same open road system that cars do. That means delays, less frequency, uncertainty of when the next bus arrives at your stop, etc. That's why places with dedicated rail systems like DC can push a train through every 10 minutes. Which is really what you want.

No one wants to pull out a bus schedule & try to coordinate a rendezvous to which you can be at the bus stop at the perfect time. That's why no one rides buses, its not worth it & is a PITA. You should be able to just go whenever you want & not possibly wait an hour. And no, running more buses isn't the answer because of the reasons I mentioned. Plus, its incredibly wasteful & inefficient. Thats why they run them with the infrequency that they do now. You could maybe up it to once every 30-45 minutes in a town like this, but thats still not good.

Plus, let us not forget our history & where our good friend the modern bus system came from. It was a strategic replacement to a system that wasn't broken (the streetcars) to get us all to drive more & to benefit GM, Standard Oil & the rest of the clowns of National City Lines. Then it sorta went off from there. So they're terrible by design. We knew this before, we know this now. Other cities are trying to make up for the mistakes of the past, but not us.

Like I said, any real city that's serious about public transit doesn't make buses their primary people mover. To do this is doing it ass-backwards (which I suspect is what we'll end up doing).

johnnyroadglide

March 21, 2011, 05:18:36 PM
Quote
That may be true is some cases but these are obvious and very blatant efforts to simply ignore the fee and jump the turnstiles. I have watched numerous occasions of people not even making an effort to pay the fee.

If JTA does not care, clearly why should anyone else?

They brought out the Bay Street Trolley bus on the Riverside Trolley route two Saturdays ago... problem is, Bay Street Trolley busses have broken fare boxes.  I asked why?  The answer from the driver, they just wanted to run these busses today. 
And you are right, field..they obviously don't care or they would figure out ways to fix the turnstiles or stop the toll jumpers.

exnewsman

March 21, 2011, 05:31:09 PM
Until the new fare collection system is installed - what would be the point? Blaylock said on his TV show that the smart card fare system would be installed later this year.

stjr

March 21, 2011, 10:19:39 PM
Lake, the tone, style, and substance of this looks an awful lot like your handiwork with input from Ock.  It also looks especially customized to address our many fertile discussions at MJ.  At first, I actually thought it was an MJ article.  I had to pinch myself a few times to be sure it was "officially issued" JTA speak.  Sure you didn't offer JTA a major assist?  :D

I'll give whoever wrote it some bonus points for trying to show and respect more than one side of the issue.  I don't recall JTA humbly acknowledging its critics or their criticisms too often.  Maybe this is a sign of a new, "softer", JTA?   8)  (Or, is it a display of Lake's style to encourage even handed evaluations of the issues?)


So... Lake and Ock, are you co-conspirators with JTA on this or is it just a coincidence that it aligns so well with your accumulated posts and previous articles?  For the record.....

Lunican

March 21, 2011, 10:23:03 PM
Here is the JTA Making Moves video that discusses the future of the skyway.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ED4V7n_7plc&feature=player_detailpage#t=914s

dougskiles

March 22, 2011, 06:08:11 AM
I watched the video.  Pretty good but I didn't like the talk about "it is unlikely that the original plans to extend the Skyway to Shands, Riverside or the Sports Complex will ever be realized".  Nice shots of Portland.

thelakelander

March 22, 2011, 07:37:45 AM
None are on the drawing board at the moment. We need to pick and choose our battles and expanding the skyway should not be the top mass transit priority right now. Addressing skyway expansion before getting better utilization out of our existing system or a streetcar starter could take down local mass transit in general. JTA has to 2017 to get their act together or risk losing a significant amount current funding. Time to quickly grab some low hanging fruit and incrementally move on from there.

Garden guy

March 22, 2011, 07:45:23 AM
The historically conservative leaders of this city want an international city but unfortunately their decisions, ideas, attitude and beliefs will continue to make sure that any type of modern transportation infrastructure null and void in this city. They think we are a metro city but we really aren't and never will be if the citizens keep doing what they've been doing the past 50 years...nothing but passing on the buck and defunding by lowering taxes that really only help the wealthy and connected.

Ocklawaha

March 22, 2011, 11:06:59 AM
So... Lake and Ock, are you co-conspirators with JTA on this or is it just a coincidence that it aligns so well with your accumulated posts and previous articles?  For the record.....[/b]

In spite of the best efforts of the idiots at CNN, FOX and the local mullet wrapper, there is NO SUCH THING AS A "CO-CONSPIRATOR." Please don't write under the mistaken assumption that if it appears in a lesser dictionary, that means it is correct, obviously overlooking the possibility that perhaps they are mistaken. Look up "unindicted". Coconspirator, is just as wrong despite the drooping standards at Merriam-Webster. Sex refers to living things, gender is a grammatical term. People continue to use these words interchangeably. That's just bad writing. I continue to use the Times-Union for bad examples and they give me a lot to work with.

Actually if it makes you feel any better JTA reads MJ, perhaps they were responding knowing we would pick up the story? Otherwise stjr, as far as conspiracy's that's as close as it gets.


OCKLAWAHA  ;D  ;)  ;D

stjr

March 22, 2011, 01:49:41 PM
Actually if it makes you feel any better JTA reads MJ, perhaps they were responding knowing we would pick up the story? Otherwise stjr, as far as conspiracy's that's as close as it gets.[/b]

Well, Ock, you and Lake should get some royalties from JTA.  I would say most of their "white paper" was lifted right off of MJ boards.  Not that I mind, just giving credit where credit is due.

Lunican

March 22, 2011, 02:53:26 PM
Here is part 1 of the Skyway segment on JTA's Making Moves show:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fDMwWD-PqGE&feature=player_detailpage#t=830s

danem

March 22, 2011, 03:59:06 PM
Well that's a good thing, right? JTA listening to the transit enthusiasts on here?  ;D

dougskiles

March 22, 2011, 04:18:09 PM
None are on the drawing board at the moment. We need to pick and choose our battles and expanding the skyway should not be the top mass transit priority right now. Addressing skyway expansion before getting better utilization out of our existing system or a streetcar starter could take down local mass transit in general. JTA has to 2017 to get their act together or risk losing a significant amount current funding. Time to quickly grab some low hanging fruit and incrementally move on from there.

My opinion is that an extension of an existing system would be more prudent than the construction of an entirely new one.  Particularly if developers are ready to put the shovel in the ground on TODs that would support the system.

I love the streetcar idea - but it is one that will require a significant investment by the government to make a reality.  I don't see anyone committing to a large enough development these days that would provide any private funds.  A skyway extension can happen incrementally, from stop to stop - with a TOD at each stop being the driving force.  In addition, there are already opportunities for TODs at existing stations that can help to fund the system.

Dashing Dan

March 22, 2011, 05:05:19 PM
We need to pick and choose our battles and expanding the skyway should not be the top mass transit priority right now.

Time to quickly grab some low hanging fruit and incrementally move on from there.

I love the streetcar idea - but it is one that will require a significant investment by the government to make a reality. 

It's not an easy call to make, but I'm siding with dougskiles here. 

Before the streetcar could happen, Jax needs to do something about the skyway.  If extended, the skyway should go across the FEC RR out to Atlantic Blvd in San Marco. 

Kay

March 22, 2011, 05:11:44 PM
Actually if it makes you feel any better JTA reads MJ, perhaps they were responding knowing we would pick up the story? Otherwise stjr, as far as conspiracy's that's as close as it gets.[/b]

Well, Ock, you and Lake should get some royalties from JTA.  I would say most of their "white paper" was lifted right off of MJ boards.  Not that I mind, just giving credit where credit is due.

Why do you always write in bold?

dougskiles

March 22, 2011, 06:47:36 PM
Why do you always write in bold?

Kay, do you think it odd that both Ock and stjr write in bold?  I think it is because Ock and stjr are the same person.  Alter egos or dopplegangers, if you will.  The question is - which one is the evil twin?

peestandingup

March 22, 2011, 07:02:57 PM
Maybe they both just like yelling at us?

thelakelander

March 22, 2011, 07:16:09 PM
Doug, Dashing Dan, it's actually quite the opposite. A streetcar, even one from scratch, is significantly cheaper to construct than even extending the skyway incrementally. It would also allow you to do the most important thing for mass transit success in the urban core. That is to actually penetrate dense neighborhoods and destinations that already exist, while creating economic development opportunities along the way. In addition, because of the cost and actual congestion need (at least the Riverside line), the first phase to Park & King would be funded 100% by the mobility plan. Other than that, the annual O&M is cheaper, it integrates better with existing historic neighborhoods and it has a +100 year success record. All in all, if people want to see the skyway expanded, a streetcar complementing it, that's also funded without a tax increase or public referendum is one of the best ways to get there. Neverthess, none of this means the skyway can't be expanded incrementally when the opportunity presents itself. However, without private dollars, it will be significantly more difficult, given it's history, upfront costs, high O&M costs and the fact that other than the Atlantic extension, no funding is in place to do any skyway extension.

CS Foltz

March 22, 2011, 07:40:43 PM
Makes sense to me lake..............too bad JTA has not seen the light of rail, but keep pushing BRT! Talk about wasted effort, dollars and resources!

peestandingup

March 22, 2011, 08:00:14 PM
Makes sense to me lake..............too bad JTA has not seen the light of rail, but keep pushing BRT! Talk about wasted effort, dollars and resources!

Too bad they didn't invest in rail from the beginning. For the money they spent of the Skyway, it would have made a significant impact even with the initial investment then. By now, it would have probably covered half the city. Doh!

I'd like to know how they chose this thing over light rail? Anyone know who the geniuses were behind this & how it all went down? Where are they now??

Ocklawaha

March 22, 2011, 10:34:28 PM
Why do you always write in bold?

Because I can't see much of what I write if I don't! Psst... Just call me Secret Agent Orange! And it's getting worse. As for my evil twin stjr, I seem to recall a post in which he once stated the same thing. I've messed with the view, and zoom but bold seems to make it more comfortable on my eyes. I believe my honorary nephew Josh also suffers from vision problems, so there are at least 3 of us.


OCKLAWAHA

Ocklawaha

March 22, 2011, 10:36:31 PM
Maybe they both just like yelling at us?

MY UNDERSTANDING IS THAT THIS IS YELLING!

...So this must be modified braille.


OCKLAWAHA

stjr

March 22, 2011, 10:41:25 PM
Why do you always write in bold?

Because I can't see much of what I write if I don't! Psst... Just call me Secret Agent Orange! And it's getting worse. As for my evil twin stjr, I seem to recall a post in which he once stated the same thing. I've messed with the view, and zoom but bold seems to make it more comfortable on my eyes. I believe my honorary nephew Josh also suffers from vision problems, so there are at least 3 of us.


OCKLAWAHA

Ock, I agree with you.  On a Skyway thread, no less.  ;)  I suggested once before that MJ look at a heavier type font for more contrast but alas this is what we have.  So, its adapt or perish. By they way, Ock, I follow Google's motto of "Do no evil".  Where does that leave you?   :D

Ocklawaha

March 22, 2011, 10:53:09 PM
Doug, Dashing Dan, it's actually quite the opposite. A streetcar, even one from scratch, is significantly cheaper to construct than even extending the skyway incrementally. It would also allow you to do the most important thing for mass transit success in the urban core. That is to actually penetrate dense neighborhoods and destinations that already exist, while creating economic development opportunities along the way. In addition, because of the cost and actual congestion need (at least the Riverside line), the first phase to Park & King would be funded 100% by the mobility plan. Other than that, the annual O&M is cheaper, it integrates better with existing historic neighborhoods and it has a +100 year success record. All in all, if people want to see the skyway expanded, a streetcar complementing it, that's also funded without a tax increase or public referendum is one of the best ways to get there. Neverthess, none of this means the skyway can't be expanded incrementally when the opportunity presents itself. However, without private dollars, it will be significantly more difficult, given it's history, upfront costs, high O&M costs and the fact that other than the Atlantic extension, no funding is in place to do any skyway extension.

It is not a this or that question, the best transit in the world features a healthy mix of modes and choices, which even at it's best is all good transit really is...a CHOICE. A network made up of 3-4 distinct modes, each sharing an equal part of the whole,  which weave and knit the city together like a fine fabric, will always work better then a single modal choice equal to in size to the entire system.  So the answer is YES you build the Skyway ASAP, and YES you build the streetcar ASAP, and the BRT, and the Commuter Rail, and the Water Taxi's, and the true Trolley Bus, Schweeb, Bike Share, etc...

In our case right now, Skyway is funded to Atlantic, and Streetcar from Bay and Newnan to Park and King... As they move into the next phase, engineering, as we are self funding, it is time to apply pressure to extend the Skyway on to the new VA clinic/Shand's and/or East Bay/Stadiums. At the same time we need to start planning the next phase(s) of streetcar. It's time to apply pressure to get a Skywalk connection between Baptist-Aetna and the current "San Marco Skyway Station", and it's time to change the name of that station to "SOUTHBANK," reserving San Marco for the real San Marco. The "s"  is also funded, so time to look beyond Liberty and 21st Street and start thinking North Main-Panama, Busch-Dunn Ave, Airport Road. Streetcar in the next phase breaking out of the city streets at Beaver and Palmetto, and shooting north on old railroad right-of-way to 21st and on to Gateway Mall... Even though this will involve bridging the NILE RIVER, the payback will be myriad, and with Congress stacked in our favor, NOW IS THE TIME TO ACT.


OCKLAWAHA

Ocklawaha

March 22, 2011, 10:57:27 PM

Ock, I agree with you.  On a Skyway thread, no less.  ;)  I suggested once before that MJ look at a heavier type font for more contrast but alas this is what we have.  So, its adapt or perish. By they way, Ock, I follow Google's motto of "Do no evil".  Where does that leave you?   :D


Oh I'm no stranger to the evil world of realities, as I told the Country Club here at WGV, "Hell boys, I ain't joining no club that would have me as a member!"

OCKLAWAHA

stjr

March 22, 2011, 11:00:55 PM
"Hell boys, I ain't joining no club that would have me as a member!"


Ock, do you realize this is a paraphrase of a quote from a Groucho Marx quote.


Quote
I sent the club a wire stating, "PLEASE ACCEPT MY RESIGNATION. I DON'T WANT TO BELONG TO ANY CLUB THAT WILL ACCEPT PEOPLE LIKE ME AS A MEMBER".

    * Telegram to the Friar's Club of Beverly Hills to which he belonged, as recounted in Groucho and Me (1959), p. 321

http://en.wikiquote.org/wiki/Groucho_Marx

tufsu1

March 22, 2011, 11:15:19 PM
here's the deal...any hope for a Skyway extension is dead for at least the next 4 yeras...heck, Hogan might try to tear it down to "beautify" Hogan Street downtown!

thelakelander

March 22, 2011, 11:37:57 PM
Doug, Dashing Dan, it's actually quite the opposite. A streetcar, even one from scratch, is significantly cheaper to construct than even extending the skyway incrementally. It would also allow you to do the most important thing for mass transit success in the urban core. That is to actually penetrate dense neighborhoods and destinations that already exist, while creating economic development opportunities along the way. In addition, because of the cost and actual congestion need (at least the Riverside line), the first phase to Park & King would be funded 100% by the mobility plan. Other than that, the annual O&M is cheaper, it integrates better with existing historic neighborhoods and it has a +100 year success record. All in all, if people want to see the skyway expanded, a streetcar complementing it, that's also funded without a tax increase or public referendum is one of the best ways to get there. Neverthess, none of this means the skyway can't be expanded incrementally when the opportunity presents itself. However, without private dollars, it will be significantly more difficult, given it's history, upfront costs, high O&M costs and the fact that other than the Atlantic extension, no funding is in place to do any skyway extension.

It is not a this or that question, the best transit in the world features a healthy mix of modes and choices, which even at it's best is all good transit really is...a CHOICE. A network made up of 3-4 distinct modes, each sharing an equal part of the whole,  which weave and knit the city together like a fine fabric, will always work better then a single modal choice equal to in size to the entire system.  So the answer is YES you build the Skyway ASAP, and YES you build the streetcar ASAP, and the BRT, and the Commuter Rail, and the Water Taxi's, and the true Trolley Bus, Schweeb, Bike Share, etc...

Yes, but in reality we can't do them all at once.  We simply don't have the money.  Thus, you have to prioritize.  Tonight's election results are pretty damaging to JTA's desire to keep that gas tax going in 2017.  Their on the clock to prove their worth.  Realistically speaking, the most cost efficient and easiest thing to do right now is to work to improve the existing system before spending any money on major expansion projects. 

Quote
In our case right now, Skyway is funded to Atlantic, and Streetcar from Bay and Newnan to Park and King...

If the mobility plan is approved and officially put in place, only the streetcar line is in the 10-year priority funding plan.  While the skyway plan is in, I believe that particular zone's first project is the expansion of Philips Highway between University and JTB.  So most likely, unless privately funded, that skyway expansion to Atlantic is still 10 years or more out.

Quote
As they move into the next phase, engineering, as we are self funding, it is time to apply pressure to extend the Skyway on to the new VA clinic/Shand's and/or East Bay/Stadiums. At the same time we need to start planning the next phase(s) of streetcar.

At this point, all of this is 2020 and beyond.

Quote
It's time to apply pressure to get a Skywalk connection between Baptist-Aetna and the current "San Marco Skyway Station", and it's time to change the name of that station to "SOUTHBANK," reserving San Marco for the real San Marco.

Better integrating our existing facilities with their surroundings is what we should be doing right now.  This makes our already made investments more sound and gives JTA the credibility to make an argument for extending the gas tax in 2017.  As for renaming the station, I'd be in favor of selling naming rights.  Imo, we need all the money we can get.

Quote
The "s"  is also funded, so time to look beyond Liberty and 21st Street and start thinking North Main-Panama, Busch-Dunn Ave, Airport Road. Streetcar in the next phase breaking out of the city streets at Beaver and Palmetto, and shooting north on old railroad right-of-way to 21st and on to Gateway Mall... Even though this will involve bridging the NILE RIVER, the payback will be myriad, and with Congress stacked in our favor, NOW IS THE TIME TO ACT.

Let's make sure we get the initial projects (riverside streetcar and S-Line) actually get off the ground first.  We still have a long hard fight ahead.

stjr

March 22, 2011, 11:50:12 PM
I've said all along, Lake, that it would be foolhardy for mass transit advocates to think that local taxpayers will support having one of everything on the menu here in Jax. Tonight's election, as you note, seems to confirm that.  Priorities and choices have to be made. It's part of why I believe the Skyway is damaging these other better and preferable transit options.  Let's focus on streetcars and commuter rail and stop muddling the discussion with the distracting Skyway, especially talk of expanding it.  Even you and Tufsu agree its years out at best so there is no need to keep bringing it up presently.

JeffreyS

March 22, 2011, 11:51:29 PM
I've said all along, Lake, that it would be foolhardy for mass transit advocates to think that local taxpayers will support having one of everything on the menu here in Jax. Tonight's election, as you note, seems to confirm that.  Priorities and choices have to be made. It's part of why I believe the Skyway is damaging these other better and preferable transit options.  Let's focus on streetcars and commuter rail and stop muddling the discussion with the distracting Skyway, especially talk of expanding it.  Even you and Tufsu agree its years out at best so there is no need to keep bringing it up presently.

You have a skyway post I completely agree with.

Dashing Dan

March 24, 2011, 01:01:26 PM
My argument is on mainly behalf of improvements to the existing skyway network.  Without significant new property developments that would pay funds into the mobility plan, streetcars and skyway extensions are both very iffy at this point.

While no one was watching, the skyway has gotten to be somewhat unreliable, at least with regard to the escalators and the fare collection equipment.  Those problems need to be fixed now.  Also, it would be nice to see some additional joint development at or near existing skyway stations, like the hotels at the Kings Avenue parking garage.

thelakelander

March 24, 2011, 01:30:24 PM
I definitely agree with Dashing Dan on the point above.  Taking advantage of and better utilizing what's already in place should be a larger short term priority than any type of expansion talk.  Integrating the existing skyway stations with land development opportunities and the existing bus network are achievable goals that can happen without major financial assistance.

jacksoninjax

March 31, 2011, 02:46:50 PM
Expanding the Skyway to the sports complex won't be a "panacea" for downtown's ills.   However, it will be a step in the right direction.  Whether we like it or not, the Skyway exists and the city (JTA) has three options.

1. Don't expand it and accept the fact that it will always lose money and will forever remain downtown's white elephant.
2. Tear it down and pretend it was all a bad dream. 
3. Bite the bullet and expand it to the sports complex in order to generate higher and consistent ridership and, in turn, more revenue. 

Sure, there will be costs associated with an expansion.  But that's much better than Option 1 (stagnant ridership and little chance of increased revenue) and Option 2 (re-paying the federal government millions of dollars in grant money as a penalty for dismantling the Skyway). 

Also, the use wouldn't be limited to home football games.  What about events at Metro Park, concerts at the Arena, Jax Sun’s baseball games, Florida-Georgia game, and the Jax Fair?  There is a huge disconnect between the sports complex and the rest of downtown (Northbank, Landing and Southbank).  Imagine if people actually used the outlining parking areas (including the Kings Avenue garage) and took the Skyway to the sports complex, with the option of stopping along the way at restaurants and nightclubs (and hopefully one day the Shipyards complex) that will surely begin to sprout up along the Bay Street and Forsyth Street corridors.     

As it is now, whenever there are events at Metropolitan Park, Arena and Stadium, thousands of people park in the outlying parking areas (convention center, Kings Ave Garage, etc.) and have no choice but to take a meandering (and jerky) bus ride to the sports complex/Metro Park areas.  Under JTA's current scenario, the buses whisk people to and from the sports complex as quickly as possible, bypassing the few night clubs and restaurants that downtown does have, and then afterwards drops them off at parking lots on the edges of downtown.  This only encourages people to get back in their cars for the mass exodus from downtown.  It’s just as bad for people who park near the stadium.  Instead of a traffic flow that encourages people to stop on Bay Street or the Landing after a game, they city places barricades and one way exits that only encourage, if not forces, people to immediately leave downtown after a game or concert. Does this make any sense at all?

One of the first lamest mistakes that the city and JTA did was not extend the Skyway to the most obvious place-The Sports Complex.  There would be little, if any, parking problems if the city built additional parking structures outside of the downtown core but still reasonably close. We already have the Kings Avenue Garage within easy walking distance to the San Marco Station and the convention center parking lots are right next door to another station.  By extending the Skyway to the Sports Complex, JTA will have connected all major areas of the downtown core. And, if there were a couple of stations along the way, people could actually stop at the Landing or Bay Street for a drink or bite to eat and then hop back on the Skyway for a game or concert.

Downtown business owners should be furious with the city and JTA for making it so difficult for people to explore downtown after a game or concert because of the current situation.  Is there any wonder that our downtown is struggling and cities like Charlotte have a thriving downtown nightlife?  Jacksonville city leaders and JTA, I implore you to reconsider this ill fated bus plan and go back and finish what your started with the Skyway Express.  By connecting downtown and the Southbank with the sports complex (2 or 3 sq. miles) via the Skyway, you will make it easier and more enjoyable for visitors and residents to explore our beautiful “river city by the sea.”  If the city and JTA can’t succeed in connecting this 3 square mile area, the heart of our city, what makes them believe they can connect the entire city through bus rapid transit. 






Timkin

March 31, 2011, 02:53:34 PM
I would favor expansion of the Skyway / Bringing back Streetcars to various routes over adding ONE more "stinky fake trolley "

Jdog

March 31, 2011, 03:21:42 PM
IMHO the main point of the Skyway should be distributing.  If Union Station and the surroundings are used vigorously (a commuter train station, Amtrak, Greyhound station, BRT station, etc.), then you need the Skyway.  In fact, the Skyway might even be the correct mode, in my view.  Despite the Skyway's unpopularity, I can't see people coming into downtown sometime in the future on a first transit system and then hopping onto a second transit system that has to be involved in some level of street traffic downtown.  Ideally, you'd pay to get to Union Station (train or BRT, etc.) and use the same pass to get onto the Skyway for free.  There's a north and south track coming out of convention center station that should shuttle, quickly and seamlessly, through the northbank and southbank, respectively.  As far as the Skyway being more than a distributing mechanism, I can only see, sometime in the distant future, possibly networking into Five Points, San Marco.   

 

Timkin

March 31, 2011, 03:49:12 PM
I think the Skyway could ,on its own be a monumental success if it went to destinations where people would spend money,,,I E  Five Points / San Marco.   I have never been in favor of scrapping it.. since it exists already, we should...rather than the expense of tearing it down and putting it in a landfill or whatever, utilize it by making it useful to the masses.. and not a select few..  As it is , it would never be a money-maker.. may not be if expanded, but it certainly stands a better chance with the latter. Combining it with streetcar / rail would be wonderful .

Ocklawaha

March 31, 2011, 04:36:34 PM
Downtown business owners should be furious with the city and JTA for making it so difficult for people to explore downtown after a game or concert because of the current situation.

They are... BOTH OF THEM!

Thanks in no small part to the "We tried fixed transit in Jacksonville, it won't work, we quit..." crowd down at JTA.
We have a huge development tool right under our noses and can't see the forest for the concrete piers.
(sound of crickets chirping)


OCKLAWAHA

exnewsman

March 31, 2011, 04:36:49 PM
While no one was watching, the skyway has gotten to be somewhat unreliable, at least with regard to the escalators and the fare collection equipment.  Those problems need to be fixed now.  Also, it would be nice to see some additional joint development at or near existing skyway stations, like the hotels at the Kings Avenue parking garage.


The JTA Board today approved a major move forward on this. According to Blaylock on hi sTV show, JTA had already reviewed RFPs on a new fare colelction system. The top vendors had been identified. Now the Board approved negotiations with those vendors. Blaylock said we should see the new fare boxes in place later this year. I think today's action verifies that. This will be a major step in the right direction for all of mass transit in Jacksonville.

Ocklawaha

March 31, 2011, 04:54:49 PM
I definitely agree with Dashing Dan on the point above.  Taking advantage of and better utilizing what's already in place should be a larger short term priority than any type of expansion talk.  Integrating the existing skyway stations with land development opportunities and the existing bus network are achievable goals that can happen without major financial assistance.

We agree that massive change would result if JTA would just focus a bit of creativity to the Skyway. On MJ we have come up with several methods to increase ridership, lower or eliminate fares and cut operating costs. This should be a number one priority.

Conversely we cannot accept the status quo as downtown isn't dying, it's DEAD! Even if JTA gave us the Skyway, without some investment in infrastructure everything we accomplished would still be like serving free champagne and slippers to the passengers on a plane, because it has no wings.  Nice place to visit, but it ain't going anywhere!


OCKLAWAHA
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