Author Topic: It's Time for Some Real Talk on JTA's Skyway Plans  (Read 2601 times)


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Re: JTA Response to Modern Cities U2C Editorial
« Reply #30 on: March 11, 2018, 08:17:15 PM »
With that said, it is odd “Modern Cities” would post an editorial that appears to recommend reliance on old, antiquated technology, with a heavy reliance on costly infrastructure.  The U2C program proposes a cutting-edge high tech solution that can revolutionize public transit and invigorate our Downtown.

This from the agency that convinced an entire city that Streetcars 'Must operate in mixed traffic in the street,' and that Light-Rail would never catch on because 'Monorail's are the trains of the future.'

The editorial states the U2C is in a “meltdown.” This statement is out of touch with reality.

The meltdown has nothing to do with your 'media attention or stardom,' and everything to do with your not finishing the last great idea (Skyway) to even a semblance of what was promised, failing horribly and are now threatened with re-equipping or paying cash for the mistake. Suddenly in crisis mode, we'll simply put a last/first mile solution on a directionally limiting track and call it success.

#5 Capacity
The editorial is critical of the potential vehicles and capacity. The selection of the future vehicle and its service plan is very important and critical analysis on this matter is ongoing...We expect different manufacturers to provide a variety of capacity options.

Just as we expected JTA to complete the Skyway to UF Hospital/8Th Street, to the Stadiums, to Riverside and to Atlantic in San Marco.

While we have not settled on desired vehicle capacity, it is important to keep in mind that we plan to run the vehicles individually or in trainsets, in response to demand.  We may even have different sized vehicles to address different types of services.  For example, a smaller vehicle might be more appropriate when we extend into neighborhoods with on-demand service integrated into the circulator system... A minimum requirement of the new system is that it provide more capacity than the existing Skyway.

If a 3500 Passenger Per Direction Per Hour Monorail train is capable of 50 mph (as ours was said to be tested at) how many 25 MPH AV-PODS will it take to reach 7000 passengers per direction per hour? With 24 seats costing as much as a new city bus, this retrofit is going to cost us big time and when it fails to act or perform as well as a train, monorail or streetcar in exclusive lanes is going to look pretty sweet.

#4 Dedicated Lanes
Based on traditional technology, it is true that the elevated system provides the most reliable service.  It is also the most expensive and intrusive. We believe the strategy of using the existing elevated system and ground level extensions, with new technology, will be the most cost effective approach...

...Again, the line of reasoning from the Modern Cities is based on an old way of thinking.  In the future, we need to use technology to create multimodal corridors that maximize infrastructure capacity....

When a Light-Rail vehicle approaches a crossing along a existing rail corridor such as the Shipyards-Gateway Plaza, lights flash and gates go down, the trains reach as much as 60 MPH in many cities. Only in Jacksonville do those corridors remain abandoned scars or bike trails because JTA refuses to use 'traditional proven technologies.' We reinvented the wheel with a horizontal elevator from no-where to nothing in the 1980's when we would have been the third city to embrace Light-Rail, and when that failed we switched to the Skyway Monorail in 2000 because that technology was so much smarter then Streetcars which JTA told our political leadership; 'Must run in streets with mixed traffic...' Now we've quietly removed rail from 'future projects' because we have another new technology and anyone not buying into it is 'behind the times...' Sorry JTA but I've been 'Behind the times since George Harmon and I crafted the first prediction of the Skyway's failure 30+ years ago.

#3 Economic Development
The current Skyway has not driven economic development as envisioned because it was not fully built out. The system serves as a last mile connector for bus service and Park-n-Ride to Downtown employment.  We need a circulator system that ties origins and destinations for complete trips.  A system that connects residential, commercial and employment will support the vision for a strong and vibrant Downtown.

Finally something I can almost agree with, but only because JTA has fumbled the ball in such a monumental way. True the Skyway was never finished. Also true it serves as a last-mile connector and a pretty poor one at that because it doesn't touch the east side of downtown. We do need a circulator and that is exactly what the AV-POD's are designed for. So straightening this out we have a Monorail, designed as a regional rapid transit/mass transit trunk-line carrier, doing the job of AV's and Taxi's because that is as far as it ever got.

Imagine using economical Monorail expansion (meaning we don't build an elevated road, lay a monorail beam on it and surround it with walls) to push the original system into the most dense and close-in urban neighborhoods, Durkeeville (North Line), Woodstock/Farm Market (Intermodal Station Line), 5-Points (Brooklyn Line), San Marco @ Atlantic (South Line), Stadiums (East Bay Street Line). Next compliment this with our higher quality First Coast Flyer (which is great but not BRT by any international standard) and add the AV's in the downtown grid from Myrtle to I-95 South to Talleyrand to State and Union Streets offering door to door pick up and delivery. Round the whole thing up with regular city buses and a few longer distance Motor Coaches to the Beaches/Clay/Nassau etc... and we'd have a real functional expandable transit system. Making another horizontal elevator out of the Skyway is a recipe for disaster.

Tying an economic development strategy around the U2C program is important.  JTA is working with the DIA to create a plan for the redevelopment of LaVilla around the Jacksonville Regional Transportation Center (JRTC) and a similar effort is needed for the U2C.

You simply cannot continue to copy the oft tried BRT ploy of creating the system then building 6 publicly funded buildings and calling it 'Economic Development,' this is what Clevelands Health Line did and it's smoke and mirrors at best.

The Modern Cities editorial seems to suggest that extending the elevated system is a better approach. We strongly disagree, as this will result in a costly, geographically limited system that lacks scalability, is based on antiquated technology and does not connect into the neighborhoods around Downtown.  In our opinion,  that is not the best approach to generate economic development.

While I cannot speak for everyone at MetroJacksonville or Modern Cities JTA should be aware that we have promoted the idea of using fixed rail, Ultra-Light-Rail and/or exclusive lane streetcar since the inception. Large, high capacity, electric transit that can use a great deal of proven technology. Removing the Monorail beam and replacing it with rails offers us a selection of vehicle size, shape and complexity ranging for 100 year old cars to the newest types installed for recent world events. True economics? How long does an AV in daily use last? The BRT buses come with a 12 year or 500K life expectancy. Dallas, New Orleans, San Francisco and other cities have Light Rail cars in daily service at or beyond their 100Th birthday.

#2 Captive Audience
JTA developed the current system plan based on extensive public outreach and engagement.  We received critical direction from the Skyway Advisory Group to build flexibility into the system to allow JTA to respond to customer needs, as conditions warrant.  The concept is to develop a system that is scalable and expandable to better accommodate the needs of the community.

JTA's outreach has always been a one-way street. Since the article by George Harmon, the agency has consistently held endless public meetings and workshops and then done whatever they propose to do anyway. Rarely has public input mattered because if it did we'd be a leading city today with Light-Rail lines reaching Orange Park and perhaps the Beaches and we'd be talking about the U2C as the solution to first and last mile.

If we want to create a truly “Modern City”, it’s time to get on board and help make the U2C a reality.

With so much effort in trying to explain how the authors were behind the times because they don't believe turning our Monorail into another road is a good idea perhaps we should mention that first high-tech road, the Via Appia was built in 312 BC.

Yep, JTA, even with Nat Ford's staff, is doing the same thing they did 30 years ago. They've convinced themselves that they are ahead of the times, but they are putting all of their eggs in the automated vehicle basket. At least, the government had some of the credit for the Skyway. This will be an all-JTA blunder!

There is no use trying to convince JTA to go after other options. They are going to do what they want. Jax always had to learn the hard way when something doesn't work. I would rather them build one Skyway elevated beam at a time toward the Stadium than to put this robot bus in service.

Jax is going to look like a backwoods city trying to play like it is modern one more time. Doesn't Gillig make a "Commuter" version of the buses that you already have?

Commuter Rail would be a better option than this robot bus. The people of the whole region could use the system


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Re: It's Time for Some Real Talk on JTA's Skyway Plans
« Reply #31 on: March 11, 2018, 10:07:47 PM »
I personally don't have a problem with them exploring AVs a replacement technology to the current Skyway vehicles. Regardless of the technology desired, the devil is always in the details.

For example, there's a tall ship sitting next to the Main Street Bridge right now. This is the type of ship that a bridge (as illustrated in the U2C renderings) would prohibit from ever coming into the heart of the downtown waterfront ever again. This tall ship has a max height of 130 feet. If you did build a bridge with that type of clearance below, you'd be spending more money to construct it alone, then just about every transit solution you could seriously consider for the Skyway's future.

Sail Jacksonville was one of the coolest festivals I've ever witnessed in downtown Jacksonville since I've been living in town. It was a perfect example of an event that made the river pretty interactive, regardless of if you were a resident with or without a boat. It's also something that would not ever again be feasible with a new river crossing that's lower than the Main Street and Hart Bridges.  I wouldn't desire that type of limitation on downtown's waterfront regardless of if we were talking about AVs, LRT, heavy rail, BRT or an extension of the Skyway "as is".

"A man who views the world the same at 50 as he did at 20 has wasted 30 years of his life.” - Muhammad Ali


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Re: It's Time for Some Real Talk on JTA's Skyway Plans
« Reply #32 on: March 12, 2018, 06:13:45 PM »
That JTA feels the need to attack the messenger, is all the more proof that these U2C renderings are part of a gigantic public relations strategy... rather than a serious transit strategy.

BTW, describing "critical direction from the Skyway Advisory Group" as public outreach is downright insulting. The fact is, the Skyway Advisory Group was hand-picked by JTA and was comprised of individuals who are receiving direct financial benefits from the taxpayer-funded 'test track' along Bay Street.  That's not called 'public outreach'... that's called political cronyism and pork.