Metro Jacksonville Responds to JTA, Mayor Peyton

August 25, 2006 13 comments Open printer friendly version of this article Print Article

Even Ottawa (King of BRT) is turning to rail. JTA officials believe their $21 million/mile BRT plan is cheaper than commuter rail and tout Ottawa?s 16-mile BRT system as a success. However, recent commuter rail projects in peer cities are coming in at under $10 million/mile and some as low as $2 million/mile. Unfortunately, it seems that officials are willing to spend over $700 million on a bus system that will not be operational until 2030, rather than seriously considering commuter rail.

At Monday’s Town Hall meeting, Mayor John Peyton and JTA spokesman Mike Miller suggested we take a look at Pittsburgh and Ottawa for successful examples of BRT. They also stated that they favor BRT because its more affordable than rail transit. However, there is a lot of information available that proves otherwise.


While Bus Rapid Transit supporters point to busways in Pittsburgh and Ottawa as successful, they won’t tell you that those systems would cost more than $50 million a mile to build today.

Also, when Ottawa’s system was constructed, ridership actually declined, partially due to the downtown congestion they created with hundreds of BRT buses clogging the streets with regular traffic. Ironically, Ottawa’s BRT ridership has increased since then because of a newly constructed rail line that feeds passengers into the busway. Pittsburgh’s system has also had its struggles as well.

Please don’t take Metro Jacksonville’s word for it, click on the links for proof:

Bus Rapid Transit - Not for New Jersey

Ottawa (Finally) Opts for Light Rail


During Mayor Peyton's (former board member of the JTA) response, it was reveled that he did not know the difference between commuter and light rail. While he was right in stating that light rail would cost more than Bus Rapid Transit, new urban commuter rail systems are half the cost of Bus Rapid Transit.

Capitol Metro Austin 1.45 million32 miles $90 million $2.8 million
Music City StarNashville 1.42 million32 miles  $40 million $1.25 million
NorthstarMinneapolis3.14 million 40 miles$307 million$7.68 million
Rail RunnerAlbuquerque797,94051 miles$135 million $2.65 million
Sprinter**San Diego**2.93 million22 miles**$375 million**$17 million**
JTA BRTJacksonville1.25 million  29 miles$611 million$21.1 million

** - San Diego’s proposed system includes removing existing freight rail, raising the line’s elevation, and then building a new 22 mile double tracked line.

Again, don’t take our word for it. These links will take you directly to their commuter rail websites:

San Diego

Commuter rail is cheaper than BRT because it uses existing rail lines, saving millions that would normally go towards land acquisition and construction of infrastructure. It is clear that JTA’s BRT studies focused on light rail and not commuter rail. At the very least, good leadership should seriously examine commuter rail and its benefits, considering it is half the cost of BRT and we are in a budget crisis.

For more in depth analysis of BRT & Commuter Rail in Jacksonville visit:

Metro Jacksonville’s BRT vs. Commuter Rail study

Recommended Videos:

This documentary draws lessons from other cities' transit expansion projects that should be applied to Baltimore's planning process.


This video showcases the 10th anniversary of the Dallas Area Rapid Transit (DART) Light Rail system.
Although this is a light rail system and not urban commuter rail, it emphasizes the massive success cities are having with rail transit. Unfortunately, it also emphasizes how far behind Jacksonville will be in 30 years with only bus rapid transit system.

The following video shows Toronto's Bus Rapid Transit interfacing with automobile traffic. Look Familiar? It should. JTA operates buses all over Jacksonville in this manner everyday.
One Toronto BRT commuter, after watching this video, commented, "I hate Viva (Toronto BRT). Look at the video, its not faster..YRT (regular bus) is right behind it. And they increased the fare to $2.50! Boycott VIVA"