Author Topic: Skyway Conversion Begins  (Read 6385 times)

marcuscnelson

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Re: Skyway Conversion Begins
« Reply #45 on: September 13, 2020, 11:55:10 PM »
I've got the Skyway on the brain right now, and I noticed this post:

My thoughts haven't changed from a decade ago.

1. The DIA and JTA should have a coordinated development strategy to cluster infill and adaptive reuse within the walkshed off every existing Skyway station. This should have been done years ago when the real estate market was booming. Now we may have to realistically wait another decade to reap the benefits of such coordination.

2. Open a no frills Brooklyn station. Just get it done. Not having direct access to the only booming area within the DIA's boundaries has been a big miss. Luckily moves are finally being made after declarations that it wasn't feasible and that it would be too expensive.

3. Find a way to run 7 days a week, even if it means running an on-call service of sorts on the weekends. You can't coordinate transit and land use if the transit pick and chooses when it will be made available.

4. Make and run the Skyway like a transit spine. This can be done by eliminating the duplication between bus service and the Skyway.....even with the newer BRT lines. We've eliminated some duplication with the systemwide modification project a few years back (one of the best things JTA has done recently, IMO) but we can trim more downtown.

5. Take advantage of the massive footprint of the existing Skyway stations. They are great opportunities for various types of businesses, could generate some minor rental income and more importantly, offer increased attraction to ride the existing 2.5 mile system.

6. I wouldn't not consider any expansion of infrastructure before handling the five items above. Then before potential expansion, we'd need to really figure out what the hell we're doing and expecting with AVs.

7. To better get a read on their acceptance and operations, I'd shift to a real life demonstration by running a pilot program between the JRTC (or Jefferson Station) to Five Points via Park Street. We need an easy straight shot with a viable seven day/week destination at the end point. Using Park Street to connect Five Points to Downtown is the easiest. Based on how this plays out, it will let you know a lot about how much time, money and effort should be spent in screwing with the Skyway's infrastructure for what could very well likely be another Skywayish gimmick.

The thing I'm wondering is, why isn't this something louder? Why isn't there an "Idiot's Guide To Fixing The Skyway" article? Why isn't that article getting pushed on all the social media networks and whatever news stations will run it? I guess in a broader sense, this site could really do better at telling people how easy these ideas are to implement, and how beneficial they would be. Sure, maybe we can't afford sexy renderings, but surely there's a better strategy to getting more people to see and agree with this stuff.
So, to the young people fighting in this movement for change, here is my charge: march in the streets, protest, run for school committee or city council or the state legislature. And win. - Ed Markey

thelakelander

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Re: Skyway Conversion Begins
« Reply #46 on: September 14, 2020, 08:08:33 AM »
Quote
I guess in a broader sense, this site could really do better at telling people how easy these ideas are to implement, and how beneficial they would be. Sure, maybe we can't afford sexy renderings, but surely there's a better strategy to getting more people to see and agree with this stuff.

Back in the day, I used to be more active covering transportation planning topics. However, I've worked full time outside of Jacksonville since 2017, which has limited the amount of coverage I can personally provide. Anyway, with COVID and working remotely right now, we're in the process of coordinating an interview with JTA to discuss their various initiatives. Much of what I will target will be things along this line and not typical press release type stuff we tend to get locally.
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marcuscnelson

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Re: Skyway Conversion Begins
« Reply #47 on: September 14, 2020, 11:04:58 AM »
That's fair. And good to know, some holding them to account would be nice.
So, to the young people fighting in this movement for change, here is my charge: march in the streets, protest, run for school committee or city council or the state legislature. And win. - Ed Markey

bl8jaxnative

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Re: Skyway Conversion Begins
« Reply #48 on: September 14, 2020, 11:42:19 AM »
Why isn't there an "Idiot's Guide To Fixing The Skyway" article?

The Skyway isn't broken.  It's working as designed. 

The - if it only went to <insert place> - rhetoric happens with all of the failed fixed-rail projects.   The ( antiquated ) technology is the problem, not the places served.

thelakelander

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Re: Skyway Conversion Begins
« Reply #49 on: September 14, 2020, 12:00:54 PM »
^The land use is broken. The technology doesn't matter from that perspective. JTA/COJ/DIA/DDRB, etc. need to fix that before spending big money on anything.
"A man who views the world the same at 50 as he did at 20 has wasted 30 years of his life.” - Muhammad Ali

jaxlongtimer

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Re: Skyway Conversion Begins
« Reply #50 on: September 14, 2020, 07:52:57 PM »
The Skyway isn't broken.  It's working as designed. 

The - if it only went to <insert place> - rhetoric happens with all of the failed fixed-rail projects.   The ( antiquated ) technology is the problem, not the places served.

The technology wasn't always antiquated and it still didn't deliver (not even close at 10% or less of "expert" consultants' projections for what was phase I and has been repeated over and over).  It hasn't delivered since the day it was built, additions were made, it was made free, etc.  And, it won't with the "new" technology that is a mere update of the failed technology (low capacity, slow moving, limited access, expensive to operate and maintain, questionable reliability, etc.).

In 20 years, people will still be laughing at this very expensive joke of a project which unfortunately is at the expense of taxpayers.  (Not-so-funny, we are willing to buy out the Feds on Metro Park and do the same for the Landing but wouldn't consider cutting our substantial yearly losses by doing so with the Skyway (politics tells me we should be able to wiggle out of this anyway).  No ROI analysis would justify keeping this alive.  I wish Curry and Co. spent the $39 million to tear down the Hart ramps on tearing this down.  It's the only demolition project he would have allowed that I could agree with  8).

JeffreyS

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Re: Skyway Conversion Begins
« Reply #51 on: September 14, 2020, 11:08:39 PM »


 It's the only demolition project he would have allowed that I could agree with  8).

Wouldn't the city have to pay back the federal money spent if they tear it down or has the time table changed on that front?
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thelakelander

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Re: Skyway Conversion Begins
« Reply #52 on: September 15, 2020, 08:27:02 AM »
Wouldn't the city have to pay back the federal money spent if they tear it down

Yes.
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jaxjaguar

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Re: Skyway Conversion Begins
« Reply #53 on: September 16, 2020, 12:34:22 AM »
Even if we didn't have to pay the fed back, tearing the skyway down would be the dumbest thing we could possibly do... For the cost to tear it down we could fully fund 2-3 massive residential projects along the skyways route. Obviously we'd never fully fund any projects like that, but when you spread that money out you could partially fund 3-4 residential projects that would boost the number of people downtown by 1500-2500 and still have money left over to do some nice improvement projects for local businesses, landscaping, lighting, etc.

marcuscnelson

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Re: Skyway Conversion Begins
« Reply #54 on: September 16, 2020, 01:06:40 AM »
For the cost to tear it down we could fully fund 2-3 massive residential projects along the skyways route. Obviously we'd never fully fund any projects like that, but when you spread that money out you could partially fund 3-4 residential projects that would boost the number of people downtown by 1500-2500 and still have money left over to do some nice improvement projects for local businesses, landscaping, lighting, etc.

That sounds exactly why this city would end up tearing it down. The political machine that has run the place since after Delaney seems to be allergic to the idea of responsibly spending taxpayer dollars to improve things. It's always Moon or Bust, with emphasis on the Bust.

Given that the apparent land use issue is being made pretty clear here, spending money to end up with nothing, although very in character, doesn't make much sense. If we had that attitude with roads, probably a third of the county would be kicking up dust to get anywhere.
So, to the young people fighting in this movement for change, here is my charge: march in the streets, protest, run for school committee or city council or the state legislature. And win. - Ed Markey

bl8jaxnative

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Re: Skyway Conversion Begins
« Reply #55 on: September 16, 2020, 12:17:49 PM »
The dumbest thing one could do was building the skyway.

The 2nd dumbest is expanding a colossal failure.   

Third dumbest not tearing down the skyway.


Anything done with it is nothing more than throwing good money after bad. 

jaxlongtimer

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Re: Skyway Conversion Begins
« Reply #56 on: September 18, 2020, 11:36:04 PM »
The dumbest thing one could do was building the skyway.

The 2nd dumbest is expanding a colossal failure.   

Third dumbest not tearing down the skyway.


Anything done with it is nothing more than throwing good money after bad. 

bl8jaxnative, we don't agree on many things but we agree 110% on this!

If people would add up the annual operating losses plus the continued investment to constantly "update" the system to keep it alive, we could easily justify its closure.  For those who think we couldn't weasel out of a penalty to the Feds, this should justify easily paying it based on the ROI.  Although, I think political pull should substantially reduce or eliminate said penalty making the decision to kill the Skyway even easier.

My other point is we are paying $39 million to tear down the Hart Ramps, $15 to $20 million to demolish the Landing, millions more to demolish the old City Hall and subsidize the District and Lot J/Shipyards and the ROI on those projects, if any at all, pales compared to the ROI for using said dollars on ensuring the demise of the Skyway.

If people want more dollars for Downtown, stop having them siphoned off by the Skyway.  It is also is a black eye with the City populace at large for Downtown, holding back public opinion/support for other "grandiose" Downtown projects.

thelakelander

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Re: Skyway Conversion Begins
« Reply #57 on: September 19, 2020, 07:50:45 AM »
The DIA isn't spending money on the Skyway, just like it's not paying for the upkeep of the Mathews Bridge, Mayport Ferry or JTA Flyer. If you want Downtown money, take a look at the parking subsidies we're paying MPS. That's more and does come directly out of the downtown budget. Also, the black eye of Downtown isn't a people mover. If that's the case, the same argument would apply to DT Miami and Detroit, where the Skyway siblings operate. The black eye is the emptiness of central business district itself. I get some don't like the Skyway, but let's be real about the true issues dragging Downtown down. Demolishing buildings, blowing DT funds on gimmicks like Lot J, killing things that worked like kids kampus, encouraging surface parking lots, not clustering infill development, not valuing preservation and local unique history, not investing in public amenities like parks, streetscapes, public education, etc. are the things that add up to negatively impact urban vibrancy. Skyway or no Skyway, keep doing these things and the place will still remain empty.
« Last Edit: September 19, 2020, 08:02:06 AM by thelakelander »
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jaxlongtimer

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Re: Skyway Conversion Begins
« Reply #58 on: September 19, 2020, 04:06:31 PM »
Lake, I fully agree with your take about issues with Downtown.

My point is that apart from these other issues with Downtown, the Skyway is not a viable project on its own merits, regardless of what happens with Downtown.  I never said DIA spent money on the Skyway.  What I am saying is funds, no matter the source, whether City, State, Feds, JTA, FDOT, USDOT, etc., for these projects detract from spending such funds on things that might benefit Downtown far more.

I get that Miami and Detroit have kept siblings going, but I am not convinced our Skyway is directly comparable due to the set up unique to Jacksonville.

I note that Miami's Metromover is free, connects to two Metrorail stations, has a loop route and may have larger cars.  Miami also has a far denser downtown around it that we are nowhere close to.  With all that, they get  about 30,000 riders a day per the article below.  They pay about 4 times our annual subsidy and get 6 times the riders.  If that is what Miami gets with all its advantages (free, density, connectivity, larger cars, etc.), we will never get enough riders to justify our investment.  I also didn't see mention of spending big bucks to further expand their "popular" system (see second quote below).

The Detroit system charges 75 cents but shares other advantages with Miami including its a loop and denser area.  Like Jacksonville, it has a fraction of the potential ridership promised at far greater costs than other modes of transit.  A move to expand it was changed to adding a street car line instead.  This experience is more similar to Jacksonville than not so Detroit is not an example of success. (FYI, Detroit closed down its system in March until further notice due to lack of ridership, from COVID, I suppose.  Can't be too vital based on that.)

MIAMI:
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https://www.bizjournals.com/jacksonville/news/2015/09/21/how-the-skyways-counterpart-is-a-big-success-in-a.html

Our Skyway's cousin is the popular one.

When Jacksonville's people mover got federal funding to construct the initial infrastructure, two other cities were also part of the automated people mover revolution: Detroit and Miami.

For as much as Jacksonville's system has languished, Miami's Metromover has flourished.

“It has its role in Downtown in easing mobility in Downtown Miami,” said Karla Damian, a spokeswoman with Miami-Dade Transit.

The service extends 4.4 miles. It travels throughout central Downtown Miami. It includes stops in the financial district, where there are high-end residences and commerce centers, as well as the entertainment district. One stop is just steps away from the arena where the Miami Heat plays.

“People love it,” Damian said. “It's widely used. They go from place to place Downtown.”

About 30,600 people on average board the Metromover on a weekday, she said. That's a 7 percent increase from last year. In comparison, the Skyway's daily ridership is about 5,000.

And while Miami is a much larger city than Jacksonville, Damian said it's still a significant chunk of people who are using the Metromover. The city's Metrorail, it's heavy rail system, has a ridership of about 70,000. The bulk of mass transit ridership goes to the city's bus system: 200,000 people boarding it per day.

The Metromover also connects to the Metrorail, which Damian said is similar to the heavy rail systems in Washington, D.C., or New York, but is elevated.

The Metromover consists of four large cars, which were last updated a few years ago. Bombardier, the manufacturer of the Skyway, made this version of Miami's vehicles. In 2002, Miami residents voted to have a half-cent tax increase in order to have the Metromover free to the public.

Damian said it costs Miami-Dade Transit about $22.5 million per year to maintain the system (the Jacksonville Transportation Authority budgeted $5.5 million for the Skyway for 2016), but the investment is worthwhile.

“In a sense of mobility, there's a return on investment,” she said. “It's easy for people to go from one place to another. It's convenient.”

Even with the above, an expansion to South Beach was moving in this direction vs. expanding the Metromover:

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https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Metromover

More recently, proposals for a separate, most likely at-grade, light-rail system known as BayLink have been revived.[23][2]

DETROIT:
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https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Detroit_People_Mover

....The Mover costs $12 million annually in city and state subsidies to run.[13] The cost-effectiveness of the Mover has drawn criticism.[14] In every year between 1997 and 2006, the cost per passenger mile exceeded $3, and was $4.26 in 2009,[15] compared with Detroit bus routes that operate at $0.82[15] (the New York City Subway operates at $0.30 per passenger mile). The Mackinac Center for Public Policy also charges that the system does not benefit locals, pointing out that fewer than 30% of the riders are Detroit residents and that Saturday ridership (likely out-of-towners) dwarfs that of weekday usage.[13]

The system was designed to move up to 15 million riders a year. In 2008 it served approximately 2 million riders. This meant the system averaged about 7,500 people per day, about 2.5 percent of its daily peak capacity of 288,000.[16][17] In 2006, the Mover filled less than 10 percent of its seats.[13]....

....There have been proposals to extend the People Mover northward to the New Center and neighborhoods not within walking distance of the city's downtown. A proposal was put forward by Marsden Burger, former manager of the People Mover, to double the length of the route by extending the People Mover along Woodward Avenue to West Grand Boulevard and into the New Center area.[24] New stops would have included the Amtrak station, Wayne State University and the cultural center, the Detroit Medical Center, and the Henry Ford Hospital. The plan was proposed at a tentative cost of $150–200 million, and would have been paid for by a combination of public and private financing.[25] It was ultimately decided that the system would instead be connected to New Center by a streetcar line following much of the proposed route....
« Last Edit: September 19, 2020, 04:28:24 PM by jaxlongtimer »

thelakelander

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Re: Skyway Conversion Begins
« Reply #59 on: September 20, 2020, 09:41:01 AM »
Lake, I fully agree with your take about issues with Downtown.

My point is that apart from these other issues with Downtown, the Skyway is not a viable project on its own merits, regardless of what happens with Downtown.  I never said DIA spent money on the Skyway.  What I am saying is funds, no matter the source, whether City, State, Feds, JTA, FDOT, USDOT, etc., for these projects detract from spending such funds on things that might benefit Downtown far more.

Not exactly. Federal money is just as likely to be spent in LA or DC as it is Jax. Orlando witnessed this when they rejected a proposed LRT system that would have been 75% federally and state funded. The federal portion of that lost money went to Charlotte's initial LRT line. 20 years later, Orlando is still wishing for LRT.

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I get that Miami and Detroit have kept siblings going, but I am not convinced our Skyway is directly comparable due to the set up unique to Jacksonville.

Now you're getting to what I've been trying to say about downtown. The differences between Downtown Miami, Detroit and Jax is leadership around land use, zoning and clustering, complementing uses within a compact setting. Mobility isn't the primary issue with these systems and they certainly aren't prohibiting any type of downtown development in any city.

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I note that Miami's Metromover is free, connects to two Metrorail stations, has a loop route and may have larger cars.  Miami also has a far denser downtown around it that we are nowhere close to.  With all that, they get  about 30,000 riders a day per the article below.  They pay about 4 times our annual subsidy and get 6 times the riders.  If that is what Miami gets with all its advantages (free, density, connectivity, larger cars, etc.), we will never get enough riders to justify our investment.  I also didn't see mention of spending big bucks to further expand their "popular" system (see second quote below).

The people mover is intended to be a downtown circulator that is fed ridership from the larger network. In the case of Miami, it not only built the metromover in the 1980s, it also got metrorail built between Hialeah and Dadeland. Metromover was also built to end at destinations to the north (Omni Mall) and south (Brickell Financial District) of the CBD. Miami also changed its zoning code to a form-based code 20 years ago and pushes transit oriented development around its stations. So what was called metrofail back in the early 1990s is now an important part of its multimodal network because of coordinated land use strategies.  Also, public transit doesn't make money. By the same token, neither does I-95, Main Street, the Acosta Bridge, Jax-Baldwin Rail Trail, etc. If you're going to start looking at direct subsidies, you'll need to include the property tax revenue generated from the high density TOD that has been built in the pedestrian walk shed of Miami's Metromover and Metrorail stations. You don't get that type of density without the transportation network in place to support it.

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The Detroit system charges 75 cents but shares other advantages with Miami including its a loop and denser area.  Like Jacksonville, it has a fraction of the potential ridership promised at far greater costs than other modes of transit.  A move to expand it was changed to adding a street car line instead.  This experience is more similar to Jacksonville than not so Detroit is not an example of success. (FYI, Detroit closed down its system in March until further notice due to lack of ridership, from COVID, I suppose.  Can't be too vital based on that.)

I'm not here to defend cooked up consultant ridership numbers from the 1970s. I've always been the person in my field to recommend being honest and transparent with these studies. Agencies should stop telling the public that these projects are going to be transformational and lead to crazy numbers. As for Detroit, the people mover is a one way loop, which can get pretty annoying if you want to go in the opposite direction. Unlike Miami and Jax, Detroit was already 30 years into an economic free fall when the people mover opened. However, they didn't go as crazy as we did with the downtown demos in the 1990s and 2000s. Detroit is still falling in population but downtown has rebounded quite well in the 2000s and the adaptive reuse of long vacant skyscrapers near people mover stations has been an important part of that experience. Brightline also ceased operations to South Florida CBDs due to COVID. With CBDs being impacted most during this pandemic with office workers working from home, I wouldn't use the temporary shut down of the Detroit people mover as proof of it being a complete failure and having no use in that city's renaissance. The reality is, Detroit is still largely an event based downtown and with the casinos limited, sporting events limited and big conventions and trade shows at Cobo Hall ceased at the moment and most of the new downtown housing being along the new streetcar line, there's no reason to run it.
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