Author Topic: The Jaxson asks JTA 12 questions about the U2C  (Read 2993 times)

thelakelander

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The Jaxson asks JTA 12 questions about the U2C
« on: April 16, 2021, 06:30:13 AM »
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Billed as a project that will take Jacksonville and downtown to the next level, the conversion of the Skyway into a one-of-a-kind autonomous transit system called the Ultimate Urban Circulator has become the talk of the town. Either people love it or they hate it. Recently, Ennis Davis of The Jaxson met with the Jacksonville Transportation Authority to learn more about the agency's plans for the project and why it desires 40% of the gas tax increase proposed by Mayor Curry to fund the project.

Read More: https://www.thejaxsonmag.com/article/the-jaxson-asks-jta-12-questions-about-the-u2c
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Ken_FSU

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Re: The Jaxson asks JTA 12 questions about the U2C
« Reply #1 on: April 16, 2021, 07:27:34 AM »
Broken record, but great stuff, and really respect the fact that you pushed him hard with the questions.

Gotta say, with the qualifier that I haven’t had coffee yet, that I was thoroughly unimpressed with his answers.

Because the U2C will go into more neighborhoods, the 10-person clown cars will have a higher capacity than the existing Skyway? I’m pretty sure that’s not how capacity works.

The JTA considers the U2C - with small cars moving at slow speeds in mixed traffic - to be the city’s long term mass transit solution? Rad!

The public had input into U2C? Really. When?

Regardless of whether or not the Innovation Corridor is a success, the JTA intends to build out the full system? Cool!

We can’t depend on federal or state money so we need to allocate $380 million to U2C, which doesn’t even include the already funded Bay corridor?

Clown cars in mixed traffic will spur 11,000 residential units and a million feet of retail space?

Maybe we’ll get to the lower income neighborhoods in 20 years after the first four phases are built out?

Hard pass.

Hate to say it, because I like Ford, but this whole things came across almost Lenny Curry-ish. Stubborn. Dismissive of other ideas. Overhyped projections. References to documents on the website.
« Last Edit: April 16, 2021, 07:31:24 AM by Ken_FSU »

jcjohnpaint

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Re: The Jaxson asks JTA 12 questions about the U2C
« Reply #2 on: April 16, 2021, 09:40:42 AM »
Thanks so much for doing this and thanks for sharing. I have to say I am pretty discouraged.

Charles Hunter

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Re: The Jaxson asks JTA 12 questions about the U2C
« Reply #3 on: April 16, 2021, 10:21:51 AM »
Excellent, and thanks for pressing to try to get answers.
I'm going to need to read that a 2nd, and maybe 3rd, time. But my initial reaction, as someone who worked in government for a long time, is there are at least as many non-answers as there are answers.

marcuscnelson

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Re: The Jaxson asks JTA 12 questions about the U2C
« Reply #4 on: April 16, 2021, 12:39:55 PM »
Sigh…

The answers to the first question pretty blatantly suggest that any minor improvement to the existing APM system, coupled with expansion, would carry a ridiculous number more people than the U2C would.

I'm a little confused by how it's supposedly FDOT mandating mixed-traffic operation?

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The U2C leverages the latest emerging technologies, the ‘No-frills’ alternative is what we are currently operating and it is less agile and capable then the proposed solution.

It's just terminal tech bro brain in there, isn't it?

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In recent years, the JTA has identified initial funding for design work and studies for rail and other mobility solutions, helped the city secure the CRISI grant to address freight congestion and movement, and received an FTA grant to look at the potential TOD development opportunities around commuter rail stations between Downtown Jacksonville and St. Augustine. The Jobs for Jax project list proposes to fund 30% design work on that initial rail segment, and further work will require additional stakeholder involvement.

Can we talk about how ridiculous it is that they apparently don't want any further stakeholder involvement for the half billion dollar AV network that no one's ever done before, but trying to build rail that we know works requires additional stakeholder involvement?

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The autonomous vehicles being considered by the JTA are all electric, and larger than typical passenger vehicles used by rideshare TNCs, therefore providing greater passenger capacity. The JTA’s fleet will have the ability to platoon, and will leverage an entire ecosystem of related technology to move customers more efficiently than the current Skyway trains can, or a single rideshare vehicle can.

I bet train advocates wish they could just propose completely hypothetical advantages when people ask why we should spend money on them. Also notable how they seem to be flat-out trying to compete with Uber. Which is especially silly when they're trying to compare one Uber driver to an entire network of 40-50 pods.

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Streetcar systems are estimated to cost $28 million per mile at minimum.… The cost of building out the entire U2C system, including converting the existing superstructure, is $379 million or $37.15 million per mile.

Except that's not true, is it? Because like they said, the Bay Street portion isn't included in that. Which really makes it more like $54 million per mile. Nearly double the cost of a streetcar.

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jaxlongtimer

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Re: The Jaxson asks JTA 12 questions about the U2C
« Reply #5 on: April 16, 2021, 11:03:00 PM »
Ennis, great interview with many important questions and few "accountable" answers.  Love the buck passing to DIA, FDOT, the City Council, the JTA board, consultants, etc.  JTA is already posturing for failure.

I just wished you could have hit them hard with questions regarding the underlying AV technology today vs. what they are promising and how JTA plans to "outdo" everyone else in applying it timely, efficiently, cost effectively, reliably, sustainably and safely.  As I have said before, if the AV technology is not perfected, nothing else matters after that.

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7. Will the project be phased? For example, if the Bay Street Innovation Project fails to live up to expectations, is there opportunity to not spend additional funds on the restructuring of the existing Skyway infrastructure?

The U2C is proposed in 4 phases – the Bay Street Innovation Corridor is first. Autonomous Avenue, which is the conversion of Skyway track from the JRTC to Jefferson Station, would be next, followed by the full conversion of the remaining track and the neighborhood extensions. We intend to build out the entire system.

This answer says it all.  JTA will plow forward to"build out the entire system" even as it may fail.  This same attitude brought us the failing Skyway and history is sure to be repeated again with this "head in the sand" approach.

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9. How much TOD (Transit Oriented Development) is this project anticipated to stimulate?

Research by the University of North Florida (UNF) estimates that the economic impact of the entire LOGT project is approximately $1.6 billion. The Tax Collectors office estimates that this could yield approximately $280,172,160 million in tax revenue for the City of Jacksonville over 10 years.

According to ongoing research being conducted by WSP, the U2C potential TOD yield is approximately 15 million in gross square footage:

· 11,000 residential units

· 1.4 million in commercial-retail square footage

· 1.5 million in office

JTA studies paid for by JTA are designed to give JTA the answers it wants, not reality.  Not one Skyway study was even 10% accurate and you can expect the same here.  These studies mostly just give cover to JTA's bad decision making process and "hell or highwater" agendas.  How much TOD did the Skyway generate over 30 years?  Nada, zero, nothing.  In fact, it had the opposite impact as no one wants to be in proximity to the hulking and failing structure.  Why and how can any study project these numbers based on history?

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The JTA’s fleet will have the ability to platoon, and will leverage an entire ecosystem of related technology to move customers more efficiently than the current Skyway trains can, or a single rideshare vehicle can. The Skyway superstructure also allows us to transport and move people above grade, without interrupting traffic in the core, and across the St. Johns River.

A hundred Uber and Lyft drivers will have more capacity than this system.  Disingenuous to compare it to just a single Uber driver.  Let's compare JTA's "entire ecosystem" to the ride-share industry's "entire ecosystem" and then tell me about efficiencies and capacity.

As to the benefits of above grade travel, that really only matters if the entire system is above grade as a chain is only as strong as its weakest link.  If an AV is tied up in traffic at grade, all bets are off on the rest of the ride.  As is reliability of the schedule and resulting headway intervals.  How will the system handle AV's piling up on each other while the rest of the route has no service?

I hope Netflix has their documentary teams on this project as it is going to make for one heck of a story about how not to spend 400+ million taxpayer dollars in a few years.


« Last Edit: April 17, 2021, 12:04:11 AM by jaxlongtimer »

thelakelander

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Re: The Jaxson asks JTA 12 questions about the U2C
« Reply #6 on: April 17, 2021, 07:36:42 AM »

I'm a little confused by how it's supposedly FDOT mandating mixed-traffic operation?

They want to operate on Main St, which is a FDOT street. They also want to operate on Bay Street, which the DIA has influence over. Both the DIA and FDOT will not approve taking lanes out of those streets for U2C only lanes.

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Can we talk about how ridiculous it is that they apparently don't want any further stakeholder involvement for the half billion dollar AV network that no one's ever done before, but trying to build rail that we know works requires additional stakeholder involvement?

Funny thing is that anything done will require additional stakeholder involvement (including the U2C) since they don't own streets or railroad tracks they'd like to use or cross to expand at-grade.
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thelakelander

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Re: The Jaxson asks JTA 12 questions about the U2C
« Reply #7 on: April 18, 2021, 12:56:16 PM »
Ennis, great interview with many important questions and few "accountable" answers.  Love the buck passing to DIA, FDOT, the City Council, the JTA board, consultants, etc.  JTA is already posturing for failure.

I just wished you could have hit them hard with questions regarding the underlying AV technology today vs. what they are promising and how JTA plans to "outdo" everyone else in applying it timely, efficiently, cost effectively, reliably, sustainably and safely.  As I have said before, if the AV technology is not perfected, nothing else matters after that.

I didn't have to ask these types of questions. The coolness of AV technology and the years they've spent studying and playing around with it is all they really wanted to talk about. They take pride in that they are the only public transportation agency rushing to pull something like the U2C off. So depending on how you view this, either it can be exciting that others are watching you or you can view it as watching a pending train wreck happen in action.


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7. Will the project be phased? For example, if the Bay Street Innovation Project fails to live up to expectations, is there opportunity to not spend additional funds on the restructuring of the existing Skyway infrastructure?

The U2C is proposed in 4 phases – the Bay Street Innovation Corridor is first. Autonomous Avenue, which is the conversion of Skyway track from the JRTC to Jefferson Station, would be next, followed by the full conversion of the remaining track and the neighborhood extensions. We intend to build out the entire system.

This answer says it all.  JTA will plow forward to"build out the entire system" even as it may fail.  This same attitude brought us the failing Skyway and history is sure to be repeated again with this "head in the sand" approach.

In regards to the U2C, they are sold on pushing forward. There isn't really an alternative out there where there has been some serious consideration. They've been on the AV path, hell or high water, since 2015.



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9. How much TOD (Transit Oriented Development) is this project anticipated to stimulate?

Research by the University of North Florida (UNF) estimates that the economic impact of the entire LOGT project is approximately $1.6 billion. The Tax Collectors office estimates that this could yield approximately $280,172,160 million in tax revenue for the City of Jacksonville over 10 years.

According to ongoing research being conducted by WSP, the U2C potential TOD yield is approximately 15 million in gross square footage:

· 11,000 residential units

· 1.4 million in commercial-retail square footage

· 1.5 million in office

JTA studies paid for by JTA are designed to give JTA the answers it wants, not reality.  Not one Skyway study was even 10% accurate and you can expect the same here.  These studies mostly just give cover to JTA's bad decision making process and "hell or highwater" agendas.  How much TOD did the Skyway generate over 30 years?  Nada, zero, nothing.  In fact, it had the opposite impact as no one wants to be in proximity to the hulking and failing structure.  Why and how can any study project these numbers based on history?

There are enough positives out there with AVs to have an open and honest discussion and debate about how to integrate them into our community and transportation network. However, yes, those economic numbers are ridiculous. I hope they tone those down a bit. If not, it's a repeat of the crazy ridership estimates used to justify the Skyway years ago.


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The JTA’s fleet will have the ability to platoon, and will leverage an entire ecosystem of related technology to move customers more efficiently than the current Skyway trains can, or a single rideshare vehicle can. The Skyway superstructure also allows us to transport and move people above grade, without interrupting traffic in the core, and across the St. Johns River.

A hundred Uber and Lyft drivers will have more capacity than this system.  Disingenuous to compare it to just a single Uber driver.  Let's compare JTA's "entire ecosystem" to the ride-share industry's "entire ecosystem" and then tell me about efficiencies and capacity.

As to the benefits of above grade travel, that really only matters if the entire system is above grade as a chain is only as strong as its weakest link.  If an AV is tied up in traffic at grade, all bets are off on the rest of the ride.  As is reliability of the schedule and resulting headway intervals.  How will the system handle AV's piling up on each other while the rest of the route has no service?

I hope Netflix has their documentary teams on this project as it is going to make for one heck of a story about how not to spend 400+ million taxpayer dollars in a few years.

Unlike a bus, streetcar, LRT, APM, etc., we don't know if JTA's fleet will have the ability to platoon. That's an aspirational dream at this point that only the future will tell. Those are the types of statements you have to take with a grain of salt when it comes to determining if it is in the local taxpayer's best interest to spend 1/2 billion on this project.

As a taxpayer, I'd rather see them move forward with the already funded $44 million Bay Street Innovation Corridor project. Get it up and running and let's see if it can do any of the things being promised. It will give the community a lot of answers and direction without spending one red cent of gas tax money on the project.
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vicupstate

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Re: The Jaxson asks JTA 12 questions about the U2C
« Reply #8 on: April 18, 2021, 01:59:42 PM »
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As a taxpayer, I'd rather see them move forward with the already funded $44 million Bay Street Innovation Corridor project. Get it up and running and let's see if it can do any of the things being promised. It will give the community a lot of answers and direction without spending one red cent of gas tax money on the project.

Yeah, it would make perfect sense to at least complete that and let it be a pilot project and proof of concept before committing another $400 million to this idea. They could even set aside the gas tax for that purpose but with the option to divert it elsewhere if the pilot shows problems.
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jaxlongtimer

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Re: The Jaxson asks JTA 12 questions about the U2C
« Reply #9 on: April 18, 2021, 09:17:34 PM »
In covering the accident this week of two dead in a Tesla car accident, CNBC reported the below in which Tesla confirms they do not yet have autonomous vehicles.  I am sure Elon Musk and Tesla will be impressed that JTA thinks they do and are prepared to pack up to 15 persons (or more in their fabled "platoons") in their vehicles, not just two.  Who volunteers to be a JTA guinea pig?

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Tesla Autopilot and FSD are not capable of controlling the electric vehicles in all normal driving circumstances.

In a letter to the California DMV late last year, according to records obtained by CNBC and others, Tesla lawyers said that “neither Autopilot nor FSD Capability is an autonomous system.” And in their owners’ manuals, Tesla cautions drivers: “The currently enabled features require active driver supervision and do not make the vehicle autonomous.”

https://www.cnbc.com/2021/04/18/no-one-was-driving-in-tesla-crash-that-killed-two-men-in-spring-texas-report.html
« Last Edit: April 18, 2021, 09:23:05 PM by jaxlongtimer »

thelakelander

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Re: The Jaxson asks JTA 12 questions about the U2C
« Reply #10 on: April 19, 2021, 07:13:08 AM »
This happened last year in Columbus. Here is a video of the incident:

https://youtu.be/P7neBYD6Fxo

These vehicles now have seatbelts that all passengers are required to use. This AV pilot is now used for grocery deliveries instead of transit.

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Woman tossed from seat on self-driving Linden Leap shuttle hopes they will not run again

COLUMBUS, Ohio (WSYX/WTTE) — It's been two weeks since Tajuana Lawson was thrown from her seat on the Linden Leap driver-less shuttle. The shuttles are still shut down as Smart Columbus said they are trying to figure out why the car came to an abrupt stop.

"We go about a half a block down the street, and I was thrown," Lawson said. "If anything drives itself, I'm not getting on it ever again."

Lawson said she hopes the shuttles don't start back up at all, after what happened to her.

"I don't know how you can use the public as guinea pigs like that. I'm just upset that I was a part of an experiment."

Bus drivers and union members with Transit Workers Union Local 208 have been against this from day one, saying why take jobs away from drivers?

"Technology is okay," bus operator Darryl Neal said. "But when it jeopardizes human lives, that's when people need to stand up and fight back against this type of technology."

The National Highway Transportation Safety Administration has suspended 16 autonomous vehicles in ten states after this incident.

Full article: https://abc6onyourside.com/news/local/woman-tossed-from-seat-on-self-driving-linden-leap-shuttle-hopes-it-will-not-run-again
« Last Edit: April 19, 2021, 07:44:45 AM by thelakelander »
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thelakelander

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Re: The Jaxson asks JTA 12 questions about the U2C
« Reply #11 on: April 19, 2021, 08:58:21 AM »
We'll be on Melissa Ross today to talk a bit about this.
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thelakelander

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Re: The Jaxson asks JTA 12 questions about the U2C
« Reply #12 on: April 19, 2021, 10:58:20 AM »
It appears something that will allow AVs to work in harsh weather conditions could be out next year:

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A Finnish tech company is one step closer to bringing us autonomous cars
The problem is the reality of harsh weather conditions, as that is when people rely on their cars the most.

Sensible 4 Ltd., a Finnish tech company that specializes in software development for self-driving cars, will release Dawn in 2022, the first software in the field to withstand extreme weather, the company announced on Tuesday.

The problem is the reality of harsh weather conditions, as that is when people rely on their cars the most. “Why would we develop a system that only works in optimal conditions, in warm, clear, and sunny weather, as that's not the reality for most of the people?” said Harri Santamala, Sensible 4's CEO.

"This first release will have remote assistance, and it works both day and night in all weather conditions, like rain, snow, sun and fog," Santamala said in November.

Dawn will be available for application on any four-wheel vehicle, but Sensible 4 is gearing toward shuttle buses, as it is more "easily integrated" into the system.

“Our basic concept is that the vehicle must work in everyday conditions," Santamala said. "We believe this is the way autonomous driving becomes mainstream."

How do self-driving cars work?

Sensors. Usually, cameras. “Cameras are good in detecting and classifying objects in the vicinity of the vehicle, but they see poorly in the dark or through rain and fog, and they also have difficulty in accurately assessing distances to objects," said Santamala.

Full article: https://www.jpost.com/jpost-tech/a-finnish-tech-company-is-one-step-closer-to-bringing-us-autonomous-cars-656497
« Last Edit: April 19, 2021, 11:00:06 AM by thelakelander »
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Charles Hunter

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Re: The Jaxson asks JTA 12 questions about the U2C
« Reply #13 on: April 19, 2021, 02:44:08 PM »
That would be good.  My Subaru has what they call the Eyesight system - helps with lane-keeping, following distance, and other AV-1 tasks.  Driving in a heavy thunderstorm, it shut off, it couldn't see any better than I could.

Which brings up the question - what is JTA's plan, absent this new Finnish tech?  Were they going to shut down service in the rain?  Bay Street is pretty much east-west, which means at certain times of the year, at certain times of day, you (and the U2Cs) will be driving directly into the rising or setting sun. Current generation AV cameras have problems with those conditions, too.

thelakelander

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Re: The Jaxson asks JTA 12 questions about the U2C
« Reply #14 on: April 19, 2021, 04:05:55 PM »
They are confident that they will figure out solutions to all of these issues, in terms of what they want for their own system.
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