Author Topic: Is U2C serious? Help me make it make sense....  (Read 6593 times)

BossmanOdum10

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Is U2C serious? Help me make it make sense....
« on: May 13, 2021, 11:19:31 AM »
*Long Rant Alert*
Am I the only person who feels like this U2C Project is a waste? IMO I feel that this BILLION DOLLAR Project makes ZERO cents to help our city. I truly don't understand why the city leaders are so amazed with this project. Use that BILLION DOLLARS to improve what we have and create better and smarter projects. We are a city of nearly 1 million people (Jacksonville Proper)...4 seater automated mini vans driving around the downtown area isn't helping at all. Sorry, but the leadership here has to do better.

marcuscnelson

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Re: Is U2C serious? Help me make it make sense....
« Reply #1 on: May 13, 2021, 11:45:03 AM »
Hi!

You're not alone at all, there have been people here concerned about this project for years now. Although, let's be clear about what it is. The U2C as proposed doesn't cost a billion dollars. The proposed gas tax increase includes many other infrastructure & transportation improvement projects across Duval County. The U2C (until yesterday) made up about $379 million out of $930 million. That number was just decreased by about $132 million in order to fund the Emerald Trail project.

In terms of why city leaders are amazed, frankly, it's not clear most of them are. Not a whole lot of people on Council are at least publicly singing its praises. The ones who are have been fed a lot of misdirection by people who are very confident that their project is going to work, but don't really know how to make it work. Not that they aren't smart people, autonomous vehicles are just incredibly hard and expensive. They've been chasing this dream of being a "national leader" and building the "future of transportation" to the point of really going beyond the duty of building functional public transportation.
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

jaxlongtimer

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Re: Is U2C serious? Help me make it make sense....
« Reply #2 on: May 13, 2021, 11:50:34 AM »
To the moderator:  There are any number of threads started on this project.  Is there an opportunity to consolidate some of them?

Thanks!
« Last Edit: May 13, 2021, 11:58:52 AM by jaxlongtimer »

WmNussbaum

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Re: Is U2C serious? Help me make it make sense....
« Reply #3 on: May 17, 2021, 11:58:03 AM »
The recent article in the Mag about the U2C presented a good analysis of the plan - it it can really be called one. As a matter of interest, how much would it cost to tear down the Skyway and pay the government what it would claim the city owes for abandoning such a worthwhile -  Ri-i-i-ight - venture?

thelakelander

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Re: Is U2C serious? Help me make it make sense....
« Reply #4 on: May 17, 2021, 12:15:07 PM »
Less than a quarter of the cost that JTA would like to spend on the U2C.
"A man who views the world the same at 50 as he did at 20 has wasted 30 years of his life.” - Muhammad Ali

marcuscnelson

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Re: Is U2C serious? Help me make it make sense....
« Reply #5 on: May 17, 2021, 06:03:25 PM »
Less than a quarter of the cost that JTA would like to spend on the U2C.

Perhaps? JTA keeps fearmongering that the FTA will actually demand full repayment for the elevated structure if it's torn down, and I imagine that if they did it with me bringing that up, they'd certainly do it with Council. On top of that they keep referring - even on their FAQ page - to a vaguely threatening "chilling effect on future federal funding opportunities."
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: Is U2C serious? Help me make it make sense....
« Reply #6 on: May 17, 2021, 06:26:04 PM »
The full project cost was $184 million. Not all of it was paid for by the FTA. So it's still peanuts in comparison to spending 1/2 billion on the U2C. With that said, we could do nothing with the Skyway and still not have to pay the FTA a dime back. So an alternative option is to take LOGT money and build a new transit project 100% independent of the Skyway, other than having a single station connect into the JRTC. As long as the new project doesn't duplicate the existing path of the Skyway, we'd have a fixed transit system that includes 2.5 miles of elevated Skyway connecting various areas of DT.

This option would be exactly what the Metrorail in Miami and QLine Streetcar in Detroit do for the Skyway siblings, the Metromover and Detroit Peoplemover......feed these downtown peoplemovers with riders coming from areas outside of downtown.
"A man who views the world the same at 50 as he did at 20 has wasted 30 years of his life.” - Muhammad Ali

WmNussbaum

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Re: Is U2C serious? Help me make it make sense....
« Reply #7 on: May 17, 2021, 06:28:15 PM »
And what is so great about autonomous vehicles? Elimination of jobs for the segment of workers who could drive a bus?

marcuscnelson

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Re: Is U2C serious? Help me make it make sense....
« Reply #8 on: May 17, 2021, 07:00:48 PM »
And what is so great about autonomous vehicles? Elimination of jobs for the segment of workers who could drive a bus?

Well, Nat Ford did say we'd be turning bus drivers into drone operators, so there's that…

Jokes aside, here are some of the pros discussed in 2017 when AVs became the "preferred technology":

Quote
This vehicle technology option is expected to have a shorter service life so it does not require a long term commitment to the technology. Once past the initial infrastructure conversion, there would be a high level of flexibility to change vehicles at a later time. This option offers the highest level of flexibility and cost effectiveness of extensions. Autonomous vehicle technology is rapidly developing and there is significant private sector investment in it. By using a larger fleet of smaller vehicles that can be operated individually or in a train set, this option offers the highest level of operational flexibility. It also provides the option of operating at street level. While current application is limited, autonomous vehicle technology is expected to advance in a timeframe that would allow the U2C to have the most current, instead of obsolete, technology.

Autonomous Vehicle (AV) technology without a guidebeam or rail is the preferred technology option that enables the JTA to achieve the desired system attributes of the U2C. The operational flexibility provides high capacity and high frequency service. Extensions are more cost effective and can be at the street level or elevated. This flexibility is critical for the system to reach existing, emerging and planned residential, employment and retail centers. As the technology develops, the system would have the capacity to operate on-demand and even potentially offer point-to-point service where the infrastructure permits.

You might quickly notice that basically all of those benefits rely on promises of hypothetical capability. Hypothetical capability that in four years of expensive private sector R&D haven't really emerged yet.

The full project cost was $184 million. Not all of it was paid for by the FTA. So it's still peanuts in comparison to spending 1/2 billion on the U2C. With that said, we could do nothing with the Skyway and still not have to pay the FTA a dime back. So an alternative option is to take LOGT money and build a new transit project 100% independent of the Skyway, other than having a single station connect into the JRTC. As long as the new project doesn't duplicate the existing path of the Skyway, we'd have a fixed transit system that includes 2.5 miles of elevated Skyway connecting various areas of DT.

This option would be exactly what the Metrorail in Miami and QLine Streetcar in Detroit do for the Skyway siblings, the Metromover and Detroit Peoplemover......feed these downtown peoplemovers with riders coming from areas outside of downtown.

I suppose the problem that remains is that the current system does still need to have something done with it. Seeing as there is ~$250 million left (assuming it isn't better used elsewhere), I'd spend ~$20-30 million overhauling the existing system to last until the FTA term runs out and then the $200 million on a local 25% share of proven technology for something like the QLine that actually goes places like EWC and other destinations where people are likely to find it a useful alternative, vs just being for downtowners. That or direct it to getting commuter rail and the terminal off the ground vs just "further in planning". Or split some of it off and use it for increasing bus frequencies, that's also possible.

I think there's some theoretical promise in a Lake Nona-style AV network elsewhere in town, so the automation team could keep working on that with the remaining money until the technology is actually ready. If everyone there didn't already have golf carts, something like the U2C could probably be useful in Nocatee.
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: Is U2C serious? Help me make it make sense....
« Reply #9 on: May 17, 2021, 09:12:53 PM »
The full project cost was $184 million. Not all of it was paid for by the FTA. So it's still peanuts in comparison to spending 1/2 billion on the U2C. With that said, we could do nothing with the Skyway and still not have to pay the FTA a dime back. So an alternative option is to take LOGT money and build a new transit project 100% independent of the Skyway, other than having a single station connect into the JRTC. As long as the new project doesn't duplicate the existing path of the Skyway, we'd have a fixed transit system that includes 2.5 miles of elevated Skyway connecting various areas of DT.

This option would be exactly what the Metrorail in Miami and QLine Streetcar in Detroit do for the Skyway siblings, the Metromover and Detroit Peoplemover......feed these downtown peoplemovers with riders coming from areas outside of downtown.

I suppose the problem that remains is that the current system does still need to have something done with it. Seeing as there is ~$250 million left (assuming it isn't better used elsewhere), I'd spend ~$20-30 million overhauling the existing system to last until the FTA term runs out

Definitely got to maintain what's there. However, I don't view it as a cost that has to be included in the LOGT. For example, the $15 to $20 million annually that it will cost to operate the U2C isn't included in the LOGT numbers.
"A man who views the world the same at 50 as he did at 20 has wasted 30 years of his life.” - Muhammad Ali

marcuscnelson

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Re: Is U2C serious? Help me make it make sense....
« Reply #10 on: May 17, 2021, 09:47:50 PM »
According to this, current annual O&M for the Skyway was $6.3 million a few years ago. My understanding of the reason for this whole adventure in the first place was that the vehicles were beyond the midpoint of their lifetime and needed to be either overhauled or replaced, and that four vehicles were out of service for mechanical failures. Fixing that, plus some refreshes for the infrastructure and operating system are costs I'm personally okay with us putting some capital into, just enough to get us to the end of the federal obligation. Then the remaining funding can go to alternatives.

Now that I'm thinking about it, it seems pretty odd that they didn't look at their plan and consider that maybe it'd go over easier if they just asked for the $130 million to do the extensions, with a simpler vehicle replacement or overhaul scheme for the existing structure. If they could have squeezed the whole Skyway ask into $150-170 million and done other, more popular stuff with the remainder, they probably would have gotten away with it. I know they apparently felt that requiring passengers to transfer was "suboptimal," but coming out and saying "we'd like to spend $423 million on the Skyway, which would be close to half of the entire gas tax proposal" was ballsy, and probably not a great idea in hindsight.

Then again, they apparently thought waxing poetic about this project turning us into a "global leader in digital innovation" was going to be a winning strategy.
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

Charles Hunter

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Re: Is U2C serious? Help me make it make sense....
« Reply #11 on: May 17, 2021, 09:51:50 PM »
I still want to see documentation from FTA about the alleged "payback".

thelakelander

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Re: Is U2C serious? Help me make it make sense....
« Reply #12 on: May 17, 2021, 10:42:05 PM »
According to this, current annual O&M for the Skyway was $6.3 million a few years ago. My understanding of the reason for this whole adventure in the first place was that the vehicles were beyond the midpoint of their lifetime and needed to be either overhauled or replaced, and that four vehicles were out of service for mechanical failures. Fixing that, plus some refreshes for the infrastructure and operating system are costs I'm personally okay with us putting some capital into, just enough to get us to the end of the federal obligation. Then the remaining funding can go to alternatives.

Now that I'm thinking about it, it seems pretty odd that they didn't look at their plan and consider that maybe it'd go over easier if they just asked for the $130 million to do the extensions, with a simpler vehicle replacement or overhaul scheme for the existing structure. If they could have squeezed the whole Skyway ask into $150-170 million and done other, more popular stuff with the remainder, they probably would have gotten away with it. I know they apparently felt that requiring passengers to transfer was "suboptimal," but coming out and saying "we'd like to spend $423 million on the Skyway, which would be close to half of the entire gas tax proposal" was ballsy, and probably not a great idea in hindsight.

Then again, they apparently thought waxing poetic about this project turning us into a "global leader in digital innovation" was going to be a winning strategy.

Somewhere down the line it went from properly addressing the challenges involving the Skyway into a desired legacy solution. Now all the fiscal reasons for starting things years ago don't matter as much as forcing that desired solution into reality, regardless of costs.
"A man who views the world the same at 50 as he did at 20 has wasted 30 years of his life.” - Muhammad Ali

bl8jaxnative

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Re: Is U2C serious? Help me make it make sense....
« Reply #13 on: May 18, 2021, 09:42:18 AM »

No one should take serious a proposal is based on clown cars being drive themselves about rich people's neighborhoods ( + downtown ).

WmNussbaum

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Re: Is U2C serious? Help me make it make sense....
« Reply #14 on: May 18, 2021, 01:24:10 PM »
Jacksonville - or as I like to call it, Jackassville - is such an odd place. I see that according to a UNF poll, most of us don't want to raise the gas tax. It is a regressive tax to be sure, but how are we ever going to solve local problems without local funding? The city could be called Los Angeles East because we are married to the automobile and considering that getting around this huge metropolitan area is more than acceptable, that is not so bad.

So, spend money on bigger and better maintained roadways as L.A. has. Have a fleet of busses of different sizes to fit the amount of anticipated usage and with a circle of sub-stations around and in the areas of need. Improve and increase transfer points. Convert the Skyway to a bicycle - pedestrian pathway with a few more access points. (Speaking of bicycles, let me piss off the bikers - and I once was one: Spending money on bike paths in the hope it will generate bicycle ridership as a way to get around town should be very limited. We aren't an Amsterdam or any other city where a lot of the population gets around that way and building bicycle paths is not going to change that.)

Reconstruct the Hart Bridge ramps. If you re-build it they will come.