Friday, August 22, 2014
Welcome, Guest. Please login or register.
 

JTA's Strategic Vision for the Future

Brad Thoburn, Jacksonville Transportation Authority's (JTA) Director of Strategic Planning and Research, shares the agency's strategic vision plan with Metro Jacksonville.

Published July 25, 2012 in Urban Issues      37 Comments    Open printer friendly version of this article Print Article


feature

First, a very brief history:  The Jacksonville Transportation Authority (JTA) began as the Jacksonville Expressway Authority (the original “JEA”) in 1955.  In 1971, the expressway authority took over Jacksonville’s failing private bus operations and became a true multi-modal transportation entity. In 1988, voters passed a half-cent sales tax, which allowed JTA to remove the city’s existing tolls.  In 2000, JTA entered into an interlocal agreement with the City of Jacksonville to implement key road and bridge projects of the Better Jacksonville Plan (BJP).  

Last year, JTA began to seriously contemplate its future in a post-BJP era and adjust to the needs of the community - as we have throughout our history.  As a multi-modal agency, JTA can work towards enhanced community mobility rather than simply trying to justify investments in a singular mode of focus.  

Thus, we began updating the JTA’s Five-Year Strategic Plan consistent with our evolving mission.  This update combines the Five-Year Strategic Plan with an agency Vision/Positioning Statement, our annual budget and work plan, and an Annual Performance report.  Combined, these make up what we call the JTA Consolidated Plan – that aligns our long-term vision, mid-range strategic plan and annual work plan, and provides feedback on our progress towards the agency’s goals.  A draft of the Executive Summary (with revised Vision, Mission, Goals and Core Values), Vision/Positioning Statement and Five-Year Strategic plan can be found online at www.jtafla.com.


CHALLENGES AND OPPORTUNITIES

JTA’s Consolidated Plan has been developed in the context of key challenges and opportunities we face as an agency and a community.  These challenges include refining the agency’s role, economic competitiveness, sustainable funding, community characteristics and public policy context.




Refining the Agency Role

Jacksonville’s growth has spread from the urban core to the suburbs and beyond.  A dispersion of population and employment away from downtown lengthens commutes, places greater demands on our roads, impacts our air quality, and challenges the delivery of public mass transit.
 
In the future, roadway solutions will be more difficult and costly, and the imperative for stronger and more reliable public transit options will grow. Despite this increasing focus on transit options, we cannot simply abandon roadway capacity improvements in the future.  And we must plan for them together, not simply aim to find a balance between roads and public transit.

Economic Competitiveness

The transportation sector is a key player in the region’s economic recovery and long-term economic competitiveness. JTA’s transportation investments connect workers with employers, enhance the movement of freight and serve as catalysts for growth and development.  JTA investments can support the movement of goods to, from and through our port, support and strengthen Downtown Jacksonville, and help attract college-educated 25 to 34 year-old professionals who tend to be drawn to vibrant, transit supportive urban areas and neighborhoods near the urban core.

Sustainable Funding

Planning for, and delivering, essential transportation projects and transit services requires long-term financial stability.  Like our nation as a whole, JTA faces significant challenges in funding our transportation needs.  Fortunately, JTA has made the best of the dedicated funding sources for building roads and bridges and operating mass transit.  However, the funding sources face severe constraints in the near future – the most significant of which is the expiration of the local option gas tax in 2016.  The gas tax currently provides approximately $28 million in annual revenues and its absence will substantially affect the level of transportation investment and services JTA can deliver to the community.

Community Characteristics

The growth in regional population combined with the changing desires and demands of Generation Y (also commonly referred to as Millennials or Echo Boomers) and their aging, baby-boomer parents will ultimately impact the planning, design, and development of JTA’s future initiatives and services.

As we plan for the future, we must ask ourselves several key questions: How can we better coordinate with our regional partners to deliver regional transit options? How will we serve an increasing number of seniors who will be demanding more transportation choices while living in areas not easily served by transit? How can JTA be part of attracting a younger, less auto-centric generation that is looking to locate in active urban areas?

Public Policy Context

Fiscal, energy and environmental policy at the federal, state and local level will shape transportation policy.

Governments at all levels must deal with the reality of reduced revenues and, in many cases, substantial debt.  There is a strong public demand for reducing overall expenditures and gaining control of public debt obligations.

There will also be an increased focus on reducing dependence on foreign oil and minimizing environmental impacts from the transportation sector. This will affect revenue available for transportation investments; state and federal funding priorities; the need to increase coordination between land use and transportation planning; and the fuel efficiency and emissions from transit fleets. It will also affect the level of investment needed for effective transit systems in urban areas to achieve national policy goals.


CONTINUING A MULTI-MODAL FOCUS

As JTA increases the emphasis on transit and deals with the reality of post-BJP financial constraints, the focus and vision for the JTA Engineering Department has adjusted accordingly. JTA will continue to advance strategic roadway investments to project readiness and secure discretionary funding and partnership opportunities with FDOT and USDOT.  Focus will be placed on projects aimed at alleviating bottlenecks, improving airport/seaport access and freight mobility, and smaller scale roadway enhancements to support and integrate transit with the pedestrian environment. Additionally, the JTA Engineering function will support JTA’s Mass Transit and Strategic Planning departments through the development of projects such as Bus Rapid Transit and future commuter rail. Lastly, JTA will work to identify future needs and then develop and prioritize critical transportation improvements to address those needs.




DEVELOPING A FIRST TIER TRANSIT SYSTEM

Riders on JTA’s mass transit system take almost one million trips per month.  JTA delivers people to and from work and provides access to medical services, retail, education and recreation and entertainment throughout the community.

JTA must effectively serve its existing base while attracting and retaining “choice” riders.  This requires operational excellence including improving on-time service and increasing service frequency on heavily travelled corridors; keeping buses clean, safe and well-maintained; improving transit accessibility with pedestrian improvements and new shelters along high frequency transit corridors; and providing better, more timely and easily accessible information about JTA services.

JTA will continue to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of the bus system by reducing route duplication, eliminating lower performing routes and focusing resources on the higher-demand corridors - while utilizing vehicles more efficiently.  This includes deploying smaller, neighborhood-focused, flexible-route Community Shuttle vehicles to replace larger 40-foot, fixed-route buses in areas with lower demand that require more flexible services; improving coordination between paratransit services and community shuttles and fixed routes; integrating more routes into the Skyway; and implementing Bus Rapid Transit (BRT).  

STRATEGIC INITIATIVES

In order to better serve more people, JTA is pursuing several key initiatives aimed at developing a more robust and integrated transit system.  These include BRT; regional commuter rail; the Jacksonville Regional Transportation Center Regional; regional Park-and-Ride facilities; transit oriented development (TOD) planning and the Regional Transportation Study Commission.

Bus Rapid Transit (BRT)

JTA is developing a Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) system that includes four corridors (North, Southeast, East and Southwest) connected to a downtown BRT core component. The BRT will provide enhanced service with increased frequency, enhanced stations, branded buses, segments of dedicated lanes, traffic signal priority and possibly queue jumps at selected intersections.  

With fewer stops and more frequent service, the BRT will serve as a critical new element of JTA’s transit system - by providing a premium service on more heavily-traveled corridors that enables customers to move efficiently throughout the city.

Implementation of the system is underway, and the North Corridor will be operational by the end of 2013.  JTA envisions completing the four initial corridors of the BRT system by 2016.

Commuter Rail Planning

JTA is exploring the potential for commuter rail in Northeast Florida.  A Commuter Rail Feasibility Study (2009) identified and evaluated seven potential corridors.  After the initial review, three preferred candidate corridors were identified for additional analysis: a Southeast Corridor from Downtown Jacksonville to St. Augustine; a Southwest Corridor from Downtown Jacksonville to Green Cove Springs; and a North Corridor from Downtown Jacksonville to Yulee.  By utilizing existing freight rail right of way, commuter rail is a promising opportunity to provide regional transit service.  The next phase of the commuter rail planning will provide information needed to make the case and secure federal funding for a commuter rail system.




Jacksonville Regional Transportation Center

The Jacksonville Regional Transportation Center (JRTC) project will integrate multiple facilities and improve access to Jacksonville's public transit network. The JRTC proposes to connect local bus, intercity bus, Amtrak, commuter rail, Skyway, and bicycle and pedestrian amenities.  The JRTC will be implemented in a phased approach to take advantage of funding opportunities from multiple sources.   The JTA has worked diligently to secure state and local funding, acquire needed properties, and apply for newly available discretionary funding programs.  Plans for a new intercity bus facility are moving forward and JTA is working with various partners to make the relocation of Amtrak to Downtown a high priority.

Regional Park and Ride Development

A number of projects are underway to enhance Park and Ride facilities and provide commuters access to current and future JTA express buses and BRT.  A Clay County Park and Ride lot is now under construction; the Baldwin Park-and-Ride is entering design; a BRT North Corridor Park and Ride is planned and Park and Ride facilities are incorporated in the Southeast BRT plans.  JTA is exploring other opportunities for Park and Ride lots to support future regional transit services.

Transit Oriented Development (TOD) Planning

JTA is developing strategies to promote compact, mixed-use development adjacent to existing and future transit facilities.  A comprehensive TOD program will include recommended strategies such as criteria for transit accessibility, compatible land uses, density bonuses, parking, pedestrian and bicycle features, development standards, and concurrency incentives that can be incorporated into local land development regulations and the city’s Comprehensive Plan policies.  The program will also examine improved coordination with local and regional planning agencies to foster TOD, where appropriate, in the land development approval processes.

A TOD station-area master planning process is currently underway for the San Marco and Southbank area.  This will provide a template for future TODs around transit stations.
                     
Regional Transportation Study Commission

Senate Bill 2470 (passed by the Florida Legislature in 2010) established the North Florida Regional Transportation Study Commission (Commission). The Commission’s final report must be submitted by December 31, 2012.

While the RTSC effort has a multi-modal focus, there is a strong interest in regional transit planning.  As the Northeast Florida region expands, the demand for regional transit will, too.  The RTSC is an important effort to begin planning for regional transit services and coordination.

SEEKING INPUT

As previously noted, JTA’s Consolidated Plan includes much more than the agency’s strategic Initiatives.  It is a roadmap for the future of the Agency and we appreciate your input.   You can view the full plan online at www.jtafla.com or you can join us on July 26th at the Prime Osborn Convention Center from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. or 4 to 7 p.m. to learn about specific projects and speak directly with JTA staff.  

MetroJacksonville is home to some of JTA’s fiercest critics, but it is also home to people (many who are professional planners) who share our desire for and understand the importance of JTA’s role in a vibrant and growing city.  We hope you will join us on July 26.

Article by Brad Thoburn, JTA Director of Strategic Planning and Research







37 Comments

simms3

July 25, 2012, 07:07:23 AM
Pretty offensive reading if you ask me.  To me it sounds like he's giving lip service to MetroJacksonville, but yet their planning department still seems so misguided and way behind the curve.

dougskiles

July 25, 2012, 07:11:40 AM
Is it possible to do all the things that are mentioned in the article with the limited funding that JTA is facing in the future?

One of the questions JTA should be asking themselves is are they trying to be too much to too many, and getting so spread out in the process that they are mediocre at best in delivering on any of them?

To say that they will provide service to our entire sprawling city (coverage based) while also attracting choice riders (frequency based) may be unrealistic.  Any significant amout of money spent toward one goal will detract from the other.  There is only a small amount of overlap between the two.

My preference would be to see JTA provide high frequency service between our higher density nodes.  Connecting the urban neighborhoods to the downtown core would be a start.

Then look to the neighborhoods to assist with the funding of the local collection systems.  Everyone will say that they want such as system, but when faced with the prospect of paying extra, we will find out which areas really mean it.  There are creative financing solutions out there involving TIFs and BIDs that we have largely overlooked in Jacksonville.  Doing so would return local neighborhood control to a consolidated city that has arguably been poor at managing competing interests.

An overwhelming majority of people who live in the lower density areas have chosen an automobile lifestyle.  Money spent trying to connect them with transit service is largely wasted.  For those who need (or are choosing) a transit-dependent lifestyle, options should be provided for them to live and work near the transit service areas.  TODs should focus on providing affordable housing and attracting large employers.

daveindesmoines1

July 25, 2012, 08:04:28 AM
I have an elderly parent that lives there in Jacksonville. She should not drive due to her eyesight. This story concerning mass transit for our aging baby boomers is very important. Can the following be implemented to create a more efficient mass transit for those who need to go to doctors' appointments, pharmacies, and grocery stores? Can the following help reduce the feeling of isolation among our elderly, as well? Can patients fill out a survey at the doctor's office for when and if they need transportation to go to these doctor's appointments and to the pharmacy? Perhaps they could fill out their address to see what zone they live in. Then a smart phone APP could assign doctors' appointments based on where these patients lives. This way, vans could pick people up in a certain zone then transport them to medical centers to see their doctors. The bus organization would call people up just before these vans are about to pick them up...There is a problem of the elderly feeling isolated. If the same patients could ride these vans and wait in the same doctor's waiting room; they may make new social connections of like minded people. Thus reduce this feeling of isolation. These vans would transport people to the same pharmacy and grocery stores afterwards as other patients; who live in the same zone...If we are talking about transporting patients to specialists at major hospitals, they could organize new "bus trains" that are run on wheels. Perhaps 3-5 vans could transport people from certain zones to the major bus stops of "bus tains" on wheels. These "bus trains" on wheels would transport people from area zones to regional medical centers then back again. Again doctor's appointments at these regional medical centers, would be made by an APP based upon where these patients lives... Can these concepts create a better run bus system and at the same time reduce the feeling of isolation among our elderly? You be the judge. However these concepts just may work to consider. 

tufsu1

July 25, 2012, 08:06:06 AM
Pretty offensive reading if you ask me.  To me it sounds like he's giving lip service to MetroJacksonville, but yet their planning department still seems so misguided and way behind the curve.

that's a bit harsh simms.....many of the people in the JTA Planning Department do know the deal on what needs to be done to take the agency and city to the next level....unfortunately, leadership at the top of the agency isn't quite there yet. 

dougskiles

July 25, 2012, 08:20:08 AM
I have an elderly parent that lives there in Jacksonville. She should not drive due to her eyesight. This story concerning mass transit for our aging baby boomers is very important. Can the following be implemented to create a more efficient mass transit for those who need to go to doctors' appointments, pharmacies, and grocery stores? Can the following help reduce the feeling of isolation among our elderly, as well? Can patients fill out a survey at the doctor's office for when and if they need transportation to go to these doctor's appointments and to the pharmacy? Perhaps they could fill out their address to see what zone they live in. Then a smart phone APP could assign doctors' appointments based on where these patients lives. This way, vans could pick people up in a certain zone then transport them to medical centers to see their doctors. The bus organization would call people up just before these vans are about to pick them up...There is a problem of the elderly feeling isolated. If the same patients could ride these vans and wait in the same doctor's waiting room; they may make new social connections of like minded people. Thus reduce this feeling of isolation. These vans would transport people to the same pharmacy and grocery stores afterwards as other patients; who live in the same zone...If we are talking about transporting patients to specialists at major hospitals, they could organize new "bus trains" that are run on wheels. Perhaps 3-5 vans could transport people from certain zones to the major bus stops of "bus tains" on wheels. These "bus trains" on wheels would transport people from area zones to regional medical centers then back again. Again doctor's appointments at these regional medical centers, would be made by an APP based upon where these patients lives... Can these concepts create a better run bus system and at the same time reduce the feeling of isolation among our elderly? You be the judge. However these concepts just may work to consider.

We can't only look at transit as the solution to the problem you are identifying.  The isolation is a result of our sprawling development pattern of the last 50 years.  There is a clear need for more living choices for the elderly that are closer to the essential services they will require as they age - particularly choices that don't require long and expensive trips by either automobile or bus.

John P

July 25, 2012, 08:41:03 AM
Pretty offensive reading if you ask me.  To me it sounds like he's giving lip service to MetroJacksonville, but yet their planning department still seems so misguided and way behind the curve.

that's a bit harsh simms.....many of the people in the JTA Planning Department do know the deal on what needs to be done to take the agency and city to the next level....unfortunately, leadership at the top of the agency isn't quite there yet.

Where are they in finding a replacement for Michael Blaylock?

fieldafm

July 25, 2012, 08:42:17 AM
Pretty offensive reading if you ask me.  To me it sounds like he's giving lip service to MetroJacksonville, but yet their planning department still seems so misguided and way behind the curve.

Brad is quite an intelligent guy. 

I think the point that you may be missing is that JTA is facing a series of very large choices based on their limited resources (resources that will become even more scarce with the expiration of the gas tax).
   
My sincere hope is that in the face of dwindling funding (and clear market demand and nationwide trends) they choose to focus on improving transit infrastructure that improves the economic mobility of an emerging workforce and less on road building projects like widening Pecan Park Road.

Quote
My preference would be to see JTA provide high frequency service between our higher density nodes.  Connecting the urban neighborhoods to the downtown core would be a start.

Then look to the neighborhoods to assist with the funding of the local collection systems.  Everyone will say that they want such as system, but when faced with the prospect of paying extra, we will find out which areas really mean it.  There are creative financing solutions out there involving TIFs and BIDs that we have largely overlooked in Jacksonville.  Doing so would return local neighborhood control to a consolidated city that has arbuably been poor at managing competing interests.

Couldn't agree more.

tufsu1

July 25, 2012, 08:42:45 AM
from what I've heard, applicatiosn have been coming in and a short list is in process...of course, not surprising for JTA, nothing has been made public yet.

daveindesmoines1

July 25, 2012, 08:43:40 AM
dougskiles, I totally agree with you. However, many of our elderly have many memories of where they live and would not want to move so fast. However, eventually they will have to as time goes by. Are there ways to help our elderly stay in their homes longer until then. At the same time, we have a record amount of student loans debt. Is there a better way for college students to work their way through college so to not acquire so much debt? Can they help build ramps, install special baths with panic buttons, and rebuild kitchens in exchange for vouchers to tuition reduction. Are there other ways for our elderly to stay safely longer in their homes before they need to move? Finally, Cities need to create new programs to help our elderly adjust to finally moving once that time is near. Finally, I totally agree that our elderly will need to move to retirement villages as time goes by...

dougskiles

July 25, 2012, 09:03:25 AM
^ I am not necessarily talking about retirement villages.  An urban neighborhood with full commercial and medical services can significantly reduce the cost of transit.  The problem is that single family homes far from these services are so cheap that most can't resist the temptation to buy - not realizing that someday it results in a lifestyle that is too expensive to sustain.

We need to be promoting construction of affordable living options near the places that already have these services and not promoting continued sprawl (my lead in for ending the Mobility Fee moratorium...)

JTA is integral to this solution and needs to be leading the charge in promoting responsible land use.  Where are they in the Mobility Plan conversation?  So far, I have heard no official position.

cline

July 25, 2012, 09:11:25 AM
Quote
Brad is quite an intelligent guy.

I agree that there are plenty of intelligent people inside of JTA, no doubt.  Unfortunately, JTA leadership doesn't listen these people and that keeps us stuck where we were decades ago.  Meanwhile, our peer cities move farther and farther ahead of us. 

Quote
   
My sincere hope is that in the face of dwindling funding (and clear market demand and nationwide trends) they choose to focus on improving transit infrastructure that improves the economic mobility of an emerging workforce and less on road building projects like widening Pecan Park Road.

Perhaps JTA should be completely dismantled and rebuilt as an actual transit agency rather than a road building agency that does transit on the side. 

Captain Zissou

July 25, 2012, 09:18:04 AM
Does anyone else find the article title ironic?

cline

July 25, 2012, 09:21:03 AM
^lol, that's good :)

Fallen Buckeye

July 25, 2012, 09:25:34 AM
I have to play devil's advocate here. Jacksonville has many areas rife with poverty whose citizens depend on public transportation for their livelihood. To me, increasing frequency of service in high density areas like Riverside and San Marco is a luxury, and providing dependable transit to a wide area (because poverty has a wide footprint in Jax) is essential and should be our first priority. Planning for frequent service that encourages dense growth is important, too, but only after we make sure those most in need are taken care of.

cline

July 25, 2012, 09:41:33 AM
I have to play devil's advocate here. Jacksonville has many areas rife with poverty whose citizens depend on public transportation for their livelihood. To me, increasing frequency of service in high density areas like Riverside and San Marco is a luxury, and providing dependable transit to a wide area (because poverty has a wide footprint in Jax) is essential and should be our first priority. Planning for frequent service that encourages dense growth is important, too, but only after we make sure those most in need are taken care of.

I think you can have both.  I don't think anyone is arguing that we should discontinue service to the transit dependent.  I think it should be improved (and there are many ways to improve the current system to make it more efficient that wouldn't cost a ton).  But we also need to move into servicing choice riders as well- giving people more options. 

As it stands now JTA spreads itself too to do anything well.  They operate the transit system, they also want to build roads, and now, they want to become some regional entity as well- so they can build "regional" roads.

fieldafm

July 25, 2012, 10:01:15 AM
Quote
I think you can have both.  I don't think anyone is arguing that we should discontinue service to the transit dependent.  I think it should be improved (and there are many ways to improve the current system to make it more efficient that wouldn't cost a ton).  But we also need to move into servicing choice riders as well- giving people more options. 

As it stands now JTA spreads itself too to do anything well.  They operate the transit system, they also want to build roads, and now, they want to become some regional entity as well- so they can build "regional" roads.

+1.  They didn't need tons of money to implement BRT on the Northside(a service that is largely serving transit dependent riders).  They could have easily implemented better frequency service for far less money that didn't include fancy things like signal jumps, real time traffic updates at traffic stations (they have been offered a cell phone based platform for free by a local software developer) and the like.  You could just as easily 're-brand' busses that doesn't need rely on things like federal money, instead opting to apply for federal money for proven community builders and economic drivers like fixed transit.  That also has the effect of creating affordable housing options in the historical core neighborhoods, incidentally.

dougskiles

July 25, 2012, 10:27:50 AM
I have to play devil's advocate here. Jacksonville has many areas rife with poverty whose citizens depend on public transportation for their livelihood. To me, increasing frequency of service in high density areas like Riverside and San Marco is a luxury, and providing dependable transit to a wide area (because poverty has a wide footprint in Jax) is essential and should be our first priority. Planning for frequent service that encourages dense growth is important, too, but only after we make sure those most in need are taken care of.

The number one problem with providing "coverage" service to those who are living in low density areas is that it is incredibly expensive and the users aren't able to pay for it.  High frequency service for choice riders is much more economically sustainable for the system provider.  We live in a city with a very low appetite for supporting transit services that require a near 100% subsidy.

But - the high proverty areas that you reference are some of our more dense areas, too.  So we can provide good service to them with the high-frequency model.  The neighborhoods that I am questioning are the Southside, Westside and Mandarin areas.  A few high-frequency routes on the major corridors is all that JTA should be providing to these areas.

Fallen Buckeye

July 25, 2012, 10:45:32 AM
Ok, I see what you're saying, Doug, and I agree. I just made the assumption that you were talking about improving frequency of service to primarily in the comparatively more affluent, dense neighborhoods because those places tend to dominate discussions on MJ.

PeeJayEss

July 25, 2012, 11:33:28 AM
dougskiles, I totally agree with you. However, many of our elderly have many memories of where they live and would not want to move so fast. However, eventually they will have to as time goes by. Are there ways to help our elderly stay in their homes longer until then. At the same time, we have a record amount of student loans debt. Is there a better way for college students to work their way through college so to not acquire so much debt? Can they help build ramps, install special baths with panic buttons, and rebuild kitchens in exchange for vouchers to tuition reduction. Are there other ways for our elderly to stay safely longer in their homes before they need to move? Finally, Cities need to create new programs to help our elderly adjust to finally moving once that time is near. Finally, I totally agree that our elderly will need to move to retirement villages as time goes by...

This doesn't really belong in this topic...

Ok, I see what you're saying, Doug, and I agree. I just made the assumption that you were talking about improving frequency of service to primarily in the comparatively more affluent, dense neighborhoods because those places tend to dominate discussions on MJ.

Oxymoron?

CityLife

July 25, 2012, 11:58:13 AM
Great points Doug and others. I'm going to go slightly OT and say that I almost vomited in my mouth when I came to MJ and saw the pic of the JRTC. After the courthouse debacle, we can't allow anymore ugly civic architecture in downtown. People say the courthouse is Stalinist or Speeresque. Well the JRTC looks like 1992 Dubuque, Iowa. Simply unacceptable for Jacksonville.

PeeJayEss

July 25, 2012, 12:18:49 PM
Great points Doug and others. I'm going to go slightly OT and say that I almost vomited in my mouth when I came to MJ and saw the pic of the JRTC. After the courthouse debacle, we can't allow anymore ugly civic architecture in downtown. People say the courthouse is Stalinist or Speeresque. Well the JRTC looks like 1992 Dubuque, Iowa. Simply unacceptable for Jacksonville.

Poor Dubuque... :'(

JFman00

July 25, 2012, 12:31:46 PM
So near the beginning, they say the must continue to support roadway capacity improvements (not "simply... a balance between roads and mass transit"). Then they say the focus on roadway investment is "alleviating bottlenecks, improving airport/seaport access and freight mobility, and smaller scale roadway enhancements to support and integrate transit with the pedestrian environment". Is there any transportation interest they aren't pandering to?

Also, as far as I'm concerned, if the "dedicated" bus lane is one that cars have access too, it's not dedicated, and it's not BRT. I think it's an important distinction since actual BRT can at least *feel* like fixed-route transit with all it's comfort and permanancy, whereas the American version is just an express bus route virtually indistinguishable from conventional bus service. How much harder would it be to put up some concrete barriers and how much more expensive for actual BRT stations?

On a more positive hope, I hope JTA does continue pushing hard for commuter rail and am optimistic that it can be done with a creative and pragmatic approach to funding (3P, TIFs, etc.).

peestandingup

July 25, 2012, 12:50:24 PM
I have an elderly parent that lives there in Jacksonville. She should not drive due to her eyesight. This story concerning mass transit for our aging baby boomers is very important. Can the following be implemented to create a more efficient mass transit for those who need to go to doctors' appointments, pharmacies, and grocery stores? Can the following help reduce the feeling of isolation among our elderly, as well? Can patients fill out a survey at the doctor's office for when and if they need transportation to go to these doctor's appointments and to the pharmacy? Perhaps they could fill out their address to see what zone they live in. Then a smart phone APP could assign doctors' appointments based on where these patients lives. This way, vans could pick people up in a certain zone then transport them to medical centers to see their doctors. The bus organization would call people up just before these vans are about to pick them up...There is a problem of the elderly feeling isolated. If the same patients could ride these vans and wait in the same doctor's waiting room; they may make new social connections of like minded people. Thus reduce this feeling of isolation. These vans would transport people to the same pharmacy and grocery stores afterwards as other patients; who live in the same zone...If we are talking about transporting patients to specialists at major hospitals, they could organize new "bus trains" that are run on wheels. Perhaps 3-5 vans could transport people from certain zones to the major bus stops of "bus tains" on wheels. These "bus trains" on wheels would transport people from area zones to regional medical centers then back again. Again doctor's appointments at these regional medical centers, would be made by an APP based upon where these patients lives... Can these concepts create a better run bus system and at the same time reduce the feeling of isolation among our elderly? You be the judge. However these concepts just may work to consider.

We can't only look at transit as the solution to the problem you are identifying.  The isolation is a result of our sprawling development pattern of the last 50 years.  There is a clear need for more living choices for the elderly that are closer to the essential services they will require as they age - particularly choices that don't require long and expensive trips by either automobile or bus.

And not to sound harsh, but the boomers should have thought of that. Now they'll get to experience first hand the god awful mess they helped create.

Ocklawaha

July 25, 2012, 02:27:49 PM
Ock-observations:


Quote
CHALLENGES AND OPPORTUNITIES

JTA’s Consolidated Plan has been developed in the context of key challenges and opportunities we face as an agency and a community.  These challenges include refining the agency’s role, economic competitiveness, sustainable funding, community characteristics and public policy context.

'Don't ask questions, just send money!'


Quote
Refining the Agency Role

A dispersion of population and employment away from downtown lengthens commutes, places greater demands on our roads, impacts our air quality, and challenges the delivery of public mass transit.

...And who's fault would that be?
 
Quote
In the future, roadway solutions will be more difficult and costly, and the imperative for stronger and more reliable public transit options will grow. Despite this increasing focus on transit options, we cannot simply abandon roadway capacity improvements in the future.  And we must plan for them together, not simply aim to find a balance between roads and public transit.


As long as 'public transit' means more rubber tires on an ever increasing roadway system, this is double talk, especially when one considers JTA'S solution is, um, more roads.


Quote
Economic Competitiveness

The transportation sector is a key player in the region’s economic recovery and long-term economic competitiveness. JTA’s transportation investments connect workers with employers, enhance the movement of freight and serve as catalysts for growth and development. JTA investments can support the movement of goods to, from and through our port, support and strengthen Downtown Jacksonville, and help attract college-educated 25 to 34 year-old professionals who tend to be drawn to vibrant, transit supportive urban areas and neighborhoods near the urban core.

As long as part of the agency's focus is 'supporting the movement of goods', it will NEVER be an effective transit agency. In order to have 'vibrant, transit supportive urban areas,' we need 'vibrant, supportive, urban transit.'

Quote
Sustainable Funding

Fortunately, JTA has made the best of the dedicated funding sources for building roads and bridges and operating mass transit.  However, the funding sources face severe constraints in the near future – the most significant of which is the expiration of the local option gas tax in 2016.

JTA exists to 'build roads and bridges and (Oh yeah, almost forgot) operating mass transit.' Elimination of the gas tax will have the effect of forcing this rogue agency into making a choice between being a road and bridge builder or a transit operator.


Quote
Community Characteristics

As we plan for the future, we must ask ourselves several key questions: How can we better coordinate with our regional partners to deliver regional transit options? How will we serve an increasing number of seniors who will be demanding more transportation choices while living in areas not easily served by transit? How can JTA be part of attracting a younger, less auto-centric generation that is looking to locate in active urban areas?

As long as the focus is being the lead agency in a 'regional transit system' Jacksonville will suffer from neglect. Serving seniors in 'areas not easily served by transit' shouldn't mean more roads and bridges, rather, it should mean, DIAL-A-RIDE. The plan to attract a 'less auto-centric generation' is more roads and bridges and more buses... BRILLIANT!

Quote
Public Policy Context

Fiscal, energy and environmental policy at the federal, state and local level will shape transportation policy.

No it won't, at least not as long as our transit system relies on gas or diesel.

Quote
There will also be an increased focus on reducing dependence on foreign oil and minimizing environmental impacts from the transportation sector.


The key word here is 'reducing' rather then eliminating. This is like putting on a pair of handcuffs and 'reducing' the handcuffs by adjusting the tension.

Quote
This will affect revenue available for transportation investments; state and federal funding priorities; the need to increase coordination between land use and transportation planning; and the fuel efficiency and emissions from transit fleets. It will also affect the level of investment needed for effective transit systems in urban areas to achieve national policy goals.

Why 'achieve national policy goals' when we live in Florida? How about a local goal of ZERO foreign fuel use? Why follow when we can lead?


Quote
CONTINUING A MULTI-MODAL FOCUS

Focus will be placed on projects aimed at alleviating bottlenecks, improving airport/seaport access and freight mobility, and smaller scale roadway enhancements to support and integrate transit with the pedestrian environment.

Translation: More intersections, more overpasses, more roads, with transit or pedestrian environment dead last in priority.


Quote
Additionally, the JTA Engineering function will support JTA’s Mass Transit and Strategic Planning departments through the development of projects such as Bus Rapid Transit and future commuter rail.

Lastly, JTA will work to identify future needs and then develop and prioritize critical transportation improvements to address those needs.

Ever notice that commuter rail and much less STREETCAR is NEVER mentioned without the insertion of the word 'future?' Perhaps because in a land where 'continuing multi-modal' means autos, buses and trucks, words like 'future needs' means complete disregard for the public's desires.

The public has spoken loud and clear that streetcar, commuter rail and Skyway are priorities and rather then work to develop a plan that embraces those desires, JTA has chosen to challenge them.


Quote
DEVELOPING A FIRST TIER TRANSIT SYSTEM

JTA will continue to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of the bus system by reducing route duplication, eliminating lower performing routes and focusing resources on the higher-demand corridors - while utilizing vehicles more efficiently.
 

Effectiveness, reducing route duplication and eliminating lower performing routes are often mutually exclusive. Think of a body's circulatory system, one has veins, arteries and capitularies, JTA wants to eliminate the capitularies in order to make stronger veins and arteries.

Quote
Improving coordination between paratransit services and community shuttles and fixed routes; integrating more routes into the Skyway; and implementing Bus Rapid Transit (BRT). 

While I applaud that concept of community buses and integrating more routes into the Skyway, BRT will not deliver a 'First Tier' system.

Quote
STRATEGIC INITIATIVES

...These include BRT; regional commuter rail; the Jacksonville Regional Transportation Center Regional; regional Park-and-Ride facilities; transit oriented development (TOD) planning and the Regional Transportation Study Commission.

WHAT?!! No streetcar?

Quote
Bus Rapid Transit (BRT)

The BRT will provide enhanced service with increased frequency, enhanced stations, branded buses, segments of dedicated lanes, traffic signal priority and possibly queue jumps at selected intersections. 

With fewer stops and more frequent service, the BRT will serve as a critical new element of JTA’s transit system - by providing a premium service on more heavily-traveled corridors that enables customers to move efficiently throughout the city.

Building into BRT that parallels a potential rail or Skyway transit route equals building redundancy. It's hard to imagine how BRT like the southeast corridor would attract more riders along boulevards where sidewalks are non existent.

Quote
Commuter Rail Planning

JTA is exploring the potential for commuter rail in Northeast Florida. 

Bravo! But I expect the north side route to morph into light-rail.



Quote
Jacksonville Regional Transportation Center

The Jacksonville Regional Transportation Center (JRTC) project will integrate multiple facilities and improve access to Jacksonville's public transit network. The JRTC proposes to connect local bus, intercity bus, Amtrak, commuter rail, Skyway, and bicycle and pedestrian amenities.


The JRTC does NOT and will NOT integrate the various modes of surface transportation in Jacksonville. The whole concept of a transportation center to realize the economies of sharing ticketing, waiting rooms, restrooms, food service etc. under a single roof. As long as the plan is to create 4 separate, stand-alone stations, the JRTC will remain the anthesis of a transit center.


Quote
Plans for a new intercity bus facility are moving forward and JTA is working with various partners to make the relocation of Amtrak to Downtown a high priority.

I've spoken with the Greyhound Lines CEO, he said they will NOT move into any station shared by carriers that do not pay their fair share of the costs. So unless Megabus, La Cubana and Red Coach can be persuaded to ante up, this is a use of public funds to create a station for Greyhound Lines ONLY. When past JTA directors said multiple carriers could use the bus station, they lied.

Quote
Regional Park and Ride Development

No argument that Park and Ride shouldn't be part of the plan, but getting to the lot may be a challenge if we don't include pedestrian and bicycle access.

Quote
Transit Oriented Development (TOD) Planning

JTA is developing strategies to promote compact, mixed-use development adjacent to existing and future transit facilities.
A TOD station-area master planning process is currently underway for the San Marco and Southbank area.  This will provide a template for future TODs around transit stations.


TOD is not a socialist experiment, TOD is developed by the private sector working with a rapid transit system. JTA planning 'mixed use' developments is a gross misinterpretation of what a TOD should be.
                     
Quote
Regional Transportation Study Commission

While the RTSC effort has a multi-modal focus, there is a strong interest in regional transit planning.  As the Northeast Florida region expands, the demand for regional transit will, too. 

Multi-modal = cars, trucks, buses?

Regional JTA = spreading the misery everywhere we go?


Quote
SEEKING INPUT

As previously noted, JTA’s Consolidated Plan includes much more than the agency’s strategic Initiatives.  It is a roadmap for the future of the Agency and we appreciate your input.
 

I really don't know why because the track record of the agency is complete and total disregard what the public wants. IE: did you see the word 'streetcar' anywhere in this article?

Quote
MetroJacksonville is home to some of JTA’s fiercest critics,

I'm your huckleberry!

Quote
but it is also home to people (many who are professional planners) who share our desire for and understand the importance of JTA’s role in a vibrant and growing city.  We hope you will join us on July 26.

Actually we 'understand the importance of MASS TRANSIT'S role in a vibrant and growing city, there would be few tears shed if JTA ceased to exist tomorrow.

All of this said, it would be a real hoot if everyone attending the event tomorrow came in and expressed the word 'STREETCAR.'

Quote
Article by Brad Thoburn, JTA Director of Strategic Planning and Research

Brad is one of the good guys at JTA but no doubt he has marching orders from the dark forces that possess this city. If we create a municipal street railway, Brad is one of a handful of JTA people I'd like to have on board. My responses are a response to the 'company line' transparent in this article and in NO WAY should reflect ill will toward Brad.

Kay

July 25, 2012, 04:44:24 PM
It does crack me up that buses and roads equal multi-modal in JTA's world.

daveindesmoines1

July 25, 2012, 04:48:48 PM
As a person with many relatives living in the Jacksonville area; can the following improve transportation for people and for goods?

Could major bus stops be set up at various parts of your city? It could be between major employers, medical centers, and residences. Then these long buses could dart through traffic using new diamond lanes. Vans could transport people from the areas around these major bus stops. Perhaps one diamond lane of highway could be painted for "bus trains" that run on wheels and for emergency vehicles. I just read that it is taking longer for emergency vehicles to reach accidents due to stopped traffic. These diamond lanes could be used by emergency vehicles to get there faster.

Input would need to be done to make the bus system more efficient. Surveys could be done to ask people of where and when they work. It could ask the times they would need transportation. It would also ask for other suggestions they have to make mass transit more attractive to ride. Perhaps coupons to various restaurants, football tickets and other attractions could be awarded to those who fill these surveys.   

What if a major hurricane is about to hit your area, can better neighborhood planning be done to prepare for when this to about to happen? Should more parks be set aside, dotting across Jacksonville, to be used as emergency staging grounds when necessary? These parks could be fenced off built with gates, to be enjoyed for those who live nearby. For times of emergency, like a major hurricane, these parks could be used as emergency staging grounds for area residents. They could drop emergency food, water and first aide by navy helicopters at these parks. The gates would then be used for crowd control.  Earth moving vehicles could also be dropped at these parks. The injured could be picked up from these parks. Perhaps new state of the art hospital and cargo ships could dock just offshore after the storm has struck. This way, supplies may be air lifted from the cargo ships to these new parks. And the injured may be air lifted from the parks to the hospital ships. This may prove more useful until all the roads are cleared of debris.   

Perhaps these parks could process emergency supplies faster by air than the traditional road way system before the storm is about to hit. Your local hardware and grocery store could set up shop at these parks by using prepackaged semi trucks containers. Sort of like how the military uses containers to set up a hospital near the front lines. These containers would contain cash registers to process debit cards for purchases, among other things.

Now I know some of these ideas may sound crazy; however, these concepts may prove useful. Since I have many relatives living in the Jacksonville area; I have a vested interest in how your community is designed. Are these ideas doable? You be the judge.

exnewsman

July 25, 2012, 05:07:50 PM

Could major bus stops be set up at various parts of your city? It could be between major employers, medical centers, and residences. Then these long buses could dart through traffic using new diamond lanes. Vans could transport people from the areas around these major bus stops.


JTA has four bus hubs - Downtown; Northside at Gateway Mall; Southside/Arlington at Regnecy Mall and Westside at FSCJ Kent Campus. JTA also operates 10-12 community shuttles that run in specific zones aroudn the city that connect with main line bus routes to go outside the zone.

Ocklawaha

July 25, 2012, 07:54:19 PM

Could major bus stops be set up at various parts of your city? It could be between major employers, medical centers, and residences. Then these long buses could dart through traffic using new diamond lanes. Vans could transport people from the areas around these major bus stops.


JTA has four bus hubs - Downtown; Northside at Gateway Mall; Southside/Arlington at Regency Mall and Westside at FSCJ Kent Campus. JTA also operates 10-12 community shuttles that run in specific zones around the city that connect with main line bus routes to go outside the zone.

5 if one includes Kings Avenue Skyway station, 7 if one considers Orange Park Mall and Avenues Mall where JTA buses meet and interchange passengers with Sunshine Bus and Clay County Transit respectively. All of these sites act as major hubs of the system.

DAVEINDESMOINES Interesting ideas. I'd suggest you read through some of our transit threads and articles, just click transit at the top of our pages.

Don't know if you know, but Jacksonville's transit system ranks well within the nation's top 100 in size. The Jacksonville metropolitan area is a little over twice the size of the Des Moines-Newton-Pella, Iowa metro, and we have the nations largest park system.

Hurricanes are of course always a clear and present danger, but being the western most point on the Atlantic coast means that most of them chug right on by, somewhere out at sea. All municipal, postal, police, fire, rescue, and transit vehicles are part of our civil defense network and any or all can be called on in an emergency.

Tell your family about MJ!

Bill Hoff

July 25, 2012, 11:20:42 PM
Anyone listen to the discussion about this on Tuesday's First Coast Connect?

When asked about the mobility fee issue, Mr. Thoburn basically said that he/JTA thinks it's the way to go...but didn't want to step on anyones toes about the moratorium.

thelakelander

July 25, 2012, 11:29:08 PM
Is it possible to do all the things that are mentioned in the article with the limited funding that JTA is facing in the future?

One of the questions JTA should be asking themselves is are they trying to be too much to too many, and getting so spread out in the process that they are mediocre at best in delivering on any of them?

To say that they will provide service to our entire sprawling city (coverage based) while also attracting choice riders (frequency based) may be unrealistic.  Any significant amout of money spent toward one goal will detract from the other.  There is only a small amount of overlap between the two.

My preference would be to see JTA provide high frequency service between our higher density nodes.  Connecting the urban neighborhoods to the downtown core would be a start.

Then look to the neighborhoods to assist with the funding of the local collection systems.  Everyone will say that they want such as system, but when faced with the prospect of paying extra, we will find out which areas really mean it.  There are creative financing solutions out there involving TIFs and BIDs that we have largely overlooked in Jacksonville.  Doing so would return local neighborhood control to a consolidated city that has arguably been poor at managing competing interests.

An overwhelming majority of people who live in the lower density areas have chosen an automobile lifestyle.  Money spent trying to connect them with transit service is largely wasted.  For those who need (or are choosing) a transit-dependent lifestyle, options should be provided for them to live and work near the transit service areas.  TODs should focus on providing affordable housing and attracting large employers.

+1000.  Put me in the camp of believing we're currently too over-extended when it comes to transit.  I believe focusing in on providing the best service in the urban core and spreading out from there, is a good method to explore.  Since the urban core includes the majority of the Northside and the denser chunks of the Westside, you'll still hit the lion's share of our transit dependent communities.

thelakelander

July 25, 2012, 11:31:28 PM
Quote
I think you can have both.  I don't think anyone is arguing that we should discontinue service to the transit dependent.  I think it should be improved (and there are many ways to improve the current system to make it more efficient that wouldn't cost a ton).  But we also need to move into servicing choice riders as well- giving people more options. 

As it stands now JTA spreads itself too to do anything well.  They operate the transit system, they also want to build roads, and now, they want to become some regional entity as well- so they can build "regional" roads.

+1.  They didn't need tons of money to implement BRT on the Northside(a service that is largely serving transit dependent riders).  They could have easily implemented better frequency service for far less money that didn't include fancy things like signal jumps, real time traffic updates at traffic stations (they have been offered a cell phone based platform for free by a local software developer) and the like.  You could just as easily 're-brand' busses that doesn't need rely on things like federal money, instead opting to apply for federal money for proven community builders and economic drivers like fixed transit.  That also has the effect of creating affordable housing options in the historical core neighborhoods, incidentally.

This is also a position I endorse.  We can make no-frills BRT style improvements overnight without breaking the bank.  Charlotte's Sprinter is a great example:



http://charmeck.org/city/charlotte/cats/bus/ridingcats/pages/sprinter.aspx

Ocklawaha

July 25, 2012, 11:44:17 PM
If they really want to 'conserve energy' and help our energy independence, then it's time to dump the pump at JTA, electric rail and buses are available off the shelf TODAY!

We can actually EXPAND service throughout the county using community bus services, at the same time we could build up the primary corridors with fixed transit.

mtraininjax

July 26, 2012, 08:26:10 AM
Quote
Brad is quite an intelligent guy. 

Yes he is, and he was the former Planning Director for the City of Jacksonville as well as operating under the staffs of Tillie Fowler and Mayor John Delaney. Brad is very intelligent and knows the workings of the City and State agencies, he also worked under the Florida Department of Transportation for a stint. Say what you want about the article, you will be hard pressed to find a person who has more knowledge about how the city works and the politics of getting things done. Mayor Brown could use more people like Brad on his staff.

cline

July 26, 2012, 08:55:40 AM
Quote
Brad is quite an intelligent guy. 

Yes he is, and he was the former Planning Director for the City of Jacksonville as well as operating under the staffs of Tillie Fowler and Mayor John Delaney. Brad is very intelligent and knows the workings of the City and State agencies, he also worked under the Florida Department of Transportation for a stint. Say what you want about the article, you will be hard pressed to find a person who has more knowledge about how the city works and the politics of getting things done. Mayor Brown could use more people like Brad on his staff.

Doesn't matter how much intelligence the staff at JTA has, leadership gets the final call.  That's the problem.

mtraininjax

July 26, 2012, 09:16:42 AM
Quote
Doesn't matter how much intelligence the staff at JTA has, leadership gets the final call.  That's the problem.

Agreed, there are some exceptionally smart and gifted people at JTA, but they don't get to call the shots. As with the City, we are led by our "leaders" or not. So the void at the top is striking, both at the city and JTA.   :-\

JaxArchitect

August 01, 2012, 02:23:11 PM
I have to agree with a lot of what I'm reading, especially the comments about needing to plan our cities and neighborhoods so that our necessary services are more readily close at-hand.  Our sprawl development mentality has made our lives much more difficult than they need to be.
Also, the building concept represented in the article is atrocious.  Typical for Jacksonville, it is a completely thoughtless group of buildings that look like they were designed by an engineer (no offense to engineers) rather than an architect.  And to try to make it fit the scale of the neighborhood a little better, they stuck a few strip malls in front of it.....and put some cute hip roofs on the towers (because that's the only way to make something attractive you know).  It's all just lipstick on a pig or whatever the saying is.
Assuming this project moves forward (I doubt it in Jax), I hope this gets a lot of scrutiny by the DDRB, although I don't have a lot of faith that they really have the (will)power to do anything but rubber stamp their approval.  Their typical approach to a bad design seems to be to get a few token concessions and then give in.

mtraininjax

August 04, 2012, 02:22:53 PM
Does Brad Thoburn of JTA look like Karl Rove? Separated at birth?
View forum thread
Welcome Guest. You must be logged in to comment on this story.

What are the benefits of having a MetroJacksonville.com account?
  • Share your opinion by posting comments on stories that interest you.
  • Stay up to date on all of the latest issues affecting your neighborhood.
  • Create a network of friends working towards a better Jacksonville.
Register now
Already have an account? Login now to comment.