Author Topic: Is U2C serious? Help me make it make sense....  (Read 123468 times)

Jason

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Re: Is U2C serious? Help me make it make sense....
« Reply #240 on: February 20, 2023, 11:29:42 AM »
Hmm. Time is ticking. We're almost to March 2023 and we're not close to being ready to break ground. Reading that Action News article, I get the impression that this experiment won't be ready to go in 2025. The timeline will be pushed back again. Landing an AV factory sounds like a dream as well.


Dug a little further and found out that there’s a reason this article only mentions one shuttle they’re talking about the factory for: there’s another shuttle that Beep (the operations contractor) is working with that has already announced that they intend to operate in Jacksonville, but Jacksonville already lost the chance to get the factory. That shuttle, the Holon, is being built in Michigan where they can take advantage of the existing automotive supply chain. Notably, even with the location having already been selected, they don’t expect to produce vehicles until…2025.




I can't say much about the U2C vehicles, but the O&M facility is being budgeted and designs are mostly complete.  The facility is proposed for the little block bound by Water/Jefferson/Bay/Broad.  It'll be built under the skyway tracks.

https://www.google.com/maps/place/Park+n'+Ride/@30.327044,-81.6658873,143m/data=!3m1!1e3!4m6!3m5!1s0x88e5b7145dd66a93:0x915cb4abc45e6956!8m2!3d30.3270314!4d-81.6661668!16s%2Fg%2F11hblng84s?hl=en


jaxlongtimer

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Re: Is U2C serious? Help me make it make sense....
« Reply #241 on: February 20, 2023, 11:36:29 AM »

By the time JTA figures out AV's, their plan could be obsolete.  Consider this concept that uses a "train" on a virtual track on conventional roads with prioritized travel.  It cost a fraction of light rail or other options to implement and is currently in use in three Chinese cites with Australia next in line to use it.  Be sure to watch the video to see it in action.

I saw this earlier today, and I'm pretty sure this has come up on here and other places a few times in recent years.

As interesting a concept as it is, there are multiple reasons not to use it. For one, a known problem with these is their weight, and using them over and over again (like rapid transit) on a road ends up causing big grooves that you then need to repair, or completely replace the road surface with a stronger material which increases costs. Then there's the manufacturer, CRRC; due to policies and regulations implemented by both Presidents Trump and Biden, that company can't build any new… anything in the US. Rather importantly, the ART still ends up requiring a driver to oversee things on board, so you don't actually gain the benefit of autonomous operation. Any useful operation of these requires dedicated lanes that cars can't use, which eliminates the benefit of mixed traffic operation you'd get with buses or (theoretically) other AVs.

There's a reason that despite this concept supposedly being so amazing, it's only in three Chinese cities and purportedly in the works for Australia. In the end, the goal should be providing useful and effective mass transit, not trying to jump on the next eureka grenade of an idea. We've already gone down that road.

The appeal is this has significant advantages over light rail, both for costs, speed of implementation and flexibility.  It is probably a given that the road bed needs to be specially laid and that it will use a travel lane (possibly replacing a parking lane in some cities), based on watching the video.  But, as it notes, light rail is much more disruptive, aside from its other limitations. 

JTA's AV's are not truly autonomous, nor is any other vehicle truly so.  So, having a driver/attendant for this is a wash with any other solution. 

And, I doubt only the Chinese can make these things.  If there is demand for this solution, I am sure others will enter the field in North America, Europe or Asia.  If you watch the video, this solution is also being advocated for parts of NYC, such as Brooklyn.

One thing is for sure, JTA's plan is far less viable and possibly more expensive when it is all said and done.  JTA is not doing light rail, autonomous anything, a bus or train, etc.  and it won't carry many passengers or operate at a decent speed.  It's just wasteful mush.

Jax_Developer

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Re: Is U2C serious? Help me make it make sense....
« Reply #242 on: February 20, 2023, 11:47:23 AM »
IDK about cost & timeline. The R&D needed to complete AV's is still likely hundreds of billions. The consumer will pay for it on the purchase. Not to mention the timeline is 5 years out or more. The opportunity cost is piling up.

marcuscnelson

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Re: Is U2C serious? Help me make it make sense....
« Reply #243 on: February 21, 2023, 12:35:04 PM »

By the time JTA figures out AV's, their plan could be obsolete.  Consider this concept that uses a "train" on a virtual track on conventional roads with prioritized travel.  It cost a fraction of light rail or other options to implement and is currently in use in three Chinese cites with Australia next in line to use it.  Be sure to watch the video to see it in action.

I saw this earlier today, and I'm pretty sure this has come up on here and other places a few times in recent years.

As interesting a concept as it is, there are multiple reasons not to use it. For one, a known problem with these is their weight, and using them over and over again (like rapid transit) on a road ends up causing big grooves that you then need to repair, or completely replace the road surface with a stronger material which increases costs. Then there's the manufacturer, CRRC; due to policies and regulations implemented by both Presidents Trump and Biden, that company can't build any new… anything in the US. Rather importantly, the ART still ends up requiring a driver to oversee things on board, so you don't actually gain the benefit of autonomous operation. Any useful operation of these requires dedicated lanes that cars can't use, which eliminates the benefit of mixed traffic operation you'd get with buses or (theoretically) other AVs.

There's a reason that despite this concept supposedly being so amazing, it's only in three Chinese cities and purportedly in the works for Australia. In the end, the goal should be providing useful and effective mass transit, not trying to jump on the next eureka grenade of an idea. We've already gone down that road.

The appeal is this has significant advantages over light rail, both for costs, speed of implementation and flexibility.  It is probably a given that the road bed needs to be specially laid and that it will use a travel lane (possibly replacing a parking lane in some cities), based on watching the video.  But, as it notes, light rail is much more disruptive, aside from its other limitations. 

JTA's AV's are not truly autonomous, nor is any other vehicle truly so.  So, having a driver/attendant for this is a wash with any other solution. 

And, I doubt only the Chinese can make these things.  If there is demand for this solution, I am sure others will enter the field in North America, Europe or Asia.  If you watch the video, this solution is also being advocated for parts of NYC, such as Brooklyn.

One thing is for sure, JTA's plan is far less viable and possibly more expensive when it is all said and done.  JTA is not doing light rail, autonomous anything, a bus or train, etc.  and it won't carry many passengers or operate at a decent speed.  It's just wasteful mush.

A lot of the "advantages" are quite overstated. It's only cheaper to build if you don't have to rebuild the road, which you almost certainly will need to to address damage. If you need dedicated ROW then that's at best having to haggle for the right to take that space, at worst having to buy and then build new guideway. It's not any faster to build once you're committing to rebuilding the running surface, and in most cases the bulk of developing a transit project is the planning/development process and then station construction, not guideway construction (this changes depending on the length of the project). By the time you've done all this you don't actually eliminate much of any disruption compared to light rail other than not having overhead wires, which is silly when you're running this on a fixed guideway anyway where wires are perfect.

You are right that other countries have tried this. France in particular has made multiple attempts on this exact kind of project, including one system with the exact same optical guideway as the CRRC project. Almost all are being replaced by either standard buses or standard light rail. Brooklyn of all places is far too much dense to make street-running light rail a sensible solution compared to developing an actual heavy transit line like the rest of the subway system, or at least a fully dedicated ROW light rail if it must come to that, like the Interborough Express will be.

But yes, JTA's plan is both painfully reliant on unproven technology and waving a white flag to any sense of optimism towards increased demand for mass transit. We've known for decades that the hypothetical capacity of many smaller vehicles is lower in practice than larger vehicles (even if you run them at the same frequencies), and trying to pass 12 or even 20-passenger pods off as a mass transit system is an exercise in credulity. Nonetheless, here we are.
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: Is U2C serious? Help me make it make sense....
« Reply #244 on: March 21, 2023, 01:20:48 AM »
Random late-night thought:

The $246 million City Council approved for the Skyway conversion was almost two years ago now. Given inflation that's… probably not sufficient anymore, right?

Just running the number through Inflation Calculator puts the current equivalent at $274 million. Is there nearly $30 million sitting around somewhere for JTA to transfer to this project?
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

Jax_Developer

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Re: Is U2C serious? Help me make it make sense....
« Reply #245 on: March 22, 2023, 10:39:49 AM »
Random late-night thought:

The $246 million City Council approved for the Skyway conversion was almost two years ago now. Given inflation that's… probably not sufficient anymore, right?

Just running the number through Inflation Calculator puts the current equivalent at $274 million. Is there nearly $30 million sitting around somewhere for JTA to transfer to this project?


Right.. this is one of the things in my head too. Started with $400M in like 2018-2019, now were at $2xxM in 2023.. I wouldn't bat an eye hearing this project is underfunded. Plus.. how much $$ has been spent trying to make this thing happen over the years? That number has to be pushing 8-figures by now.

tufsu1

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Re: Is U2C serious? Help me make it make sense....
« Reply #246 on: March 22, 2023, 02:19:11 PM »
^ If the project is viable, then JTA could and should get $ from FDOT and FTA. Typically local share of transit projects is 25-50%. That was our argument during the gas tax discussion....as to how local money could be reallocated from U2C to Emerald Trail.

marcuscnelson

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Re: Is U2C serious? Help me make it make sense....
« Reply #247 on: March 22, 2023, 02:49:04 PM »
^ If the project is viable, then JTA could and should get $ from FDOT and FTA. Typically local share of transit projects is 25-50%. That was our argument during the gas tax discussion....as to how local money could be reallocated from U2C to Emerald Trail.

The problem, if I recall correctly, is that it's unclear whether the FTA would support providing funds for such a conversion. Miami received a small grant for their Metromover system upgrade, but still had to pay for most of that locally.

And then the other side of the problem is that if the conversion is not viable they then still need to spend local money propping up the existing system for its remaining lifespan. There's not a scenario in which they don't have to spend money.

The extensions were where funds were moved from the U2C to Emerald Trail, and they did receive at least a small planning grant from the FTA to continue studying that.

Random late-night thought:

The $246 million City Council approved for the Skyway conversion was almost two years ago now. Given inflation that's… probably not sufficient anymore, right?

Just running the number through Inflation Calculator puts the current equivalent at $274 million. Is there nearly $30 million sitting around somewhere for JTA to transfer to this project?


Right.. this is one of the things in my head too. Started with $400M in like 2018-2019, now were at $2xxM in 2023.. I wouldn't bat an eye hearing this project is underfunded. Plus.. how much $$ has been spent trying to make this thing happen over the years? That number has to be pushing 8-figures by now.

The project was priced at $300 million before 2020, then $430 million for the full system in 2021, and now Phase 1 has reportedly climbed to $60 million and it's unclear if the $250 million is enough.

As far as cumulative expenses, I have no idea if JTA has done the math, but between the original Skyway modernization studies, the Test & Learn program, standing up the Automation & Innovation division, the RFP work, the contracts paid for design and grant writing and so on, I could definitely see it somewhere in the tens of millions.
« Last Edit: March 22, 2023, 02:51:49 PM by marcuscnelson »
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 #248 on: March 22, 2023, 03:01:09 PM »
^ Hoping when a new mayor and council see all the demands for City dollars for deferred projects, they revisit the allocation to JTA for this project and kill it.  Maybe Cumber will support Deegan if she agrees to same :).

marcuscnelson

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Re: Is U2C serious? Help me make it make sense....
« Reply #249 on: March 22, 2023, 03:14:03 PM »
^ Hoping when a new mayor and council see all the demands for City dollars for deferred projects, they revisit the allocation to JTA for this project and kill it.  Maybe Cumber will support Deegan if she agrees to same :).

I mean it's gas tax funds, so it'd still have to go to transportation projects, not just any deferred thing. But it does seem long past time to give this project a serious contextual look.
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

jaxoNOLE

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Re: Is U2C serious? Help me make it make sense....
« Reply #250 on: March 22, 2023, 03:16:48 PM »
^ If the project is viable [...]

A massive caveat at this stage in the project and the lifecycle of AVs in general. After years of R&D, test & learn, we're bidding out design/build contracts to let the contractors figure out the implementation. Companies with billions invested are pumping the brakes on their programs and starting to downplay expectations.

, then JTA could and should get $ from FDOT and FTA. Typically local share of transit projects is 25-50%. That was our argument during the gas tax discussion....as to how local money could be reallocated from U2C to Emerald Trail.

I wonder -- would federal funding really be a good thing? If it's a "no strings attached" grant, that's one thing. But taking federal money to fund an experimental mass transit technology in downtown partially created the problem we have now. If we accept federal dollars, any subsequent cost overruns or implementation issues with the technology will be met with the same arguments we've heard over the Skyway: "Well, we just have to keep going, because we don't want to pay back $XX million, and by the way, we'll never get a red cent of federal funding ever again."

What if, against all odds, Jacksonville one day realizes the full potential of downtown, and we find ourselves in need of a true high-capacity urban circulator? Will we be saddled with this AV system under the terms of grant funding?

jaxoNOLE

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Re: Is U2C serious? Help me make it make sense....
« Reply #251 on: March 22, 2023, 03:23:30 PM »
^ Hoping when a new mayor and council see all the demands for City dollars for deferred projects, they revisit the allocation to JTA for this project and kill it.  Maybe Cumber will support Deegan if she agrees to same :).

I mean it's gas tax funds, so it'd still have to go to transportation projects, not just any deferred thing. But it does seem long past time to give this project a serious contextual look.

Even if they don't change the allocation to JTA for the gas tax money, Council could still change the project list for JTA via simple legislation, correct? Amtrak downtown, commuter rail, complete streets projects, maintaining the Skyway, etc. -- I don't think we're starved for ideas within JTA's purview that could be a better use of those funds without renegotiating the whole revenue split.

marcuscnelson

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Re: Is U2C serious? Help me make it make sense....
« Reply #252 on: March 22, 2023, 03:36:30 PM »
^ Hoping when a new mayor and council see all the demands for City dollars for deferred projects, they revisit the allocation to JTA for this project and kill it.  Maybe Cumber will support Deegan if she agrees to same :).

I mean it's gas tax funds, so it'd still have to go to transportation projects, not just any deferred thing. But it does seem long past time to give this project a serious contextual look.

Even if they don't change the allocation to JTA for the gas tax money, Council could still change the project list for JTA via simple legislation, correct? Amtrak downtown, commuter rail, complete streets projects, maintaining the Skyway, etc. -- I don't think we're starved for ideas within JTA's purview that could be a better use of those funds without renegotiating the whole revenue split.

Yes. There are already quite a few complete streets projects under the gas tax as it stands, but you could absolutely cut down the Skyway project to a perhaps ~$60 million rehabilitation program and then put serious money into getting commuter rail shovel-ready (if not built) and finally relocating Amtrak downtown. I proposed something along those lines two years ago.
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

Jax_Developer

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Re: Is U2C serious? Help me make it make sense....
« Reply #253 on: March 22, 2023, 04:04:27 PM »
^ Hoping when a new mayor and council see all the demands for City dollars for deferred projects, they revisit the allocation to JTA for this project and kill it.  Maybe Cumber will support Deegan if she agrees to same :).

I mean it's gas tax funds, so it'd still have to go to transportation projects, not just any deferred thing. But it does seem long past time to give this project a serious contextual look.

Even if they don't change the allocation to JTA for the gas tax money, Council could still change the project list for JTA via simple legislation, correct? Amtrak downtown, commuter rail, complete streets projects, maintaining the Skyway, etc. -- I don't think we're starved for ideas within JTA's purview that could be a better use of those funds without renegotiating the whole revenue split.

Yes. There are already quite a few complete streets projects under the gas tax as it stands, but you could absolutely cut down the Skyway project to a perhaps ~$60 million rehabilitation program and then put serious money into getting commuter rail shovel-ready (if not built) and finally relocating Amtrak downtown. I proposed something along those lines two years ago.

Stop making too much sense. It hurts my eyes. LOL

jaxlongtimer

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Re: Is U2C serious? Help me make it make sense....
« Reply #254 on: March 22, 2023, 10:55:13 PM »
^ I might add money is fungible.  If the gas tax dollars were used to pay for "transportation projects" that are already being funded by the City budget, that would free up City budget money for other needs in the City.

Is it a "transportation project" to maintain, clean and repave City streets?  Can some dollars be used to reduce any City subsidies for the Skyway, bus system, Mayport ferry, river taxi, etc.?  Could some dollars be used to complete the full Emerald Trail (a pedestrian and bike transit project) instead of using dollars from the City budget?  Or used to pay for buses used during Jaguar games?  Toward improving the cruise terminal, a boat ramp, electric vehicle stations, the Downtown scooters?  Converting Downtown streets into two ways, increasing the number of road diets, landscaping roadways, adding or repairing sidewalks, installing intelligent transportation systems or adding roundabouts in the City?  Being used as the City match for transportation grants from the State or Feds?  Basically, how much could be used to fund much of the Public Works budget for awhile?

All the mayoral candidates talked about investing in infrastructure... here is a nice chunk of change to get that going.