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JTA Skyway: Nation's Fastest Growing Rail System!

Long known as Jacksonville's white elephant, the JTA Skyway has a new accolade to add to it's list. According to American Public Transportation Association (APTA), over the last year, our own much maligned Skyway was the nation's fastest growing fixed mass transit system in terms of average weekday ridership over the first three quarters of 2012.

Published January 7, 2013 in Transit      61 Comments    Open printer friendly version of this article Print Article


feature

Top 10 Rail-based Mass Transit Systems by Ridership Growth in America


1. > +100% JTA Skyway - Automated Guideway Transit (AGT)

5,100 (daily passengers) - 2.5 miles (route length) - Jacksonville, FL (major city served)


2. > +100% - The Tide - Light Rail Transit (LRT)

6,700 - 7.4 miles - Norfolk, VA


3. +33.70% - RTA Trolley - Streetcar

4,900 - 6.7 miles - Memphis, TN


4. +19.65% - UTA TRAX - LRT

56,900 - 35.3 miles - Salt Lake City, UT


5. +15.62% - Capital MetroRail - Commuter rail

1,700 - 32 miles - Austin, TX


6. +13.66% - Los Angeles County Metro Rail - LRT

200,300 - 70.4 miles - Los Angeles, CA


7. +13.48% - The T - LRT

28,400 - 26.2 miles - Pittsburgh, PA



8. +12.34% - Caltrain - Commuter rail

48,400 - 77 miles - San Francisco/San Jose, CA


9. +11.15% - Central Line and South Lake Union Streetcar - LRT/Streetcar

31,721 - 16.9 miles - Seattle, WA


10. +10.80% - RTA Rapid Transit - Heavy Rail Transit (HRT)

--,--- - 19 miles - Cleveland, OH

Source: http://www.apta.com/resources/statistics/Documents/Ridership/2012-q3-ridership-APTA.pdf



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What Does All This Mean?


Want to really drive up the Skyway's usage?  Start focusing on its connectivity with nearby future downtown development, such as Brooklyn's 200 Riverside and Riverside Place.

So after two decades in operation, averaging only 1,700 riders per day, our Skyway became a nation wide laughing stock.  In less than a year after making it free fare and eliminating several duplicate bus routes, ridership increases +100%.

One could argue that this is a text book example of doing more with less by simply better utilizing the assets and infrastructure we already have in our possession. Perhaps the Skyway isn't the problem we make it out to be. Instead could Jacksonville's tradition of not being highly receptive to innovation and creativity be the culprit holding it back?


Article by Ennis Davis. Contact Ennis Davis at edavis@metrojacksonville.com







61 Comments

Noone

January 07, 2013, 06:49:57 AM
Same could be said for our Waterways.

 3 hours out from a JWC FIND  subcommittee  for Projects within the new DIA/CRA.

We took fixed transit to Bay St. Pier Park.

Today provided a tactical urban spark that lead to epoch access and economic opportunity to our 310 mile long St. Johns River an American Heritage River a Federal initiative in our newly created Authority Zone.

duvaldude08

January 07, 2013, 10:17:38 AM
This is awesome news!

urbanlibertarian

January 07, 2013, 10:25:05 AM
If Winn Dixie started giving away groceries they could become America's fastest growing grocery chain.

thelakelander

January 07, 2013, 10:26:51 AM
Sort of like giving away free access to streets, highways, and parks?

urbanlibertarian

January 07, 2013, 11:35:41 AM
There's no such thing as a free lunch.

jcjohnpaint

January 07, 2013, 11:44:49 AM
But there are other funding mechanisms that could be tapped. I do think it does show the possibility is there when many said no one would ever ride it no matter what (It is not is Jax's DNA).  They were obviously wrong. 

peestandingup

January 07, 2013, 11:50:05 AM
There's no such thing as a free lunch.

Ah, the misguided libertarian response. I know cause I used to be just like you. And you're right, nothing's free. Real quick though. Do a cost analysis on how much you personally spend on car ownership, not just for you but your whole family too (if you're married). Now realize you have no choice but to pay that "tax" since you're in a town with almost zero decent public transit, biking network, etc that's actually usable. Then tell me how many times you've bitched about that "tax". I bet it hasn't been much at all.

Just FYI, it isn't "freedom" if you're practically forced to do something.

urbanlibertarian

January 07, 2013, 12:27:43 PM
Yes, travel by automobile isn't cheap but it's very convenient.

peestandingup

January 07, 2013, 12:43:58 PM
Yes, travel by automobile isn't cheap but it's very convenient.

Well sure. I guess it is convenient when you've built the entire system around the automobile. I.E. Forced everyone into the racket.

duvaldude08

January 07, 2013, 12:59:42 PM
But there are other funding mechanisms that could be tapped. I do think it does show the possibility is there when many said no one would ever ride it no matter what (It is not is Jax's DNA).  They were obviously wrong.

I believe it was said that the more people that ride it, the more federal money they can get. And can use that money to cover the cost of operating it fare free.

thelakelander

January 07, 2013, 01:04:34 PM
^Pretty much. You're not doing yourself any good charging 1,700 daily riders fifty cents each.

Mathew1056

January 07, 2013, 01:04:59 PM
Yes, travel by automobile isn't cheap but it's very convenient.

Tell a commuter in LA how convenient it is. In my opinion, Walking to a well stocked grocer at the corner of my block would be convenient. Taking 10 minutes to find my damn keys, turning my car on only to find I need a fill up, gassing up, driving at least 5 miles, finding parking, walking about a block to the supermarket door, stocking up for a week because screw doing this again within 7 days, loading the groceries, driving home, unloading the groceries. Yep, driving is much more convenient.

duvaldude08

January 07, 2013, 01:39:50 PM
^Pretty much. You're not doing yourself any good charging 1,700 daily riders fifty cents each.

Do any public transportation systems actually make a profit? Or is the goal to break even?

thelakelander

January 07, 2013, 01:52:50 PM
The goal is a quality of life benefit for the community.  Just like public schools, parks, riverwalks, and paved streets. You're not going to pay for the O&M of many transit systems collecting change at the fare box.  These things pay for themselves indirectly, when properly planned and integrated with supportive land uses, in the form of higher property values and a denser built environment.

Take NYC for example.  Imagine Manhattan without transit.  You'd have a ton of parking lots, more street congestion, a fraction of the built square footage and property taxes.

Lunican

January 07, 2013, 01:57:12 PM
Do any public libraries make a profit? Or is the goal to break even?

We need to do something about the money losing Fuller Warren Bridge. Actually, it turns out that all seven bridges aren't making a profit.

thelakelander

January 07, 2013, 02:00:41 PM
There's no such thing as a free lunch.

Correct.  This is why we're on the verge of bankruptcy now.  We're spending cash we don't have on road infrastructure we can't afford to maintain, yet refusing to allow the type of density needed to break even on those investments.  In the Skyway's case, I think you have to look at the larger picture than if 1,700 riders are paying fifty cents to cross the river.  Part of the reason for the increase is JTA has eliminated some duplicate bus routes.  Since you lose money collecting fares anyway, you actually save cash by eliminating duplicate transit services while still serving that core area. 

IMO, more elimination of duplicate services should occur and it should become a higher priority to redevelop properties around its stations.  We don't need to wait for a streetcar to get TOD off the ground.  We have eight Skyway stations we can play with right now.

stephendare

January 07, 2013, 02:02:50 PM
^Pretty much. You're not doing yourself any good charging 1,700 daily riders fifty cents each.

Do any public transportation systems actually make a profit? Or is the goal to break even?

The goal is to provide transportation.  Collecting fares provides a lessening of the cost.  But they have the same goal that highways and overpasses have. 

stephendare

January 07, 2013, 02:15:56 PM
There's no such thing as a free lunch.

Correct.  This is why we're on the verge of bankruptcy now.  We're spending cash we don't have on road infrastructure we can't afford to maintain, yet refusing to allow the type of density needed to break even on those investments.  In the Skyway's case, I think you have to look at the larger picture than if 1,700 riders are paying fifty cents to cross the river.  Part of the reason for the increase is JTA has eliminated some duplicate bus routes.  Since you lose money collecting fares anyway, you actually save cash by eliminating duplicate transit services while still serving that core area. 

IMO, more elimination of duplicate services should occur and it should become a higher priority to redevelop properties around its stations.  We don't need to wait for a streetcar to get TOD off the ground.  We have eight Skyway stations we can play with right now.

Lake this is one of the most succinct things youve ever written

exnewsman

January 07, 2013, 02:16:10 PM

IMO, more elimination of duplicate services should occur and it should become a higher priority to redevelop properties around its stations.  We don't need to wait for a streetcar to get TOD off the ground.  We have eight Skyway stations we can play with right now.
[/quote]

That Bay Street Station project that Carlton Jones was planning adjacent to the Jefferson Skyway Statation would have been a nice start. I wonder how many folks at the condos (San Marco Place, Peninsula, etc.) on the Southbank use the Skyway? They are just steps away. The recession and then the FFDOT Overland Bridge project stopped the Mike Balanky project next to the Hilton Hotels on Kings Ave. Another great opportunity lsot (or at least postponed).

stephendare

January 07, 2013, 02:21:05 PM

IMO, more elimination of duplicate services should occur and it should become a higher priority to redevelop properties around its stations.  We don't need to wait for a streetcar to get TOD off the ground.  We have eight Skyway stations we can play with right now.


That Bay Street Station project that Carlton Jones was planning adjacent to the Jefferson Skyway Statation would have been a nice start. I wonder how many folks at the condos (San Marco Place, Peninsula, etc.) on the Southbank use the Skyway? They are just steps away. The recession and then the FFDOT Overland Bridge project stopped the Mike Balanky project next to the Hilton Hotels on Kings Ave. Another great opportunity lsot (or at least postponed).
[/quote]

It would be nice to see some proposals or concepts on how best to convert the skyway stations into Transit Oriented Development Projects. 

For our readers who arent acquainted with the term, a TOD is a project that combines a transit element with the kind of 'development' that would be supported by transit.

Like a shopping center built into a subway station, or an apartment complex with ground level retail built right into the train station or an older example like the Five Points shopping district designed and built around the trolley stops.

JFman00

January 07, 2013, 02:29:50 PM
On TOD, it's not for nothing that Japan's transit operators make a great deal of their business from real estate.

Every time I'm on the Southbank I'm struck by how pedestrian unfriendly almost all of it is. A walk down Google Streetview shows you buildings set far back along the road with parking in between, and a sterile suburban road. Looks and feels much more like a suburban office park than an urban neighborhood.

stephendare

January 07, 2013, 02:32:17 PM
On TOD, it's not for nothing that Japan's transit operators make a great deal of their business from real estate.

Every time I'm on the Southbank I'm struck by how pedestrian unfriendly almost all of it is. A walk down Google Streetview shows you buildings set far back along the road with parking in between, and a sterile suburban road. Looks and feels much more like a suburban office park than an urban neighborhood.


They did in this country too.  most of the trolley lines were built by housing and commercial developers, not 'transit agencies'.  The trolley companies were real estate investors making their property useful by providing transit to the new buildings.  They never made their profits solely from fare collection.

Doctor_K

January 07, 2013, 02:33:09 PM
That Bay Street Station project that Carlton Jones was planning adjacent to the Jefferson Skyway Statation would have been a nice start. I wonder how many folks at the condos (San Marco Place, Peninsula, etc.) on the Southbank use the Skyway? They are just steps away. The recession and then the FFDOT Overland Bridge project stopped the Mike Balanky project next to the Hilton Hotels on Kings Ave. Another great opportunity lsot (or at least postponed).

I wonder how many MORE riders the Skyway would have if any of those condo towers had been planned and constructed INCORPORATING the existing infrastructure in some capacity.  As such, the towers are completely separate and across the street(s) from the actual Station, no?

thelakelander

January 07, 2013, 02:41:00 PM
^I doubt those new towers have had much of an impact.  They aren't integrated with the Skyway in any fashion.  Those would be examples of TAD or Transit Adjacent Development.  They simply happen to be within a quarter mile radius of the nearest Skyway station.

thelakelander

January 07, 2013, 02:48:55 PM
On TOD, it's not for nothing that Japan's transit operators make a great deal of their business from real estate.

Every time I'm on the Southbank I'm struck by how pedestrian unfriendly almost all of it is. A walk down Google Streetview shows you buildings set far back along the road with parking in between, and a sterile suburban road. Looks and feels much more like a suburban office park than an urban neighborhood.

Soon, you won't have to travel to Japan to find an example.  Keep your eye on FEC and their All Aboard Florida train they plan to have running between Orlando and Miami by 2015.  They are utilizing passenger rail in a manner that creates value and economic opportunity for TOD on land they own adjacent to the tracks.

thelakelander

January 07, 2013, 03:05:45 PM
Some examples of Transit Oriented Development (TOD):

Charlotte's LNXY LRT:






MARTA's (Atlanta) Linbergh Station:









Miami's Metrorail:






Miami Metromover (JTA Skyway's cousin):








Chicago El's North Clayborn Station:





carpnter

January 07, 2013, 03:11:52 PM
A free skyway downtown might not be a bad idea if there were lines from the suburbs feeding it. 

Tacachale

January 07, 2013, 03:36:02 PM
Nice. Some long awaited good press for the Skyway.

thelakelander

January 07, 2013, 03:46:21 PM
A free skyway downtown might not be a bad idea if there were lines from the suburbs feeding it. 
It's not a bad idea now and if we continue to work on the goal of an integrated mass transit system that serves areas outside of downtown, we'll reach the point you describe as well.

fieldafm

January 07, 2013, 03:58:07 PM

IMO, more elimination of duplicate services should occur and it should become a higher priority to redevelop properties around its stations.  We don't need to wait for a streetcar to get TOD off the ground.  We have eight Skyway stations we can play with right now.


That Bay Street Station project that Carlton Jones was planning adjacent to the Jefferson Skyway Statation would have been a nice start. I wonder how many folks at the condos (San Marco Place, Peninsula, etc.) on the Southbank use the Skyway? They are just steps away. The recession and then the FFDOT Overland Bridge project stopped the Mike Balanky project next to the Hilton Hotels on Kings Ave. Another great opportunity lsot (or at least postponed).

It would be nice to see some proposals or concepts on how best to convert the skyway stations into Transit Oriented Development Projects. 

For our readers who arent acquainted with the term, a TOD is a project that combines a transit element with the kind of 'development' that would be supported by transit.

Like a shopping center built into a subway station, or an apartment complex with ground level retail built right into the train station or an older example like the Five Points shopping district designed and built around the trolley stops.
[/quote]

Pasadena along the light rail line:

One side of building:



The other side



A TOD project at the next stop North of the above picture

Fallen Buckeye

January 07, 2013, 04:04:09 PM
Question: Do you think that with increasing ridership and elimination of redundancies that we should see an increase in TOD along the Skyway route that you would see with other fixed route transit modes? Obviously, there's a cost benefit in better utilizing existing resources, but if so I could see where success in stimulating TOD at home could be used to positively influence future planning decisions.

Also, I would say that measuring growth as a percentage could be a little misleading. Take SLC for instance. They grew only 19%, but, if I'm doing the math right, that's around 9,000 riders. Growth is good, but I wouldn't say that this train has "arrived" just yet.

fieldafm

January 07, 2013, 04:12:03 PM
Question: Do you think that with increasing ridership and elimination of redundancies that we should see an increase in TOD along the Skyway route that you would see with other fixed route transit modes? Obviously, there's a cost benefit in better utilizing existing resources, but if so I could see where success in stimulating TOD at home could be used to positively influence future planning decisions.

Also, I would say that measuring growth as a percentage could be a little misleading. Take SLC for instance. They grew only 19%, but, if I'm doing the math right, that's around 9,000 riders. Growth is good, but I wouldn't say that this train has "arrived" just yet.

Salt Lake kind of answers your first paragraph.  They modified land use policies to encourage TOD.

http://dc.streetsblog.org/2011/10/24/how-salt-lake-city-became-a-leader-in-transit-oriented-development/

Doctor_K

January 07, 2013, 04:53:05 PM
^I doubt those new towers have had much of an impact.  They aren't integrated with the Skyway in any fashion.  Those would be examples of TAD or Transit Adjacent Development.  They simply happen to be within a quarter mile radius of the nearest Skyway station.

I know - and that's what I was trying to get at.  Sorry I wasn't articulate.

My point was that if those towers had been constructed around existing stations instead of completely, physically separate of them, it might have made a difference.

Another opportunity lost.

exnewsman

January 07, 2013, 06:34:27 PM
^I doubt those new towers have had much of an impact.  They aren't integrated with the Skyway in any fashion.  Those would be examples of TAD or Transit Adjacent Development.  They simply happen to be within a quarter mile radius of the nearest Skyway station.


As I recall that's what the Bay Street Station project was attempting to do. The Skyway was going to be incorporated right into the project at teh platform level. I think it had a couple hotels, theater, offices. Not sure if that's one that will ever be resurrected or not.

I know - and that's what I was trying to get at.  Sorry I wasn't articulate.

My point was that if those towers had been constructed around existing stations instead of completely, physically separate of them, it might have made a difference.

Another opportunity lost.

Fallen Buckeye

January 07, 2013, 07:29:02 PM
Question: Do you think that with increasing ridership and elimination of redundancies that we should see an increase in TOD along the Skyway route that you would see with other fixed route transit modes? Obviously, there's a cost benefit in better utilizing existing resources, but if so I could see where success in stimulating TOD at home could be used to positively influence future planning decisions.

Also, I would say that measuring growth as a percentage could be a little misleading. Take SLC for instance. They grew only 19%, but, if I'm doing the math right, that's around 9,000 riders. Growth is good, but I wouldn't say that this train has "arrived" just yet.

Salt Lake kind of answers your first paragraph.  They modified land use policies to encourage TOD.

http://dc.streetsblog.org/2011/10/24/how-salt-lake-city-became-a-leader-in-transit-oriented-development/

I see what you're saying about land use policies, but haven't we done that to an extent here already with Mobility 2030? But on the spurring developing question, I was mainly wondering whether it would make a difference that the skyway is an elevated system that doesn't have the same street interaction as a street car for instance.

fieldafm

January 07, 2013, 08:02:35 PM
Question: Do you think that with increasing ridership and elimination of redundancies that we should see an increase in TOD along the Skyway route that you would see with other fixed route transit modes? Obviously, there's a cost benefit in better utilizing existing resources, but if so I could see where success in stimulating TOD at home could be used to positively influence future planning decisions.

Also, I would say that measuring growth as a percentage could be a little misleading. Take SLC for instance. They grew only 19%, but, if I'm doing the math right, that's around 9,000 riders. Growth is good, but I wouldn't say that this train has "arrived" just yet.

Salt Lake kind of answers your first paragraph.  They modified land use policies to encourage TOD.

http://dc.streetsblog.org/2011/10/24/how-salt-lake-city-became-a-leader-in-transit-oriented-development/

I see what you're saying about land use policies, but haven't we done that to an extent here already with Mobility 2030? But on the spurring developing question, I was mainly wondering whether it would make a difference that the skyway is an elevated system that doesn't have the same street interaction as a street car for instance.

Not really.  Zoning laws still don't match up to the goals of Mobility.  For instance, Tapestry Park was a PUD.  Southside should be filled with more mixed use developments like that and land use policies should encourage it.  Take for example how dangerous by design the commercial and residential developments are on Southside and Touchton.

In regards to your second set of questions... not really again.  Look at the TOD around Miami's Metromover or Detroit's People Mover.   Lake can post up pictures showing TOD can work with elevated guideways.  Difference there is the system is integrated and connected together.  Not just a spine with no arms/legs.

dougskiles

January 07, 2013, 08:25:08 PM
^I doubt those new towers have had much of an impact.  They aren't integrated with the Skyway in any fashion.  Those would be examples of TAD or Transit Adjacent Development.  They simply happen to be within a quarter mile radius of the nearest Skyway station.

I know - and that's what I was trying to get at.  Sorry I wasn't articulate.

My point was that if those towers had been constructed around existing stations instead of completely, physically separate of them, it might have made a difference.

Another opportunity lost.

I think the opportunity remains until JTA turns Riverplace Blvd into a dedicated BRT raceway.  The biggest issue I see with the condo towers and connectivity to the Skyway stations is the pedestrian environment on Riverplace Blvd.

This 5-lane road could easily be turned into a 3-lane Complete Street that leads to more street-level commerce and activity.  There is no where near enough car traffic to justify 5-lanes or dedicated bus lanes.  On street parking, bike lanes, a travel lane in each direction and a center turn lane with landscaped medians would transform the road and encourage residents to walk to the Skyway.  The parking on the street would provide more access to the Southbank Riverwalk that will hopefully start reconstruction this summer.

thelakelander

January 07, 2013, 10:05:03 PM
Not really.  Zoning laws still don't match up to the goals of Mobility.  For instance, Tapestry Park was a PUD.  Southside should be filled with more mixed use developments like that and land use policies should encourage it.  Take for example how dangerous by design the commercial and residential developments are on Southside and Touchton.

As fieldafm alludes to, the mobility plan resulted in some land use policies being changed within the city's comprehensive plan.  However, we still need to completely revamp our autocentric zoning code (the comp plan land use changes pave the way for this).

Quote
In regards to your second set of questions... not really again.  Look at the TOD around Miami's Metromover or Detroit's People Mover.   Lake can post up pictures showing TOD can work with elevated guideways.  Difference there is the system is integrated and connected together.  Not just a spine with no arms/legs.

Detroit Peoplemover:









fieldafm

January 07, 2013, 10:06:21 PM
^I doubt those new towers have had much of an impact.  They aren't integrated with the Skyway in any fashion.  Those would be examples of TAD or Transit Adjacent Development.  They simply happen to be within a quarter mile radius of the nearest Skyway station.

I know - and that's what I was trying to get at.  Sorry I wasn't articulate.

My point was that if those towers had been constructed around existing stations instead of completely, physically separate of them, it might have made a difference.

Another opportunity lost.

I think the opportunity remains until JTA turns Riverplace Blvd into a dedicated BRT raceway.  The biggest issue I see with the condo towers and connectivity to the Skyway stations is the pedestrian environment on Riverplace Blvd.

This 5-lane road could easily be turned into a 3-lane Complete Street that leads to more street-level commerce and activity.  There is no where near enough car traffic to justify 5-lanes or dedicated bus lanes.  On street parking, bike lanes, a travel lane in each direction and a center turn lane with landscaped medians would transform the road and encourage residents to walk to the Skyway.  The parking on the street would provide more access to the Southbank Riverwalk that will hopefully start reconstruction this summer.

Totally agree.  Riverplace and Prudential aren't your typical pedestrian friendly urban layout.  If it's not interesting to walk through... People won't (and don't) walk it.

And you're absolutely right about not needing a 5 lame expressway and dedicated bus lanes (parallel to the skyway) running through this area. 

See the Lancaster Blvd example:
http://www.theatlanticcities.com/design/2013/01/case-walkability-economic-development-tool/4317/

thelakelander

January 07, 2013, 10:08:23 PM
I think the opportunity remains until JTA turns Riverplace Blvd into a dedicated BRT raceway.

Unless, it's been delayed, I believe the downtown BRT project is expected to break ground next month.  It will include converting Riverplace Blvd into a street with dedicated bus lanes.

thelakelander

January 07, 2013, 10:18:28 PM
Downtown BRT plans for Riverplace Boulevard and the Southbank:



dougskiles

January 08, 2013, 05:27:19 AM
I think the opportunity remains until JTA turns Riverplace Blvd into a dedicated BRT raceway.

Unless, it's been delayed, I believe the downtown BRT project is expected to break ground next month.  It will include converting Riverplace Blvd into a street with dedicated bus lanes.

We may have a few more months before they start.  My theory is that until the shovel hits the ground, changes can be made to the design.  That doesn't mean they will.  But, JTA and City Council are soon to get an earful from the residents of the towers on Riverplace Blvd.

At the very least, the construction should wait until DIA has addressed this segment in terms of the CRA plan.

thelakelander

January 08, 2013, 07:19:49 AM
Also, I would say that measuring growth as a percentage could be a little misleading. Take SLC for instance. They grew only 19%, but, if I'm doing the math right, that's around 9,000 riders. Growth is good, but I wouldn't say that this train has "arrived" just yet.

I'd take them on a case by case basis.  Salt Lake City has 35 miles of LRT track that has been incrementally expanded over the last decade, as well as benefited from commuter rail and BRT projects added over the years, feeding riders into it.  So while a 9,000 jump in riders is great, they also invested hundreds of millions in expanding their fixed transit spine network, which is leading to the new growth as more and more areas of that metro become accessible to it.  Expect more Salt Lake City jumps this year once more commuter rail, streetcar, and LRT corridor expansions are completed.

Nevertheless, the Skyway's jump is highly impressive because we've witnessed a +100% increase without adding a dime to expand a short 2.5 mile line that hasn't averaged more than 3,000 over the previous two decades.  If we actually invested in our mass transit system we'd see similar increases as Salt Lake City, as reliable mass transit becomes accessible to more and more areas of the city. 

At the end of the day, I believe the Skyway's recent growth by simply changing how it is utilized, really does illustrate the potential of mass transit in Jacksonville, assuming we don't continue attempts to hold it back.  All of this kind of goes against the argument of those saying mass transit can't work here in Jacksonville or that the Skyway is a complete waste.  It probably would be just as effective as originally conceived if we work on following out the original concept of feeding it with a connected rapid transit system (sorry guys, our BRT plan is not real rapid transit).

Toddhigginbotham

January 10, 2013, 05:27:14 PM
Maybe if you add on to it and take it down to the sports complex, even more people will ride it.  You could then charge fares on days of special events.  You would probably make a profit and you would make traffic a lot better because then people would park and ride from other places in the city rather than all at the stadium.

exnewsman

January 10, 2013, 06:10:33 PM
Maybe if you add on to it and take it down to the sports complex, even more people will ride it.  You could then charge fares on days of special events.  You would probably make a profit and you would make traffic a lot better because then people would park and ride from other places in the city rather than all at the stadium.


A lot of people already do that with the stadium shuttle. Sure its a bus. But why spend $100M to extended it to the sports complex when you already have a viable transit option for that purpose and then only for what, 10-12 days a year. The Jazz Festival moved out of Metro Park. That leaves baseball games and concerts of which there is sufficient on site parking. If you added a hotel and/or some condos and other destinations in that area, then I think an extension would be warranted. Personally, I'd like to see the fairgrounds moved out and add a combination hotel/condo with an in-house restaurant and a couple boutiques. Similar to what they have in Dallas. You have the W Hotel two doors down from American Ailines Arena. Then across a parking lot from the arena is Victory Train Station (at grade). You add this concept to something at the Shipyards site and then you have multiple uses/destinations for the Skyway. Just my 2 cents.

Fallen Buckeye

January 10, 2013, 06:31:15 PM
I think that it is a good sign that ridership has increased, but it seems a little sensational to say that it's the fastest growing rail system even if it technically is true. Like you point out, the exciting thing isn't so much where it's gone in the last year, but how it gives you hope about what it could be with a few more tweaks.

thelakelander

January 10, 2013, 08:02:25 PM
Honestly, is it any more sensational than calling the system a failure for the last two decades, while also doing everything in our power to limit its usefulness.

Noone

January 10, 2013, 08:36:32 PM
I rode the skyway after the DIA Board meeting. Just went for a ride.

Coolyfett

May 06, 2013, 09:53:10 AM
The last two times I was in Jacksonville the Skyway was not even running. I wanted to ride it, but it was not running. Is this a good or bad thing? Ive always went on weekends.

Coolyfett

May 06, 2013, 10:01:07 AM
Sort of like giving away free access to streets, highways, and parks?
Im also of the opinion the Skyway should not be free, just fix the turnstyles and things would be good again.

tufsu1

May 06, 2013, 10:31:48 AM
^ It isn't that simple...JTA has upgraded their fare collection to a card-based system....the Skyway turnstiles would have to be retrofitted / replaced to the new system

JeffreyS

May 06, 2013, 10:52:45 AM
It should stay free it just really helps people understand what transits role is. Transit is so often punished for contributing to its own overhead and maintenance.  If it is free it takes away that stigma that we should be getting rich on the farebox.

Keith-N-Jax

May 06, 2013, 11:46:40 AM
Does anybody know how Miami runs it's Metro Mover for free?

thelakelander

May 06, 2013, 11:59:21 AM
^Via the public's vote to approve the People’s Transportation Plan (PTP) in 2003. The PTP was a referendum for a half-cent sales surtax to provide local matching funds for transit improvements in Miami-Dade County.

Keith-N-Jax

May 06, 2013, 12:39:42 PM
Thanks, I watched a cool video on you-tube about the metro mover. Its pretty extensive throughout DT Miami. Pretty much what the Skyway should have or hopefully becomes in time.

tufsu1

May 06, 2013, 03:52:33 PM
Does anybody know how Miami runs it's Metro Mover for free?

the surtax Lake mentioned....plus they've always had free transfers from metrorail to metromover

dougskiles

May 06, 2013, 05:13:07 PM
^Via the public's vote to approve the People’s Transportation Plan (PTP) in 2003. The PTP was a referendum for a half-cent sales surtax to provide local matching funds for transit improvements in Miami-Dade County.

Since sales tax can only be used for capital improvements, how can they spend it on operations?

thelakelander

May 06, 2013, 06:12:39 PM
Not sure. Why can't a sales tax be used as a dedicated transit funding source? At the time, when the tax passed, Metrorail service was extended to 24 hours/day.  However, 24/7 operations were cancelled due to low ridership.

Quote
Miami Consumers in Miami-Dade County won't start paying a half-penny sales tax for transportation until next year. But some commuters Wednesday were already enjoying the benefits of the $17 billion plan that voters approved by a 2-to-1 margin in Tuesday's election.

Fares on downtown Miami's elevated trolleys known as the Metromover are now free for everyone. People ages 65 and older, regardless of income, also can board Metrorail trains and county buses for free.

Quote
The free rides were two key components of the so-called "People's Transportation Plan," a lengthy proposal that promises to build eight new Metrorail lines, double the county's bus fleet and add 22 bus routes, and improve major roads such as accident-plagued Krome Avenue and streets leading into downtown.

The sales tax will increase Jan. 1 from 6.5 percent per dollar to 7 percent and cost the average consumer about $50 a year.

full Nov. 7, 2002 article: http://articles.sun-sentinel.com/2002-11-07/news/0211061340_1_bus-routes-sales-tax-citizens-oversight-board

dougskiles

May 06, 2013, 07:57:37 PM
I know that in Duval County, sales tax revenue can only be used to fund capital improvements.  Services have to be funded by user fees and ad valorem taxes.  I believe that is state law.

Gas taxes, however, can be used to fund operations and maintenance.

tufsu1

May 06, 2013, 08:20:11 PM
correct....so it is possible that Miami just switched some expenditures around...you know, paying for capital projects with sales tax money that was originally to be funded with other funds...and then use those funds to offset free rides

thelakelander

May 06, 2013, 09:13:02 PM
So did they break the law?

Quote
Alvarez said he understands the public's frustration. In an interview this week, the mayor said he was among those persuaded to vote for the tax when he was police director in 2002; he went so far as to convince his skeptical relatives to support it, as well.

The sales tax was supposed to attract billions in matching federal dollars, revolutionize the transit system and unclog the region's traffic-choked streets.

Six years and more than $900 million later, most of the money has been spent propping up routine operations at the county's deficit-plagued transit agency or on tiny public works contracts that have done little to improve traffic flow.


"Promises were made -- not by us -- that we couldn't keep," Alvarez said. "If my administration has a fault [in this], it's that we've taken five years . . . trying hard to keep these promises. But we have to face facts."

Alvarez recognizes there isn't enough money to come close to fulfilling all of the ambitious promises that former Mayor Alex Penelas laid out in the People's Transportation Plan.

"One plus one equals two. It doesn't equal four," Alvarez said. "It's time to move forward."

Shortly after the 2002 election, top county and transit leaders slid more than $700 million in additional projects into the spending plan that voters never considered, a Miami Herald investigation revealed this year.

Instead of "New Money for New Projects" the county was now paying to repair, replace and update problems that had not been dealt with for decades.


Commissioners gutted a Citizens Independent Transportation Trust from the outset, replacing it with a rubber-stamp advisory panel with limited powers that is often outflanked by top county managers and transit leaders.

Read more here: http://www.miamiherald.com/multimedia/news/transit/fallout5.html#storylink=cpy
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