Author Topic: Time for more real talk on JTA's Skyway plans  (Read 7919 times)

thelakelander

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acme54321

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Re: Time for more real talk on JTA's Skyway plans
« Reply #1 on: May 06, 2021, 07:16:39 PM »
Didn't read the article, but I see that pic and a new river crossing for autonomous cars is never going to happen.

marcuscnelson

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Re: Time for more real talk on JTA's Skyway plans
« Reply #2 on: May 06, 2021, 11:26:03 PM »
Needed article. Some friends out of state were wondering when an article like this would come about.

Interesting exchange between David Cawton and I tonight.

Transportation Secretary Buttigeig said he’d look into the Bay Street BUILD Grant, and Cawton came by to say:

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For those wondering, the $12.5 BUILD grant was executed last year. Sec. Pete wasn't in his role when that happened. We have not sought additional federal funding for the U2C program.

I replied to ask why not, and he said:

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Because the feds don't typically invest in projects without some level of commitment from local gov. We've consistently said that we will seek federal and state grants once this legislative process concludes.

So I said:

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So does $379m actually pay for the whole system or is it just a local share prior to federal funding?

If the latter, what happens if JTA does receive federal & state funding? Where does the local commitment money go?

And he said this, which has since been deleted:

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$379M is for the entire system (outside of Bay St). If fed support is won after, it can offset local money.  Any offset local funds can then be  redirected to other LOGT-eligible projects, (as approved by council and the JTA board).

I don’t know about you all, but I’ve never heard of fully funding a transit project before asking for federal dollars.
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jaxlongtimer

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Re: Time for more real talk on JTA's Skyway plans
« Reply #3 on: May 07, 2021, 12:28:05 AM »
Ennis and Marcus, keep up the good fight.  You are right-on with all the points you make and I can't imagine anyone being able to ignore them.

To summarize the article's points here for convenience:

5. A bad name.
4. Capacity (and speed) and ridership are too low.
3. Doesn't have dedicated right of way.
2, Misses key neighborhoods.
1. Numbers (i.e. costs) don't add up.

I would add at least two more points, the first at # 0 (i.e. in front of #1): Full blown autonomous technology isn't close to proven or perfected and JTA isn't the one to get that done.  If they do manage to get it to Level 4, at best, the AV's will require a dedicated "driver," either on board or remotely.  As such, there won't be much that is "autonomous" about them.  The public is being sold a bill of goods to call this an "autonomous" system.

The second point has to do with user acceptance and ridership counts.  Where is the inherent "demand" in numbers for using the system if it is built?  Are there any studies (even by biased JTA consultants)?  How about making them public?  What fares will the studies be based on?  Will any potential riders "trust" JTA's AV tech or avoid the system altogether for that reason?

Any one of these strikes should kill the project but these 7 together surely make it a no-brainer to abandon it.


jaxoNOLE

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Re: Time for more real talk on JTA's Skyway plans
« Reply #4 on: May 07, 2021, 01:22:42 AM »
The most egregious flaw in my mind is there are zero designs. Not only do the numbers not add up, they're made up. Not a single foot of that system has an engineering design completed, but the taxpayers are being asked to commit to funding the entire system up front.

We're being asked to cut JTA a $379 million check based on, "Trust us, we believe the ONE respondent to our Bay Street RFP can figure out the minor things...like how to transition from an elevated structure down to at-grade mixed traffic."

jaxoNOLE

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Re: Time for more real talk on JTA's Skyway plans
« Reply #5 on: May 07, 2021, 01:37:50 AM »

I don’t know about you all, but I’ve never heard of fully funding a transit project before asking for federal dollars.

Realistically, any federal dollars will go to offset the inevitable cost overruns inherent in funding a system with no designs completed and a decade- plus construction timeline. JTA has all but admitted the project will face rising costs. No way it comes in at $379M + Bay street. One huge concern is, what projects on the list that are worthwhile get cannibalized if U2C needs more money? Does the general fund have to make up the shortfall, completely defeating the point of freeing up capital there for septic tanks? You get $100M deep into this thing, nobody will be willing to walk away (Skyway, case in point).

marcuscnelson

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Re: Time for more real talk on JTA's Skyway plans
« Reply #6 on: May 07, 2021, 03:02:05 AM »
The most egregious flaw in my mind is there are zero designs. Not only do the numbers not add up, they're made up. Not a single foot of that system has an engineering design completed, but the taxpayers are being asked to commit to funding the entire system up front.

We're being asked to cut JTA a $379 million check based on, "Trust us, we believe the ONE respondent to our Bay Street RFP can figure out the minor things...like how to transition from an elevated structure down to at-grade mixed traffic."

That's not 100% true… only about 90%.

They do have an approximate route, and a planned parking location for the AVs, and at least some planned stop locations. But JTA hasn't received the hardware to control the vehicles remotely, they don't have an integrated platform for vehicle management (at their current facility they're using 3 or 4 different sites right now), they're still trying to figure out what hardware goes in signal boxes to connect to and control the vehicles, and it's very unclear how capable these vehicles are of handling cars speeding around and cutting off without the operator taking back control. And then they're just outright claiming that running these vehicles at 12mph is fine because the average speed of buses on Bay Street is reportedly around that. They don't actually know exactly which vehicle is going to be used (apparently it's "under active procurement") and even if they pick one there's no clear answer to when the vehicle would be created or available for testing or ready for service. Odds are Navya isn't going to custom-design an autonomous vehicle for Jacksonville, and even if Local Motors can print one it's anyone's guess when they'd get around to building over a dozen of them.

They talk about creating jobs for the future but it's not like any of the AV companies are moving here or establishing factories here.

I would add at least two more points, the first at # 0 (i.e. in front of #1): Full blown autonomous technology isn't close to proven or perfected and JTA isn't the one to get that done.  If they do manage to get it to Level 4, at best, the AV's will require a dedicated "driver," either on board or remotely.  As such, there won't be much that is "autonomous" about them.  The public is being sold a bill of goods to call this an "autonomous" system.

Tell that to the U2C team. I tried, but they seemed to take that as me calling them, personally, unintelligent. When no, it's just that this is very hard and no one has figured it out yet, even companies like Google and Amazon spending billions in the field. And their plan to start is to have backup operators and transition to remote oversight from whatever control facility they end up using. Which I'd argue somewhat defeats the purpose of spending all this money on a trick AV network in the first place, but what do I know.

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The second point has to do with user acceptance and ridership counts.  Where is the inherent "demand" in numbers for using the system if it is built?  Are there any studies (even by biased JTA consultants)?  How about making them public?  What fares will the studies be based on?  Will any potential riders "trust" JTA's AV tech or avoid the system altogether for that reason?

They seem to believe that young people in particular would be very interested in riding it. I pointed out that as a young person we need more than just AVs to want to live in cities, but, well…

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Any one of these strikes should kill the project but these 7 together surely make it a no-brainer to abandon it.

The challenge is essentially that Nat Ford & Bernard Schmidt keep telling the board and the city that everything is fine, and they're eying the five years of sunken-cost gone into this project, as well as the institutional momentum that has parts of the agency zealously committed to seeing it through. I seriously doubt there's been a moment since 2016 where they've seriously stopped and said "is this really the right course of action? Should we reexamine the possibility of streetcars or any alternative systems?" And it's unclear how exactly to get them to do that.
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: Time for more real talk on JTA's Skyway plans
« Reply #7 on: May 07, 2021, 07:33:26 AM »
I don’t know about you all, but I’ve never heard of fully funding a transit project before asking for federal dollars.

No you don't need to fully fund a project locally to get federal dollars. That's probably why that comment was deleted.
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thelakelander

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Re: Time for more real talk on JTA's Skyway plans
« Reply #8 on: May 07, 2021, 07:51:04 AM »
The most egregious flaw in my mind is there are zero designs. Not only do the numbers not add up, they're made up. Not a single foot of that system has an engineering design completed, but the taxpayers are being asked to commit to funding the entire system up front.

We're being asked to cut JTA a $379 million check based on, "Trust us, we believe the ONE respondent to our Bay Street RFP can figure out the minor things...like how to transition from an elevated structure down to at-grade mixed traffic."

That's not 100% true… only about 90%.

They do have an approximate route, and a planned parking location for the AVs, and at least some planned stop locations.

No, they don't have a design. What has been produced so far is a dream that still needs buy in from the DIA, FDOT and other stakeholders. They have no idea of how they'll get to grade or how they'll get to Lot J once that at-grade expressway is completed. They have no idea of what the demand will be and the capacity of the system isn't what the city will need. Instead, it's whatever those vehicles will be capable of. It's got a ton of questions and should have been answered by now, if there were a design. This thing will easily cost +$500 million and will likely fail moreso than Jax being the first to succeed at pulling it off.
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Lunican

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Re: Time for more real talk on JTA's Skyway plans
« Reply #9 on: May 07, 2021, 11:22:17 AM »
Tell that to the U2C team. I tried, but they seemed to take that as me calling them, personally, unintelligent. When no, it's just that this is very hard and no one has figured it out yet, even companies like Google and Amazon spending billions in the field. And their plan to start is to have backup operators and transition to remote oversight from whatever control facility they end up using. Which I'd argue somewhat defeats the purpose of spending all this money on a trick AV network in the first place, but what do I know.

So has JTA actually hired programmers, computer vision and AV experts? I still don't understand JTA's role in developing this technology.

thelakelander

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Re: Time for more real talk on JTA's Skyway plans
« Reply #10 on: May 07, 2021, 12:35:15 PM »
^They want to be the first public transportation entity in the US to operate AV technology as an urban mass transit solution as opposed to the pilots already taking place all across the country. As questionable as that is, when it comes to the LOGT, they don't need a dime of the LOGT money to accomplish this dream. The $44 million Bay Street Innovation Corridor is already funded. Jax should let them implement it at-grade between the Skyway's Central Station and TIAA Bank Field. We'll learn real quick if it is worth additional tax money screwing with the Skyway, without actually touching or spending an additional dime on the Skyway.
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jaxjags

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Re: Time for more real talk on JTA's Skyway plans
« Reply #11 on: May 07, 2021, 05:04:37 PM »
The most egregious flaw in my mind is there are zero designs. Not only do the numbers not add up, they're made up. Not a single foot of that system has an engineering design completed, but the taxpayers are being asked to commit to funding the entire system up front.

We're being asked to cut JTA a $379 million check based on, "Trust us, we believe the ONE respondent to our Bay Street RFP can figure out the minor things...like how to transition from an elevated structure down to at-grade mixed traffic."

That's not 100% true… only about 90%.

They do have an approximate route, and a planned parking location for the AVs, and at least some planned stop locations.

No, they don't have a design. What has been produced so far is a dream that still needs buy in from the DIA, FDOT and other stakeholders. They have no idea of how they'll get to grade or how they'll get to Lot J once that at-grade expressway is completed. They have no idea of what the demand will be and the capacity of the system isn't what the city will need. Instead, it's whatever those vehicles will be capable of. It's got a ton of questions and should have been answered by now, if there were a design. This thing will easily cost +$500 million and will likely fail moreso than Jax being the first to succeed at pulling it off.

I would say they have a conceptual design only. My experience in large capital industrial projects is you don’t know total project costs until about 90 % of the design ENGINEERING is done.

I believe this is typical Jacksonville. All of nothing. No discussion or debate. Thus the only way to “stop it” is to vote no on LOGT. Similar to Lot J. Really disappointed.

jcjohnpaint

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Re: Time for more real talk on JTA's Skyway plans
« Reply #12 on: May 07, 2021, 05:58:04 PM »
Sounds like someone is going for a Hail Mary resume line, so they can leave us with this garbage project for a pie in the sky job in some other city.

jaxlongtimer

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Re: Time for more real talk on JTA's Skyway plans
« Reply #13 on: May 07, 2021, 05:58:42 PM »
^^Add that even if they had priced it just a year ago, the prices of lumber, metals, chips, labor, logistics (and I assume much would be imported) etc. that would go into building it are sky-high now, as much as 4 to 10 times higher, depending on the item.  I am being told suppliers are sometimes only holding price quotes for as little as one week.

I bet that even if the $379 million was a solid quote (doubtful for reasons cited in this thread) at one time it is now at least 30 to 50% higher today.  And, it may continue to go higher.

I might add if they need to acquire any more land to build it out, that's another input inflating quickly.
« Last Edit: May 07, 2021, 06:02:58 PM by jaxlongtimer »

thelakelander

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Re: Time for more real talk on JTA's Skyway plans
« Reply #14 on: May 07, 2021, 06:21:47 PM »
I'm not confident enough to say it is a conceptual design. They don't have DIA approval to do what has been proposed. They'll need to go before DDRB like every project in downtown. They can't just draw lines on Bay Street and assume that concept with limited public buy-in will fly.
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