Author Topic: BRT Meeting Held at City Hall  (Read 2908 times)

Metro Jacksonville

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BRT Meeting Held at City Hall
« on: August 03, 2007, 11:15:00 AM »
BRT Meeting Held at City Hall



A brief summary of Councilwoman Glorious Johnson's meeting with JTA and various representatives of concerned residents, regarding bus rapid transit's impact on our community.

Full Article
http://www.metrojacksonville.com/content/view/526

thelakelander

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Re: BRT Meeting Held at City Hall
« Reply #1 on: August 03, 2007, 03:22:04 PM »
Here's a link to review from another participant in yesterday's meeting.

http://jaxoutloud.com/forum/showthread.php?t=624&page=2
"A man who views the world the same at 50 as he did at 20 has wasted 30 years of his life.” - Muhammad Ali

avonjax

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Re: BRT Meeting Held at City Hall
« Reply #2 on: August 03, 2007, 11:24:17 PM »
I really believe that the JTA is only considering those who have no choice but use public transportation in their plans for the BRT.
With the price of gas escalating, the expense of parking downtown, and the increasing traffic in the suburbs,  it seems that all us would benefit with a plan that would offer a choice of alternative transportation, including buses and light rail.
I believe too, that most people with cars will not be using the BRT.
If the BRT is JTA's only plan for the future, I'm afraid their ridership will never reach it's potential and the congestion on our streets, especially at rush hour will only get much worse.






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BRT Meeting Held at City Hall
« Reply #3 on: August 04, 2007, 04:10:44 PM »
THE SEEDS OF CHANGE? Apocalyptic Transit Get's Railroaded


Where will all the old electric cars come from? How about Jacksonville? I talked the CEO of CSX into bringing this retired car here back in the 1980's, bought by a City Councilman when the "Trolley Project" was killed, wonder where she is today? BTW, there are lot's more to be found...

First I want to offer my most grateful thanks to City Councilwoman Glorious Johnson, for having the love and concern for our City to make the meeting possible. For her foresight and creativity in formation of a committee of citizens and professionals to make detailed studies and comments on this critical issue. I also want to thank her for the gracious and kind words as she introduced me to the group. To Ennis for his truly incredible Power Point presentation, that frankly set JTA on edge within the first few frames. His research, poise, presentation and information were absolutely first rate, excellent job my friend. Diane, deserves much credit in putting the meeting together, and for making various points crystal clear to those present. Certainly when a moment of rudeness attempted to steal the thunder Ennis had packaged, she exerted both power and grace in returning the meeting to an orderly process. Steve, awaited the completion of the presentation by Ennis, as if he could read JTA's mind. Interestingly, as soon as they were allowed a rebuttal, he was quite able to call their bluff on several projects. At one point bring a heated response "Are you saying we are being disingenuous?" JTA, Rail to Trails and all others present, made valid and often important points for us to consider. All in all, everyone present displayed a wonderful mix of grace, professionalism and love of City of which truly great urban centers are made.

My take on the BRT / LRT meeting is perhaps somewhat more positive then what has been previously published. Understand that I am under no illusions that we waved a magic wand and the City of Jacksonville suddenly saw the light, not at all. But compared with the experiences of the 1980's and from what I have read of the stonewalling of more recent days, we seemed to have witnessed a seed change. The change perhaps came mid-meeting, and I believe it was when JTA realized they were not dealing with the "peasantry," but indeed Urban Forums, business owners, activists, planners, engineers and transportation professionals every bit their equal. They were NOT going to take this group for a "bus" ride.



So our new trail is going down the middle because there isn't enough room for Mass Transit? Oh my God! Someone quick call the State of Maryland, because their planners are obviously living an illusion.

The first and most urgent issue of concern is the announcement that the City plans to start a $1.5 million dollar bike and hiking "Rails to Trails" right down the center of the former "S" line. The wisdom in this project must be questioned on several points. This trail will bi-sect the infamous bloody blocks North of Shands Hospital. Just who is going to go roller skating through or from these projects to Myrtle Avenue? Will we call this this "S" line trail or will those who stumble along it just be following the proverbial "white lines on the freeway?" (snorting cocaine). Perhaps we could have a contest to name the trail, a few of my own suggestions would be the "Ho Ho Ho Highway", "Freebase Freeway", "Gangster Gauntlet" or "Pathway to Heaven". Without first putting in the surrounding redevelopment, and only then connecting it with a trail system, we have the cart before the horse. Why is this being built right down the center of a former double track railroad when there is plenty of room to build it to one side or the other. This should be either stopped, or at least moved to one side, to allow concurrent mass transit development that would bring on TOD's. Thus with new housing, retail, hotels and parks the trail system would have something a little brighter to connect. 


Jacksonville just doesn't have the room for Light Rail Transit, so we are planning to build another freeway like this one, restrict it to buses only, and run it right on top of our underused rail line... But don't worry, "we want to do Commuter Rail... Someday!"

On the issue of Mass Transit on the former "S" line, a real interesting comment came from JTA is the form of "We haven't asked for the "S" line because the City won't give it to us..." this was compounded by dialog that included such things as "They won't give us money; we are a State Agency; they don't work with us; they don't like us; they think our mommies dress us funny... etc."  "However, we at JTA are doing a study on the "S" line for future Mass Transit use!"  Steve, of Metro-Jacksonville pounced on that one, "How can you say you are doing a study of the "S" line for Mass Transit, when you just told us the City WON'T give it to you?" A rather heated response came from Mike, "Are you saying we are disingenuous?"  Diane, jumped in and blew the whistle restoring peace to a heavy-weight bout that already had JTA on the ropes. But Steve's point is well taken, just why would we "study" something which we can never have? Taken to the next logical point is what do they mean by "Mass Transit?" JTA never once used the words LIGHT RAIL, though they did say, commuter rail and "We are the ones that brought the Orlando DMU train here..." Uhhh Huh?
How much do you want to bet that is news to Representatives Brown and Mica!
 



A few have questioned if a New Jersey type, DMU/Electric LRT could mix with our historic streetcars that I am pushing? Perhaps this photo from San Jose will clear up the questions. Oh under the hood? Same vehicle, one is just a wee bit older that's all.

JTA's contention that I-95 would be the quickest way to link Gateway Mall to Jacksonville Terminal (the so-called Transportation Center) is so far removed from centers of commerce, residence and activity as to be ridiculous. In the early 1980's I was party to a survey done by the National Trailways Bus System, which demonstrated quite clearly that passengers didn't mind an extra 10 minutes or even 30 minutes on the Coach, as long as two things were present. The Motor Coach HAD to go where they wanted to go AND it also had to run on time, every time. Zooming past everything and everywhere anybody wants to go is not the way to effect BRT in any neighborhood. BRT has had some marginal success in Los Angeles, but it operates as a system of feeders from a trunk line. The trunk lines are Light Rail, Subway and Metro-Link Commuter rail. Again, are we putting the cart before the horse?


Several have asked if I was able to behave while at the meeting. Well what they didn't know is that my Colombian Born wife and my daughter were just outside the door and I was under strict "Colombian style - Make My Day" orders not to cause any red faces! Ever see a really angry Nun?  


Ennis was able to shoot down a City Parks comment that the "S" line is blocked by a new school by demonstrating that the land to the East of the projects and above the former "S"  line already belongs to the City and could easily be used to facilitate a connection between the former Seaboard "S" and the current St. Johns River Terminal RR or NS trackage.

On the Westside, the plan for BRT is a new elevated freeway exclusively for buses to be built above the CSX "A" line from Jacksonville Terminal, South to Roosevelt. They DID say this was planned because it was going to be much easier to build then having to negotiate with CSX for use of what will now be light traffic density track. Excuse me, but if we have to negotiate for rights to build a monster freeway over the CSX at the cost of 100's of millions of dollars, wouldn't it be cheaper just to negotiate for use of the tracks and forget the freeway?

I almost choked when Mike suggested the "railroad's are mean spirited and we just didn't understand who we were dealing with..." Mike, if you read this, "I AM THE RAILROADS!" To contend that 20 years for BRT is going to be a better deal then to deal with railroads is just comical in the face of several lines that got up and running with a couple of years or less. That rail traffic shift should open more opportunities then just the "A" line South, as a cut-off slices from Callahan to Baldwin to funnel the traffic headed South, without the need to enter Jacksonville. A newer cut-off and container yard also comes off the CSX above the current Amtrak Station and heads South roughly along Jones Road and re-connects with the mainline from downtown to Baldwin. Thus the entire downtown - Baldwin link is also seeing freight traffic, but not on the scale to make a few commuter trains impossible.



What if JTA got it's transit ideas from India? Well here is a photo of our future as JTA see's it! A Sky-Bus system with a commuter rail line underneath. Business must be really good because some are walking anyway.

When the elevated structure of the Busway was shown, JTA jumped on the attack saying this was a drawing just for the Arlington Expressway. "As you know, it's narrow, there are service roads and no room for transit, so we plan to elevate it," said Mike. He went on about how the rest of the system would be ground level and we misrepresented their plans. I don't believe anyone in the room mis-understood those plans. We knew the drawings were from Arlington Expressway, but it illustrated other parts of the system too. How does one build a ground level bus freeway down the middle of the CSX "A" line? Do any of us think as the BRT reaches north along I-95 they will not bridge 8Th or MLK?  I asked him if this was guided bus technology, or a bus that follows a signal laid into the pavement. They responded "Oh no, that's too expensive, this will be a standard operating system." So the next question becomes, what happens when the driver has a blowout, faints or has a heart attack while driving on a narrow path 25 feet in the air? Further what about system connectivity? For example, in a recent trip to see my family in California, I boarded Metro-Link Commuter Rail in Santa Clarita, about 30 miles North of Los Angeles. In no time at all, we were whistling past automobiles on the Golden State Freeway and pulling into Los Angeles Union Passenger Terminal. There we followed the signs to the Red Line Subway, within seconds a new subway train came blowing into the station and we boarded to Central Los Angeles. There we changed up a flight to street level and aboard the Blue Line Light Rail to Long Beach... We were never delayed, we transferred across platforms and the whole thing took less time then a drive from Santa Clarita to Silmar!

As for "The Old Hippie" aka: "Ocklawaha", I listened to the first half without much comment, as I was overwhelmed by a sense of being among my people again. I wanted to talk and share story's with everyone in the room, but time nor protocol allowed for such luxury's. I was able to quiz JTA face to face on their field trips to Bogota, Santiago or Curitiba. Most major transit agency's have sent study teams their to be given a glowing tour of the Worlds most successful BRT systems. After allowing them to climb on-board my great BRT system experience, they sadly told me they couldn't go because of severe budget constraints. I explained to them that I HAD been there and seen it in action, that it was as busy as they claim...etc. Then told them how the buses bunch up at the stops, how the angry crowds standing in the rain riot and the national police have to rush in to put out the violence. How in Santiago, mobs turn the BRT buses on their sides and burn them... and how Curitiba, the "Worlds Greatest System" is converting to rail. JTA's response? Oh, Ottawa, we did go there, they have quite a system. My comeback, yes, and converting it to rail also. To which Brisbane, Australia, became the model, and I have to agree. As BRT goes, so it went!

I was also able to toss out a vision for a new, heritage trolley line through downtown. Mike commented we could never use Duval, it's just too narrow. But wasn't that a faux trolley I saw on Duval? Didn't the City buses once circle Hemming Plaza? Oh and Mike, I didn't mention, the streetcar tracks are already there, just under the pavement... you see, Duval WAS a streetcar line once upon a time. In all fairness, not being from Jacksonville, he had no way to know this without a study of the old system. I made sure both JTA folks left with maps and materials on that very subject.




Here we see a Scotrail DMU train running away from the expensive busway bus which is going an incredible 35 mph... The train left it in it's ballast dust.


Metro-Jacksonville is understandably pushing hard for a New Jersey River line DMU type train. GREAT! I am pushing for Light Rail starting in the form of Heritage Streetcars and growing from there. Do the two conflict? Not a bit. In fact if we pooled our resources as we did in this meeting we could have a wondrous transit system, for penny's on the BRT dollar. Heritage Trolleys could be built aside from JTA or the FTA. We could use urban grants, special bed or entertainment tax or other dedicated funding and be under-construction within a year or two. The same could also apply for the abandoned portion of the "S" line. Those "big" New Jersey River line LRV's are diesel-electric powered and heavy and the Heritage or Modern Streetcars are light, so how to mix them? EASY. We simply build a connection between Jacksonville Terminal and CSX Building that allows one track to swing off the new railroad platforms and onto Water Street. From that point East WATER - INDEPENDENCE - (turn North) NEWNAN - (turn East) BEAVER across Hogans Creek to the old Maxwell House railroad alignment. Hence the big "River Line" cars turn North to Springfield on their own railroad track. Meanwhile the lighter Heritage Trolleys and Modern Streetcars continue East on Beaver to (turn South) Randolph - (turn West) Duval - (turn South) LEE - (turn East) to Water on light weight (and thus CHEAP) streetcar track. That first mile might run $12-15 million for the heavy portion, the rest no more then $5 million (including poles, wire, transformers and stations). Now the beauty of all of this is that ANYTHING Diesel Electric, can be dual powered. All the Diesel engine does is turn a generator that powers "Trolley" motors in the trucks (wheel sets). Many systems use electric wire pickup to go total electric downtown, then drop the pantograph and go diesel out of town.  



For those that still question the use of a DMU on downtown streets, remember they come in all sizes. Keep in mind also, dual power is EASY. Here we see a DMU train in France playing electric or diesel depending on where it operates.  


In conclusion: I don't really think anything remains the same. JTA has been put on notice that we have their number and the professionals to back it up. If they won't move toward Light Rail or the "S" line, then perhaps we should. Is this committee the beginning of a REAL Jacksonville TRANSIT Agency? Could JTA build HOV-BUS (cheap BRT) lanes into the Northwest side of town along Moncrief, Lem Turner and MLK to feed a growing Skyway and Commuter Rail system. Sure they could, and does that Skyway, Streetcar or Commuter Rail system need to be JTA's? You bet it doesn't. In the end Mike was right, JTA does have to jump through 1,000 of often stupid hoops to prove their plans to the FTA. Perhaps that is why, more and more, Cities like Houston, skipped the red tape and did it themselves. Let's finish the Skyway, let's build the Streetcars and if needs be, JTA will still be waiting for the bus. In the words of a very great football team, "Let's do this..."  

Comments? My unofficial poll... Which vehicle would you bring YOUR friends and family to ride?


 

Ocklawaha
« Last Edit: August 04, 2007, 04:48:30 PM by Ocklawaha »

thelakelander

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Re: BRT Meeting Held at City Hall
« Reply #4 on: August 04, 2007, 04:51:01 PM »
Great summary Ock.  As I told Councilwoman Johnson and Diane, we aren't going anywhere and we're happy to assist in any fashion possible.  Let's keep the heat on.
"A man who views the world the same at 50 as he did at 20 has wasted 30 years of his life.” - Muhammad Ali

02roadking

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Re: BRT Meeting Held at City Hall
« Reply #5 on: August 04, 2007, 10:58:53 PM »
I think congratulations are in order. It sounds as though you did a great job. Wish I had been there. Hopefully, I can be next time.
Springfield since 1998

thelakelander

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Re: BRT Meeting Held at City Hall
« Reply #6 on: August 05, 2007, 02:06:42 PM »
The push has to get stronger.

1. JTA is still moving forward with the entire BRT plan. 

2. JTA is already sending out feelers to acquire ROW for the dedicated busways.  If something is not done soon, they'll probably start purchasing ROW within the next year or so.

3. Construction on the S-Line jogging path starts in SIX WEEKS.  The contract has already been rewarded and the contractor selected.

"A man who views the world the same at 50 as he did at 20 has wasted 30 years of his life.” - Muhammad Ali

Ocklawaha

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Re: BRT Meeting Held at City Hall
« Reply #7 on: August 05, 2007, 05:18:46 PM »
HIGH NOON FOR BRT!

I agree, we didn't stop a single thing, but the positive is that they know who we are now. They must realize that experiments on the poor or disadvantaged of our community reeks of Alpine villages such as Ravensbruck. They better know, we haven't yet Begin to show our fighting spirit or professional rebukes of this foolhardy idea.



Councilwoman Johnson was correct in saying, "When will JTA do something for these Northside residents?" To which Mike tossed back, "The Northside makes up 50% of our total ridership!" BINGO! There is the flaw in the whole scheme. JTA (the highway builder) assuming Mass Transit is only for the poor, disabled, disadvantaged and non-drivers. There is NOTHING in the BRT plan to attract "Joe Briefcase" for his morning commute. That's why the lines don't reach out into the community... Sure they are just lines on a map, but they only go as far as the nearest lower income areas. NAS JAX, Blanding, Orange Park, Avenues, etc... don't count because "they won't ride the bus anyway." Where we put it in those poor districts doesn't matter because they either won't or can't complain. Silence is "Pearly White" and so are new concrete highways.

As for the "Pathway of Death", over on the old "S" line. Well folks, it COULD be stopped and moved with the motion of a roller-ball pen. If not, take heart that the purposes of "Rails to Trails" is to conserve the right-of-way for future transportation use. But let the buyer beware, JTA did not say they were studying the "S" line for DMU's, Light Rail or Commuter Rail, just that they are studying it for Mass or Rapid Transit. Cat out of the bag anyone? A big ugly diesel cat, in circus colors, with rubber tires, belching as it goes, BRT my friends.

1. Let's gear up to stop the "Pathway of Death" before we build it to rip it apart.

2. Let's talk to the City about forming a downtown Light Rail Heritage and Commuter Rail District, with dedicated funding and take this project away from JTA, FTA and FDOT.

3. Take the Skyway away from them and add it to our Special District.

4.. Let's split up JTA and send the highway builders to an attractive new office with black glass windows, in the center of a 40 acre parking lot. Hold the AC, too expensive, I mean, the poor live without it right?

"WE THE PEOPLE, IN CONVENTION ASSEMBLED..." We have the power!


Ocklawaha
« Last Edit: August 05, 2007, 05:20:37 PM by Ocklawaha »

spidey

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Re: BRT Meeting Held at City Hall
« Reply #8 on: August 05, 2007, 08:59:27 PM »
Here's what's pushing JTA and BRT, Lake.....

Quote
Rapid Transit System Phase 1: Downtown Transit Enhancements Design and Construction
Jacksonville Transportation Authority
Amount Secured: $9,870,000

This funding will provide for design and construction of the phase 1, Downtown segment, of the Rapid Transit System project. This project includes dedicated bus lanes, rapid transit stations, signal priority and intermodal connections. Contained in Transportation, Housing and Urban Development Appropriations bill.


I found the info on Sen. Martinez's website.  Evidently the bill has passed the US Senate Appropriations committee and is ready for full Senate approval.

thelakelander

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Re: BRT Meeting Held at City Hall
« Reply #9 on: August 05, 2007, 09:15:35 PM »
Nice find.  That's definately bad news for 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

spidey

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Re: BRT Meeting Held at City Hall
« Reply #10 on: August 05, 2007, 09:33:15 PM »
Yes it is definitely bad news.  My heart sunk when I saw it.....especially because I think the S-line is such a great idea that makes so much more sense in many, many ways.

JTA will find it very hard to switch horses in midstream should the bill pass.

thelakelander

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Re: BRT Meeting Held at City Hall
« Reply #11 on: August 05, 2007, 10:54:34 PM »
At the very least we have to continue the fight to keep this crap off of Adams and to a lesser degree Forsyth and Bay.
"A man who views the world the same at 50 as he did at 20 has wasted 30 years of his life.” - Muhammad Ali

Ocklawaha

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CONCEEDE?
« Reply #12 on: August 05, 2007, 11:38:25 PM »
Adams? Bay? We're going to get it up the yazoo anyway, so let's help them put it someplace nice... Listen my friends, these projects can be defeated in the Court of public opinion. They have been defeated in the Court of public opinion. We must fight on, claws and fur, tooth and nail...JTA has already sensed that "SINKING FEELING."


NEVER GIVE UP! NEVER SURRENDER!

CONCEEDE NOTHING TO JTA!

DULUDED AND DEFEATED PEOPLE GIVE IN!


Ocklawaha
« Last Edit: August 05, 2007, 11:47:39 PM by Ocklawaha »

thelakelander

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Re: BRT Meeting Held at City Hall
« Reply #13 on: August 06, 2007, 09:07:31 AM »
There's no quit here, however I do try to put things in their proper place.  Overall, there's nothing wrong with the concept of express buses, when applied in the right situation.  In downtown, there's a positive in consolidating the existing bus routes and putting them on a single corridor to get them out of the way and using the skyway and trolleys to serve the immediate downtown core.  Preferably, that route should be State & Union without bus only lanes.

Just about anything similar South of that area will be detrimental to the downtown business and residential environment, as well as finally any of the potential left in the skyway system.
"A man who views the world the same at 50 as he did at 20 has wasted 30 years of his life.” - Muhammad Ali

Ocklawaha

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Re: BRT Meeting Held at City Hall
« Reply #14 on: August 06, 2007, 10:52:06 AM »
Sorry, Lake, didn't mean to imply that you wanted to quit this fight. Just don't want anyone else to get so frustrated they sit back and say the good ol' USN/USMC phrase "BOHIKA" (bend over here it comes again!).
You and I refuse to bend on this. Yes, it is true, there ARE benefits to moving buses onto dedicated lanes, HOV lanes or onto a transit-way. But with our small system (for a major city) and our long headway's, we don't have ANY need of a bus freeway.

Didn't you think it odd too that when Glorious brought out the fact that there is little service in the NW Jax community, Mike jumped and said "50% of our ridership is in NW Jax..." Well if that is 50% of the ridership then where is the BRT system? "0%" serves NW Jax, in fact he said they'll replace the regular buses with little shuttles to move the peasantry (my words) from NW to the BRT at Gateway or TC? This is BS. What about fare increases? Another item we didn't jump on, but consider if we had a dedicated Transit Agency with a dedicated local funding source, we could go fare-free or to 25 cent fares across the system. If a 46 passenger bus is operating with 5 passengers, at $2.00 each, it's easy to do the math and figure how to fill the other seats. JTA seems to feel buses are only for the poor, yet they want to be very selective on which poor they take for a ride.

We just have to stop this before they take us all for a ride!


Ocklawaha