Author Topic: Is U2C serious? Help me make it make sense....  (Read 130215 times)

marcuscnelson

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Re: Is U2C serious? Help me make it make sense....
« Reply #360 on: July 13, 2023, 12:00:27 PM »
^Reported on yesterday, Steve. You should be able to see that discussion above.

From my understanding, JTA is well represented on the infrastructure committees. I'm sure they are lobbying for more power and support for their initiatives.

I'm sure of it. Doesn't entitle them to no dissent, of course.


I just don't think the fire is there for there to be a JEA-esque scandal here. This has certainly been poor management in my opinion, but I wouldn't say it rises to the level of fraud that happened at JEA.


I would argue, in a more loose interpretation of fraud, that there has been fraud and shady dealings behind the scenes. I don't mean to come across in such a harsh manner, but I grew up with the high hopes that AV's bring so I get it. There are very public figures, like Elon Musk, that have gone into immense details on his struggles, literally inviting someone to figure it out for "humanity." Yet, here we are several years later with really not a ton progress since 2018 ish with AV technology... a trillion dollar company having issues achieving that last hurdle.. hmmmmmmm. The technologies being used for AV have been on the market for decades.. it's making it all come together at nearly 100% efficiency which has proven to be super complex.

How I'll connect this to a loose interpretation of fraud is how they have wasted time, energy and a ton of money pursuing something they have zero knowledge in. I know we have transportation planners here, and I honestly could look any of you in the eye and strongly argue that your background gives you almost 0 relevant knowledge to tackle AV's other than the transit elements involved. Why has JTA not put a single ounce of effort towards bringing in an actual expert? It just doesn't make any sense.. no AV experts, no image sensing experts.. nah just lawyers, bankers, and transit planners.

JTA knows that their solution, is actually not a solution deep down. They know.. Nat Ford's entire career is riding on this. Maybe not a JEA-level scandal, but I'd argue that there are messages hidden out there that incriminate the executive leadership poorly. Again, how can you be spending hundreds of millions of dollars on a project without a single person that has a technical background? That's like spending hundreds of millions on new park space without a civil or landscape architect consulting on it.. I've NEVER seen that in my world, and to me that amounts to fraud, to a lesser degree.

Fraud: "a person or thing intended to deceive others, typically by unjustifiably claiming or being credited with accomplishments or qualities"

That last part sure does remind me of JTA's leadership.

That's an interesting way to interpret the idea of fraud. My guess is that they'd point to engineers within the Beatty V2R consortium as providing that background, but you make a valid point that they fundamentally do not have the expertise required to make this work. Technically, no one does. It's been said for years now, as you mention, that the public and private sector has spent billions of dollars (and the little National AV Day site says decades of work) for something that doesn't actually work yet.
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 #361 on: July 13, 2023, 12:27:15 PM »
From my understanding, JTA is well represented on the infrastructure committees. I'm sure they are lobbying for more power and support for their initiatives.

I can't find a list of the Infrastructure Committee or Transportation Subcommittee members on the COJ website. Just that Garrett Dennis is the Infrastructure Committee.

Jax_Developer

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Re: Is U2C serious? Help me make it make sense....
« Reply #362 on: July 13, 2023, 12:45:49 PM »
@Marcus, I think you are right in that they are probably leaning on Beatty on the technology side. Issue is, they are not a tech company. Second off, almost any $100M+ project has consultants on both sides that essentially keep each other in check. I know we don't have that going on lol. I feel like that amounts to fraud.. what makes the existing staff now qualified to handle technical conversations on behalf of a city? Literally nothing and their resumes prove that. To me, that is $100M+ of improperly used funds. (Also a gas tax while we are at it.) They need to hire someone that actually knows whats going on with AV's, and inform them that their project timelines are off by a decade or so haha.

thelakelander

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Re: Is U2C serious? Help me make it make sense....
« Reply #363 on: July 13, 2023, 01:15:07 PM »
Its a good time for him to jump off the U2C ship. It's eventually going to sink. No reason going down with the Titantic when there are life preservers and rafts still available.
"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 #364 on: July 13, 2023, 01:30:07 PM »
If only there was room for the rest of us.
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

fsu813

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Re: Is U2C serious? Help me make it make sense....
« Reply #365 on: July 14, 2023, 12:16:18 PM »
Welp.

“Tech billionaires don’t have a great track record when it comes to fixing our transportation system—but we keep giving them 2nd chances. For 15 years, we’ve waited for Silicon Valley to solve the problems on our roads and it’s continually failed to deliver. Instead, tech companies have kept us trapped in our cars by distracting us from investments in improved transit & other transport options.”

https://newrepublic.com/article/174089/big-tech-watching-drive

Jax_Developer

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Re: Is U2C serious? Help me make it make sense....
« Reply #366 on: July 14, 2023, 01:02:57 PM »
If a trillion dollar company can't do it, the City of Jacksonville will!

marcuscnelson

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Re: Is U2C serious? Help me make it make sense....
« Reply #367 on: July 15, 2023, 02:31:06 PM »
Watching the WJXT noon news and a promo for JTA's periodic "Making Moves" program came on - they will be highlighting their recent "AV Day" - WJXT at 12:30 PM today (Wednesday, 7/12).

It's now on YouTube.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BD_R6ClR008

Also includes some coverage of the Northwest Jacksonville improvements funded by the gas tax increase.

Personally, I'm inclined to say that they shouldn't do much beyond normal improvements like shelters, trash cans, bike racks, and instead spend more of that money on running those buses more frequently.
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 #368 on: July 21, 2023, 05:05:18 PM »
Random thought I've perhaps had before but not articulated, especially in the wake of Schmidt's departure.

JTA is seemingly about to embark on a campaign to request a Buy America Act waiver from the FTA for autonomous shuttles because none of the ones presently being hoped for are built in the US, or appear to plan to have US factories open in time for vehicle procurement.

However, there is a vehicle that JTA has had extensive time to test and learn from, and that maintenance crews have deep expertise working with, that is built in America: The Gillig Low-Floor bus.

Most of the shuttles JTA has been testing for some time now are just various vehicles, such as a small 6-seat cart or the EV Star van, that have a "kit" from Perrone Robotics strapped onto it. Despite that, these vehicles for the foreseeable future are going to require an "attendant" who has to know how to drive the vehicle anyway.

So I don't understand why JTA doesn't simply take a 29-foot Gillig bus (you can even get them as an EV!), strap a Perrone Robotics kit onto it, have the attendant sit in the drivers seat, and let everyone move on with their lives. They can call it an autonomous vehicle, it'd have more capacity, more doors, it's smaller than a 40-foot bus, it's ADA compliant, they can build it a lot sooner than 2025, everyone's happy.

I even went and checked whether the Gillig's turning radius is less than the Skyway's (it is, page 22), and weighs less (it does, but the EV version might be heavier, although probably not heavier than the 3-car Skyway train). If the RTA of Dayton, Ohio can get Gillig to collaborate with Kiepe Electric to build a Gillig Trolleybus, surely JTA can have them cooperate with Perrone to build what is essentially their own version of something New Flyer already builds.

The only reasons I can think of to not do it like that are the ideological reasons Nat Ford suggested two years ago, that they simply don't like the idea of running a full-sized city bus when the dream of flexible small vehicles seems so attainable. Except obviously that isn't true, any more true than it was two years ago. Even if one were to argue that you'd have to turn around the vehicle if there was ever an expansion onto the Skyway infrastructure, that's something that'd have to be done anyway because many of the existing shuttles only have controls or doors on one side.
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 #369 on: July 21, 2023, 07:18:34 PM »
What happened to all the talk about getting an AV manufacturer to locate to town? Was it simply hot air to stay relevant in the local media?
"A man who views the world the same at 50 as he did at 20 has wasted 30 years of his life.” - Muhammad Ali

Jax_Developer

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Re: Is U2C serious? Help me make it make sense....
« Reply #370 on: July 21, 2023, 09:30:00 PM »
^^ Not sure if you are being sarcastic, so sorry if I missed that but there is zero reason for an AV manufacturer to move to Jacksonville. JTA can't procure enough units attract an AV business. Plus the technology & manufacturing hubs are elsewhere. It's a bunch of hot air!

Also people wonder why there isn't a US manufacturer, well that's because there is so little demand for the product.. I still can't think of a single real benefit of this transit option other than complete door to door flexibility.. Which is unrealistic over the long run if you ask me.

jaxlongtimer

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Re: Is U2C serious? Help me make it make sense....
« Reply #371 on: July 24, 2023, 02:53:31 PM »
Li'l 'ol St. Augustine running circles around JTA and DIA.  A free circulator, every 15 minutes through downtown.  Paid for by FDOT for at least 3 years.  No fuss, no muss.  Just getting it done, and done right. 

Nothing like this even discussed in Jax.  We are blowing our grant dollars on a boondoggle that does nothing for anybody but JTA employees, consultants and manufacturers (attempting to) implementing the project.

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New circulator service a step forward in St. Augustine's mobility strategy

Asking St. Augustine Mayor Nancy Sikes-Kline how long the city has been working to establish a downtown circulator service is asking her to strain her memory.

The free shuttle service has been a component of the city's mobility strategy for years, and it even came to fruition for a short stint more than 15 years ago.

But with the help of the Florida Department of Transportation, the STAR downtown circulator has become a reality as part of the city's overall mobility strategy to make the busiest areas more accessible and less congested with vehicles....

....The STAR buses started taking passengers on the 1.1-mile route more than a week ago, but city officials had a ceremony for the start of service on Friday morning.

There are two buses that operate from the Visitor Information Center near the parking garage and stop at Avenida Menendez near the Castillo de San Marcos and again at Cathedral Place, then back to the VIC. The shuttles will operate from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. seven days a week — with slight alterations around special events. The shuttles run about every 15 minutes....

.....The city has contracted with Old Town Trolley Tours to operate the new service, but it is completely separate from the ticketed tour service it offers that goes all over the city.

Sikes-Kline said the business community has welcomed the circulator service and hopes that it gets visitors to explore more parts of the city, knowing they don't have to walk the entire journey.

"If you’re beginning your trip at the garage, then it’s giving you the opportunity to feel rested enough ... to get to the Plaza and venture deeper into the city because there’s so much to offer there, too," she said, adding that people parked near Cathedral Place can ride the other direction and visit Uptown San Marco businesses.

Although the current FDOT grant will pay for three years of the bus service, city officials are hopeful that funding will be extended....

https://www.bizjournals.com/jacksonville/news/2023/07/21/new-circulator-service.html?utm_source=st&utm_medium=en&utm_campaign=me&utm_content=JA&ana=e_JA_me&j=32171214&senddate=2023-07-24

marcuscnelson

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Re: Is U2C serious? Help me make it make sense....
« Reply #372 on: July 24, 2023, 03:35:43 PM »
I mean, STAR is certainly better than nothing but I think comparing it to Jacksonville as an advantage is missing the point somewhat. The Skyway (which is also free) runs longer and more frequently each day, even if it only runs 5 days a week (and during special events), while also being more than twice the distance and including a river crossing. There's a reason people endorsed "Keep, Modernize, and Expand" back in 2015.

Not to mention that St. Augustine recently also received a federal grant (from the same program JTA took advantage of) to add "smart technologies" that the TPO has expressly stated is part of future accommodations for autonomous vehicles. From reading their Mobility Plan the real goal is to eventually build a gondola system between West King and east of the Bridge of Lions, with autonomous circulators replacing the shuttle buses.

Also, if I recall correctly, JTA was running trolleys around Downtown and Riverside and the beaches for years already at one point, although I'm not sure those are still operating. Doesn't make the U2C a good idea but it doesn't mean STAR is some brilliant move no one's ever thought of before. I wonder what the odds are that St. Augustine is actually going to take real steps to encourage people to ride it instead of continuing to drive into and around the city.
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 #373 on: July 24, 2023, 04:43:24 PM »
At one time, JTA had three downtown shuttle-bus (and later "trolley" - still buses, but looked like trolleys) routes. They connected the core - what was then Hemming Park - to (initially) parking lots on Liberty at State/Union, the Southbank, and 5-Points. They were intended as precursors to the Skyway. As I recall, they had a nominal fare (25 cents) when the regular bus fare was 60 cents. At one point, they extended the Southbank service to the San Marco shopping area, but could not maintain a schedule due to the RR crossings.

jaxlongtimer

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Re: Is U2C serious? Help me make it make sense....
« Reply #374 on: July 24, 2023, 05:18:06 PM »
I mean, STAR is certainly better than nothing but I think comparing it to Jacksonville as an advantage is missing the point somewhat. The Skyway (which is also free) runs longer and more frequently each day, even if it only runs 5 days a week (and during special events), while also being more than twice the distance and including a river crossing. There's a reason people endorsed "Keep, Modernize, and Expand" back in 2015.[

Not to mention that St. Augustine recently also received a federal grant (from the same program JTA took advantage of) to add "smart technologies" that the TPO has expressly stated is part of future accommodations for autonomous vehicles. From reading their Mobility Plan the real goal is to eventually build a gondola system between West King and east of the Bridge of Lions, with autonomous circulators replacing the shuttle buses.

I was focusing on the simple concept of having a reliable, effective, low cost/free, circulator running every day and evenings with frequent headways, and that might be paid by others than the City.   I don't consider the coverage area of the Skyway complete enough, either, and not running it on weekends and evenings is another shortcoming for invigorating Downtown.  So, I don't equate this with the Skyway, a fixed path system, especially for the dollars it requires.  The interest on the Skyway/AV system investment would likely pay to operate buses at ground for free.  The complicated Skyway/AV is also likely years from being a reliable operating system as currently envisioned, if it ever works, another risk to getting something worthwhile done sooner than later.  Buses could start "tomorrow."

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Also, if I recall correctly, JTA was running trolleys around Downtown and Riverside and the beaches for years already at one point, although I'm not sure those are still operating. Doesn't make the U2C a good idea but it doesn't mean STAR is some brilliant move no one's ever thought of before. I wonder what the odds are that St. Augustine is actually going to take real steps to encourage people to ride it instead of continuing to drive into and around the city.

At one time, JTA had three downtown shuttle-bus (and later "trolley" - still buses, but looked like trolleys) routes. They connected the core - what was then Hemming Park - to (initially) parking lots on Liberty at State/Union, the Southbank, and 5-Points. They were intended as precursors to the Skyway. As I recall, they had a nominal fare (25 cents) when the regular bus fare was 60 cents. At one point, they extended the Southbank service to the San Marco shopping area, but could not maintain a schedule due to the RR crossings.

The "trolleys" I recall were not before the Skyway, but long after it came in service.  My memory is that JTA ran them for free for awhile and then began charging a $1 or so for them.  When ridership, predictably, dropped off, JTA ended the service.  Also, the routes were not ideal, and maybe neither the hours and headways, and JTA didn't do anything much to promote them or work with Downtown interests to integrate them more into promoting Downtown.  It also takes coordination and promotion with stop locations (i.e. giving people a reason to ride) and time to build a following, none of which JTA excels at.

Overall, my ultimate beef is we are being led by the "gang that couldn't shoot straight."  At some point, something simple, tried and true by numerous others and less expensive is superior to waiting forever for some "sexy" fix that costs a fortune and is not likely to ever deliver on the promises made.
« Last Edit: July 24, 2023, 06:39:40 PM by jaxlongtimer »