Author Topic: Time to cut bait on JTA's driverless Skyway replacement  (Read 27880 times)

Captain Zissou

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Re: Time to cut bait on JTA's driverless Skyway replacement
« Reply #135 on: December 01, 2023, 10:51:46 AM »
I've been saying this for years, but I finally put some math to it. 
  • A basic Tesla 3 costs $38,000.  If you purchased 50 of them you'd probably get a discount, but we'll just stick with the base price.  Total cost, $1.9M
  • For now you can hire 100 drivers to assist with operation of the cars throughout the week.  As automation improves, drivers are gone. Total Cost, $4.5M
  • Hire 8 managers at a cost of $110k. Generous, but JTA loves those high salaried employees. Total cost, $880k
  • Hire 8 back office support staff with salaries averaging $75k. Total cost, $600k
  • Hire a team of 4 mechanics with $60k salaries. Teslas don't even really need mechanics, but just in case. Total cost, $240k
  • Hire a VP of the automation division and pay them a cush salary of $200k because why not?
  • Hire 2 software coders to help with updates to the cars.  Pay them each $90k.  I don't think they'd be needed, but just in case. Total cost, $180k
  • Finally, build a $5M facility for parking cars while not in use, repairs, back office facilities, and driver break rooms, training rooms, etc.

This can all be implemented for $5M in start up costs and annual labor costs of $6.4M.  You could move over 1,000 people an hour (this is almost as much as all of JTA moves throughout the day based on the News4Jax piece.  Apparently ridership is 20k a day). Add in 10 of the forthcoming tesla delivery vans for hauling people with large packages... add bike racks to all cars... cross train drivers to handle the vans.... $3M for a washing facility... Quadruple the budget and it still makes so much more sense than U2C.

Edit: This could be scaled up to replace JTA entirely, but for now it's just U2C.  Factor in tax breaks for an all electric fleet and baby, we've got a stew going.
« Last Edit: December 01, 2023, 10:55:26 AM by Captain Zissou »

Charles Hunter

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Re: Time to cut bait on JTA's driverless Skyway replacement
« Reply #136 on: December 01, 2023, 11:48:19 AM »
Interesting, Captain.  I think you are underpaying your drivers. Pretty sure they make more than $21/hour.

Action News broadcast their next installment of their look at JTA yesterday

Quote
We talked to industry expert, Dr. Ruth Steiner about that bus service and its annual report to the Florida Transportation Commission, or FTC. She is a professor and director at the Center for Health and The Built Environment at University of Florida and said JTA’s own numbers show it’s falling short.

Turner asked her, “When you have a system that delivers this kind of service are they (JTA) letting that group of people down?”

Steiner’s answer was a resounding, “Absolutely! This is a transit agency that’s facing challenges that’s potentially in, in sort of, in this, in what is called ... the downward spiral.”

INVESTIGATES: How much time is JTA’s CEO spending in the office?

The Jacksonville Transportation Authority reports its operational metrics to the FTC every year. CEO Nat Ford was out of town, again, for this presentation, but sent Executive Vice President Cleveland Ferguson in his place. In the meeting, Ferguson admitted, “We are down in some of our on-time performance … we are down in terms of service reliability and so forth.”

For a bus system that gets an operations budget of almost $138 million taxpayer dollars a year, and more than $16 million of that from our local option gas tax, Steiner said the metrics paint a very clear picture of a bus system in the red in almost every way measurable. When asked how she would grade JTA’s metrics, she said, “It’s probably an E or an F.”

Here’s why: In the last three years, JTA’s bus operating expenses jumped by almost $7 million while doing less work.

...

According to the FTC’s draft report:

-the system moves fewer people: -1,785,591 annual passenger trips

-covers fewer miles showing: -13,607,275 annual passenger miles and -228,362 total revenue miles

-operates three fewer vehicles for fewer hours: -6,957 total revenue hours

-and runs less frequently: +17.3 minutes, average headway than it did just three years ago

...

That “decline in performance” doesn’t end there. The local option gas tax Jacksonville voters approved in 2021 came with promises of more jobs and new roads and, thankfully, an accountability page.

We checked that page. Of the more than $18 million received so far, only about $1.5 million of that has been spent, creating a whopping eight of the 1,541 jobs it promised and zero of 153 roadways.

While JTA has less than stellar reviews when it comes to services and delivering on gas tax promises, Nat Ford’s report card is stellar. JTA’s “independent” board gave the CEO a four-out-of-four “exceeds expectations” rating on his annual evaluation. That evaluation is directly tied to his almost $90,000 bonus, which last year he received in full.

Current Board Chair, Debbie Buckland, said, “Mr. Ford’s performance for fiscal year ending in 9/30/2022 exceeds expectations. Leading an organization as complex as JTA requires not just exemplary executive leadership skills but focus and attention to many minute details.”

Draft FTC Accountability Report: https://www.scribd.com/document/688703971/DRAFT-2022-Transit-Authority-Report#from_embed

Gas Tax Dashboard:
https://www.jobsforjax.net/dashboard/

https://www.actionnewsjax.com/news/investigates/action-news-jax-investigates-uncovered-major-declines-jtas-service-promises/CKDVZI3J5ZGOPCO6UMGLKP7QGM/

Jax_Developer

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Re: Time to cut bait on JTA's driverless Skyway replacement
« Reply #137 on: December 01, 2023, 12:29:31 PM »
I've been saying this for years, but I finally put some math to it. 
  • A basic Tesla 3 costs $38,000.  If you purchased 50 of them you'd probably get a discount, but we'll just stick with the base price.  Total cost, $1.9M
  • For now you can hire 100 drivers to assist with operation of the cars throughout the week.  As automation improves, drivers are gone. Total Cost, $4.5M
  • Hire 8 managers at a cost of $110k. Generous, but JTA loves those high salaried employees. Total cost, $880k
  • Hire 8 back office support staff with salaries averaging $75k. Total cost, $600k
  • Hire a team of 4 mechanics with $60k salaries. Teslas don't even really need mechanics, but just in case. Total cost, $240k
  • Hire a VP of the automation division and pay them a cush salary of $200k because why not?
  • Hire 2 software coders to help with updates to the cars.  Pay them each $90k.  I don't think they'd be needed, but just in case. Total cost, $180k
  • Finally, build a $5M facility for parking cars while not in use, repairs, back office facilities, and driver break rooms, training rooms, etc.

This can all be implemented for $5M in start up costs and annual labor costs of $6.4M.  You could move over 1,000 people an hour (this is almost as much as all of JTA moves throughout the day based on the News4Jax piece.  Apparently ridership is 20k a day). Add in 10 of the forthcoming tesla delivery vans for hauling people with large packages... add bike racks to all cars... cross train drivers to handle the vans.... $3M for a washing facility... Quadruple the budget and it still makes so much more sense than U2C.

Edit: This could be scaled up to replace JTA entirely, but for now it's just U2C.  Factor in tax breaks for an all electric fleet and baby, we've got a stew going.

Literally. The idea of working with some no name EV company and building it's operations locally is so uneconomical it is hilarious. Tesla, a US manufacturer, has the best EV's on the market & not once has there been any consideration of Tesla. That's rich.


Charles, that piece is interesting. I'm looking up this video now.

jaxlongtimer

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Re: Time to cut bait on JTA's driverless Skyway replacement
« Reply #138 on: December 02, 2023, 12:02:39 AM »
Interesting, Captain.  I think you are underpaying your drivers. Pretty sure they make more than $21/hour.

Action News broadcast their next installment of their look at JTA yesterday

Quote
We talked to industry expert, Dr. Ruth Steiner about that bus service and its annual report to the Florida Transportation Commission, or FTC. She is a professor and director at the Center for Health and The Built Environment at University of Florida and said JTA’s own numbers show it’s falling short.

Turner asked her, “When you have a system that delivers this kind of service are they (JTA) letting that group of people down?”

Steiner’s answer was a resounding, “Absolutely! This is a transit agency that’s facing challenges that’s potentially in, in sort of, in this, in what is called ... the downward spiral.”

INVESTIGATES: How much time is JTA’s CEO spending in the office?

The Jacksonville Transportation Authority reports its operational metrics to the FTC every year. CEO Nat Ford was out of town, again, for this presentation, but sent Executive Vice President Cleveland Ferguson in his place. In the meeting, Ferguson admitted, “We are down in some of our on-time performance … we are down in terms of service reliability and so forth.”

For a bus system that gets an operations budget of almost $138 million taxpayer dollars a year, and more than $16 million of that from our local option gas tax, Steiner said the metrics paint a very clear picture of a bus system in the red in almost every way measurable. When asked how she would grade JTA’s metrics, she said, “It’s probably an E or an F.”

Here’s why: In the last three years, JTA’s bus operating expenses jumped by almost $7 million while doing less work.

...

According to the FTC’s draft report:

-the system moves fewer people: -1,785,591 annual passenger trips

-covers fewer miles showing: -13,607,275 annual passenger miles and -228,362 total revenue miles

-operates three fewer vehicles for fewer hours: -6,957 total revenue hours

-and runs less frequently: +17.3 minutes, average headway than it did just three years ago

...

That “decline in performance” doesn’t end there. The local option gas tax Jacksonville voters approved in 2021 came with promises of more jobs and new roads and, thankfully, an accountability page.

We checked that page. Of the more than $18 million received so far, only about $1.5 million of that has been spent, creating a whopping eight of the 1,541 jobs it promised and zero of 153 roadways.

While JTA has less than stellar reviews when it comes to services and delivering on gas tax promises, Nat Ford’s report card is stellar. JTA’s “independent” board gave the CEO a four-out-of-four “exceeds expectations” rating on his annual evaluation. That evaluation is directly tied to his almost $90,000 bonus, which last year he received in full.

Current Board Chair, Debbie Buckland, said, “Mr. Ford’s performance for fiscal year ending in 9/30/2022 exceeds expectations. Leading an organization as complex as JTA requires not just exemplary executive leadership skills but focus and attention to many minute details.”

Draft FTC Accountability Report: https://www.scribd.com/document/688703971/DRAFT-2022-Transit-Authority-Report#from_embed

Gas Tax Dashboard:
https://www.jobsforjax.net/dashboard/

https://www.actionnewsjax.com/news/investigates/action-news-jax-investigates-uncovered-major-declines-jtas-service-promises/CKDVZI3J5ZGOPCO6UMGLKP7QGM/

This.  And they haven't even tacked on the ridiculous U2C project yet.  Someone needs to encourage them to keep investigating to the end!

thelakelander

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Re: Time to cut bait on JTA's driverless Skyway replacement
« Reply #139 on: December 02, 2023, 05:06:00 PM »
We went through a good decade hearing (being sold) about how the First Coast Flyer would be like LRT but better. Haven't really heard a peep on performance or ridership growth since its completion. This would explain why. History is now repeating itself with 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: Time to cut bait on JTA's driverless Skyway replacement
« Reply #140 on: December 16, 2023, 10:19:40 PM »
JTA's Board Meeting was on Thursday. Lot of praise for Nat Ford and the future of transportation. Included some slides on their initiatives:





We went through a good decade hearing (being sold) about how the First Coast Flyer would be like LRT but better. Haven't really heard a peep on performance or ridership growth since its completion. This would explain why. History is now repeating itself with the U2C.

They continue to mention the prospect of eventually expanding the U2C to the proposed 10-mile length, as well as how "even more advanced transit" will eventually develop along the Flyer corridors. I have a list myself of improvements I've thought of to encourage ridership but I don't think that's what they have in mind. Their (outgoing) COO did talk about a ride he took with Chairwoman Buckland using the new mobile app, which is something I guess. But as I've said before, I question the real institutional commitment to actually running transit as opposed to becoming a tech firm in the image of Nat Ford.

On a very related note: the latest episode of Making Moves also came out on Thursday. It is also chock-full of praise for Nat Ford and insistence that autonomous vehicles are ready and the future. It also includes this quote from Greer Johnson-Gillis, given during a talk at the APTA Expo:

Quote
You see at the JTA, we don't consider ourselves as just a public transportation agency, we are mobility integrators.

Whatever that means.
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

marcuscnelson

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Re: Time to cut bait on JTA's driverless Skyway replacement
« Reply #141 on: December 16, 2023, 10:35:47 PM »
I've been saying this for years, but I finally put some math to it. 
  • A basic Tesla 3 costs $38,000.  If you purchased 50 of them you'd probably get a discount, but we'll just stick with the base price.  Total cost, $1.9M
  • For now you can hire 100 drivers to assist with operation of the cars throughout the week.  As automation improves, drivers are gone. Total Cost, $4.5M
  • Hire 8 managers at a cost of $110k. Generous, but JTA loves those high salaried employees. Total cost, $880k
  • Hire 8 back office support staff with salaries averaging $75k. Total cost, $600k
  • Hire a team of 4 mechanics with $60k salaries. Teslas don't even really need mechanics, but just in case. Total cost, $240k
  • Hire a VP of the automation division and pay them a cush salary of $200k because why not?
  • Hire 2 software coders to help with updates to the cars.  Pay them each $90k.  I don't think they'd be needed, but just in case. Total cost, $180k
  • Finally, build a $5M facility for parking cars while not in use, repairs, back office facilities, and driver break rooms, training rooms, etc.

This can all be implemented for $5M in start up costs and annual labor costs of $6.4M.  You could move over 1,000 people an hour (this is almost as much as all of JTA moves throughout the day based on the News4Jax piece.  Apparently ridership is 20k a day). Add in 10 of the forthcoming tesla delivery vans for hauling people with large packages... add bike racks to all cars... cross train drivers to handle the vans.... $3M for a washing facility... Quadruple the budget and it still makes so much more sense than U2C.

Edit: This could be scaled up to replace JTA entirely, but for now it's just U2C.  Factor in tax breaks for an all electric fleet and baby, we've got a stew going.

This is just ReadiRide, AKA "microtransit." A lot of transit agencies have fallen for this idea of simply making their transit system into Uber (including JTA themselves!), but the fundamental problem has always been one of geometry. Basing your transit system around smaller vehicles that someone has to drive means that costs escalate rapidly with scale unlike traditional transit which often becomes more efficient. On top of that, because they're just cars, they use up a ton more space. If you're somewhere that population is declining, or where literally no matter what you do people will simply not use transit except as a last resort, this is fine.

But what almost always happens is that as soon as microtransit is convenient for people, too many people try to use it, and it quickly becomes more expensive than simply running normal transit. As Nat Ford himself mentioned at Thursday's meeting with ReadiRide, this forces operators to make it harder to use, which means either raising prices or limiting access. In theory, autonomous vehicles are a solution to this by eliminating the driver which helps reduce operating costs, but that still requires the vehicle to take up space on roads, and being bookable means that more likely than not they simply act like cars, with a single occupant wanting to go from point to point. Unless you limit this, you actually can't carry anywhere near 1,000 people per hour, which is exactly what JTA already figured out with the Bay Street Innovation Corridor but doesn't publicly discuss. The Skyway costs a few million more a year to run than your idea and yet can carry far more people if they were to board.

You're not the first person to fall into the trap, but it is a trap. Just build transit.
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: Time to cut bait on JTA's driverless Skyway replacement
« Reply #142 on: December 17, 2023, 12:11:51 AM »
I note that neither of the slides below discuss how many riders JTA is, or plans, to transport in a given time frame.  What transit evaluation doesn't include those statistics as a benchmark for operational success?  JTA Board doesn't seem to have learned any lessons from JEA's Board and the Zahn fiasco.  Train bus/AV wreck on the way.





Charles Hunter

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Re: Time to cut bait on JTA's driverless Skyway replacement
« Reply #143 on: December 17, 2023, 08:10:36 AM »
Maybe the measurement is, "Column inches in transit, planning, and AV -oriented publications."

thelakelander

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Re: Time to cut bait on JTA's driverless Skyway replacement
« Reply #144 on: December 17, 2023, 08:57:29 AM »
Those numbers don't say much of anything. Has ridership gone up since the implementation of the FCF? How does it compare apples to apples with other BRT and BRT-lite projects in peer communities over the same period of time? Would love to see the metrics compared to the Richmond and St Pete projects. I mean, we know tax money was spent and that that JTA staff, consulting firms, construction jobs and bus manufacturing jobs, etc. we're supported. So the investment numbers on those slides don't carry much weight. Heck, Tri-Legacy created jobs with their failed Shipyards investment 20 years ago. Where's the meat in this presentation?

What I'm looking for is where do we lack and where can we improve in areas that out peers have excelled at? I was around in the smoke selling days of BRT. FCF is no where close to what was promised and shown on slick renderings at the time. The public was promised "like LRT but more flexible and cheaper". What I see looks and smells like a bus. Definitely no real TOD stimulated. Judging from the mostly empty bus stops, I question how ridership has performed?
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Jax_Developer

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Re: Time to cut bait on JTA's driverless Skyway replacement
« Reply #145 on: December 17, 2023, 10:00:02 AM »
The most backward agency I've seen. Imagine praising this crap. Really shows how low the bar is.

marcuscnelson

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Re: Time to cut bait on JTA's driverless Skyway replacement
« Reply #146 on: December 17, 2023, 01:39:56 PM »
I note that neither of the slides below discuss how many riders JTA is, or plans, to transport in a given time frame.  What transit evaluation doesn't include those statistics as a benchmark for operational success?  JTA Board doesn't seem to have learned any lessons from JEA's Board and the Zahn fiasco.  Train bus/AV wreck on the way.

Those numbers don't say much of anything. Has ridership gone up since the implementation of the FCF? How does it compare apples to apples with other BRT and BRT-lite projects in peer communities over the same period of time? Would love to see the metrics compared to the Richmond and St Pete projects. I mean, we know tax money was spent and that that JTA staff, consulting firms, construction jobs and bus manufacturing jobs, etc. we're supported. So the investment numbers on those slides don't carry much weight. Heck, Tri-Legacy created jobs with their failed Shipyards investment 20 years ago. Where's the meat in this presentation?

What I'm looking for is where do we lack and where can we improve in areas that out peers have excelled at? I was around in the smoke selling days of BRT. FCF is no where close to what was promised and shown on slick renderings at the time. The public was promised "like LRT but more flexible and cheaper". What I see looks and smells like a bus. Definitely no real TOD stimulated. Judging from the mostly empty bus stops, I question how ridership has performed?

The COO did discuss ridership improving over last year, but did not list these statistics visually. Action News notes their overall performance issues, and during the meeting Ford led a discussion of his efforts to change the metrics by which JTA is reviewed by the Florida Transportation Commission. Some quotes of that included "When you're missing the metric by 300% that means the metric is wrong," "…so we need to set realistic goals," and "You can't lump all of us into one set of metrics and have that work." There was a claim that the metrics don't account for the existence of Uber and other rideshare companies, suggesting that perhaps they think that Jacksonville is uniquely impacted by this compared to other Florida cities.

Just in general, I watched a deep-seated rejection of the indication the authority wants to act like a public transit agency, and instead a wish to simply change the scoring so that the numbers are fine as-is and they can continue roleplaying as a tech conglomerate. Frankly I become concerned by the sheer volume of praise everyone from the board to executives insists on heaping upon Nat Ford specifically. It strains credibility. The Making Moves episode is completely ridiculous.

I've said before, but personally I think a glaring issue is that there don't appear to be any real capital plans beyond the U2C. Commuter rail is technically on there but we've seen it largely serve as spinning wheels for more studies, there is a "BRT" map that they have demonstrated no progress on. The ferry is perhaps the one positive point. They understandably mentioned during the meeting that nearly half of their operators have less than two years of experience and are prioritizing safety over schedules, but that should indicate the need to improve infrastructure so that they can drive safely. Instead there's been this seething hatred of the 40-foot bus, including during the meeting itself. How can you run a transit agency that hates buses?
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: Time to cut bait on JTA's driverless Skyway replacement
« Reply #147 on: December 17, 2023, 03:20:18 PM »
Safety vs Schedules - I read that as "schedule adherence" or "on-time performance."
If the schedule consistently cannot be met, that means the service planners need to evaluate the time allotted in the schedule and (in most cases) add time to the schedule. For example, if the schedule allows 30 minutes to get from the downtown terminal to the end-of-the-line, and drivers are consistently 7 minutes late - it's time to change the schedule to allow 37 minutes to make the trip. Of course, this messes with the desire to have "clock-face" schedules - leaves DT on the hour, reaches the suburban end at the half-hour, returns DT on the hour - but it reflects what the drivers can safely perform. Another option, especially if management is married to clock-faces, is to revise the route to match the desired travel time. Of course, this probably means you omit some parts of the route, but if you have data on where boardings occur (and the electronic fareboxes can provide it), you may be able to adjust the route without too much passenger pain. This isn't hard.

On the other hand, if only certain drivers are having trouble meeting the schedule, they may need more training, or "counseling" to understand the importance of keeping a schedule.

jaxlongtimer

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Re: Time to cut bait on JTA's driverless Skyway replacement
« Reply #148 on: December 17, 2023, 06:42:25 PM »
Based on your report Marcus, it sounds like JTA's way of scoring things is if they lost a football game, the winning score would be the lowest score, not the highest.  But, if they win a game, it is back to the highest score.  So, their team is always undefeated.

"Stupid is as stupid does" should be the theme of the JTA leadership, board included.

marcuscnelson

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Re: Time to cut bait on JTA's driverless Skyway replacement
« Reply #149 on: December 17, 2023, 10:03:14 PM »
Based on your report Marcus, it sounds like JTA's way of scoring things is if they lost a football game, the winning score would be the lowest score, not the highest.  But, if they win a game, it is back to the highest score.  So, their team is always undefeated.

I'd say more, they want it to be okay if they lose the football game because they want to play quidditch instead, and since quidditch isn't on par with the NFL "yet" but it's "the future of sports" they're at the head of that pack while everyone watches with bewilderment at what the heck the football team is doing spending so much money on quidditch.
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