Author Topic: Is U2C serious? Help me make it make sense....  (Read 136621 times)

thelakelander

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Re: Is U2C serious? Help me make it make sense....
« Reply #495 on: May 30, 2024, 08:25:40 PM »
While I'm not a fan of the misguided promotion of the U2C and wasteful spending by JTA, I believe this project has demonstrated that we have the financial resources locally to do real transformative mass transit projects. Years ago, JTA used lack of funding as an excuse to not invest in any form of rail-based transit. This region went as far to set up a regional transportation commission with representatives of multiple counties to see if taxes should be raised for true multimodal solutions. I was one of two appointed members of that commission that represented Duval County. Now we've come full circle by having JTA try to force feed a highly questionable, low capacity project down the community's throat, that will have to funded by local dollars (since the feds and state are clearly not believers enough to put their money where their mouth is). I'm excited to see what we can actually get off the ground once the U2C goes belly up.

I certainly hope this is true. I can't help but worry that once the dust has settled from the collapse of this project and the money has been wasted, there might not still be the local wherewithal or broader political support to turn around and invest in effective transit. We don't know what the federal attitude for transit funding will be once this infrastructure bill has ended. We don't know who will be Mayor, whether that's Deegan or someone else, and the resulting relationship with City Council. We don't know what solution will be decided on to replace the gas tax, and what our ability to invest that funding into mass transit will be. We don't know who will end up in charge of JTA (assuming that there is a clearly necessary shakeup) and their attitudes towards rail (seeing as we're 0/2 since the turn of the century and Ford was the most likely to be pro-rail of the candidates). All of those questions will color how we can build a real transit system, assuming we try to at all.

This isn't to say there's no way out, just that it's hard right now to see us being ready and able to finally pick something that works only after blowing millions on something that clearly wouldn't. Looking at the livestream of today's State of the Authority, I'm still bewildered that we're even here in the first place.

I think its unrealistic to think they'd stop dab smack now or that the mayor would immediately step in a stop them, given her history with the project. This (the first phase) is going to have to play out. They are in too deep to admit defeat with it blowing up completely first.

We don't know a lot outside of Jax's control but I'm pretty confident about one thing. Either JTA shocks the world (i.e. the AV industry figures out what it has promised for years but has yet to achieve....very highly unlikely) or this thing blows up locally in 12-24 months with the outcome of the Bay Street Innovation project and its Ford vans.

At that point, they've blown what equates to the cost of a large highway overpass (i.e. $60ish million). Deegan is also in office, although gearing up for a re-election campaign. At this point, things are still pretty salvageable, as we've experimented with a first phase (which gives all the technology zealots an easy out). Now if we push past that and start blowing gas tax money, then I'd get worried.

In the meantime, keep the hits coming Action News Jax.
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jaxoNOLE

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Re: Is U2C serious? Help me make it make sense....
« Reply #496 on: May 30, 2024, 08:32:26 PM »
While I'm not a fan of the misguided promotion of the U2C and wasteful spending by JTA, I believe this project has demonstrated that we have the financial resources locally to do real transformative mass transit projects. Years ago, JTA used lack of funding as an excuse to not invest in any form of rail-based transit. This region went as far to set up a regional transportation commission with representatives of multiple counties to see if taxes should be raised for true multimodal solutions. I was one of two appointed members of that commission that represented Duval County. Now we've come full circle by having JTA try to force feed a highly questionable, low capacity project down the community's throat, that will have to funded by local dollars (since the feds and state are clearly not believers enough to put their money where their mouth is). I'm excited to see what we can actually get off the ground once the U2C goes belly up.

I certainly hope this is true. I can't help but worry that once the dust has settled from the collapse of this project and the money has been wasted, there might not still be the local wherewithal or broader political support to turn around and invest in effective transit. We don't know what the federal attitude for transit funding will be once this infrastructure bill has ended. We don't know who will be Mayor, whether that's Deegan or someone else, and the resulting relationship with City Council. We don't know what solution will be decided on to replace the gas tax, and what our ability to invest that funding into mass transit will be. We don't know who will end up in charge of JTA (assuming that there is a clearly necessary shakeup) and their attitudes towards rail (seeing as we're 0/2 since the turn of the century and Ford was the most likely to be pro-rail of the candidates). All of those questions will color how we can build a real transit system, assuming we try to at all.

This isn't to say there's no way out, just that it's hard right now to see us being ready and able to finally pick something that works only after blowing millions on something that clearly wouldn't. Looking at the livestream of today's State of the Authority, I'm still bewildered that we're even here in the first place.

^I share this concern as a taxpayer who has voted for the LOGT and the increases for DCPS. A big selling point of LOGT was it freeing up general fund dollars for sewer. We see how far that's gone.

DCPS is going to accomplish about a third of their promised scope of work with the sales tax money.

The city just resurfaced our street, then promptly tore a trench through it to "fix" a stormwater drain that's been a sinkhole for a year. And graded it improperly, so it's worse than before.

And of course we knew about U2C funding in the LOGT, but still--full speed ahead on that while the other projects under JTA's purview for that earmarked money barely move.

I'm thrilled about the Emerald Trail, but no, I do not trust the city as a steward of my tax dollars after witnessing the last several years. How can the city hope to marshal support for expensive transit given the history of the Skyway and U2C while buses can't run on time? I hope they can, but there's a lot of damage to repair.

thelakelander

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Re: Is U2C serious? Help me make it make sense....
« Reply #497 on: May 30, 2024, 08:33:06 PM »
Genuinely does read like parody.



LOL is this the speaker:

Quote
Oxford University professor Paul Newman, whose company, Oxa, makes the software for the Jacksonville Transportation Authority’s Ultimate Urban Connector automated people movers, speaks at the JTA’s State of the Authority event at the Prime Osborn III Convention Center on May 30.

I hope this luncheon was free. I'd love to see the percentage of transit riders and regular public in attendance verses JTA staff, people making money off JTA projects/studies and consultants hoping to get JTA work in the future.
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thelakelander

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Re: Is U2C serious? Help me make it make sense....
« Reply #498 on: May 30, 2024, 08:35:19 PM »
I'm thrilled about the Emerald Trail, but no, I do not trust the city as a steward of my tax dollars after witnessing the last several years. How can the city hope to marshal support for expensive transit given the history of the Skyway and U2C while buses can't run on time? I hope they can, but there's a lot of damage to repair.

To be honest with you, I'd be totally happy to have a reliable and efficient bus system before worrying about something like LRT. I don't trust that JTA is capable of running any form of rail-based transit. They would need a massive overhaul from top to bottom.
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jaxlongtimer

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Re: Is U2C serious? Help me make it make sense....
« Reply #499 on: May 30, 2024, 11:41:43 PM »
Quote
The U2C stands to similarly change the transportation ecosphere, Newman said, by providing data that can propel the development of self-driving vehicles.

In other words, JTA's U2C is a testing bed to be used by others to sort out IF AV's are feasible.  This is clearly a tacit admission that AV's are nowhere near ready for prime-time.  Absolutely nothing here about it providing a transportation value to taxpaying Jax citizens.

They are are very careful in offering high minded sound bites that are, no pun intended, just barks, not bites.

My opinion of Oxford University just dropped a few notches if this is the type of professor teaching its students.

thelakelander

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Re: Is U2C serious? Help me make it make sense....
« Reply #500 on: May 30, 2024, 11:49:13 PM »
There are already AV testing beds all across the country and in this state. JTA isn't doing anything that anyone else hasn't figured out. Nevertheless, I agree that others are watching. Train wrecks in the making tend to attract eyeballs.
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marcuscnelson

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Re: Is U2C serious? Help me make it make sense....
« Reply #501 on: May 31, 2024, 12:06:36 AM »
^ Nat Ford insists otherwise, from the State of the Authority today:

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Next year, Jacksonville will become the first city in the United States to deploy a true autonomous vehicle network for public transportation. This is not a pilot program folks, it will be a true public transportation service unlike anything ever developed.
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 #502 on: May 31, 2024, 12:20:47 AM »
^ Nat Ford insists otherwise, from the State of the Authority today:

Quote
Next year, Jacksonville will become the first city in the United States to deploy a true autonomous vehicle network for public transportation. This is not a pilot program folks, it will be a true public transportation service unlike anything ever developed.

Keying in on two wordings here:  "true autonomous vehicle" and "network." 

In my book, true AV means no human oversight/control/interventions required. 

Network means something more than just the Bay Street Corridor. 

This quote should be nailed up to all City Hall and JTA walls for a follow up at the end of 2025.  Either deliver on this quote or kill the project on 12/31/2025.

thelakelander

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Re: Is U2C serious? Help me make it make sense....
« Reply #503 on: May 31, 2024, 05:07:40 AM »
^ Nat Ford insists otherwise, from the State of the Authority today:

Quote
Next year, Jacksonville will become the first city in the United States to deploy a true autonomous vehicle network for public transportation. This is not a pilot program folks, it will be a true public transportation service unlike anything ever developed.

Mayor Lenny Curry promised that we would not recognize the downtown skyline by the time his term was up. He was right. He blew up the Landing, City Hall Annex, Berkman II's remains and a part of the Hart Bridge ramps. However, that's not what the average person was thinking when those words were said. Plus all of us (including Curry) thought downtown would be better off in 2024 than it was in 2014. Now, the average person knows that's not the case and a new administration is having to address the unfilled promises and fallout from those decisions.

Nat Ford is right. Jacksonville will become the first city in the US to deploy a true AV network for public transportation. He did not say we would be the first city in the US to deploy true AVs. That's been done many times over already. The technology is trash and dangerous, so we'll need a human driver (called an attendant....because that sounds much better than calling them a bus or van driver) in these expensive vehicles to drive them in mixed-traffic. So a guy driving a van in circles around downtown as a part of JTA's transit services is 100% doable. In fact, we did this already when the JTA trolley (PCT or Potato Chip Truck to Ocklawaha) used to run a downtown loop. Only difference is this time, the vehicles will be more expensive because they'll have AV technology).

Ford saying this is not a pilot program folks, is also true. JTA is spending nearly $70 million on this toy that will be driven by a human and be requesting the handful of people trying it out to pay for the priviledge. He also correct in the statement that it will be a true public transportation service unlike anything ever developed. Most communities would not have allowed this to get this far. However, we are the perfect testing ground for this experiement. After all, we went down this same road with the floating nuclear power plant idea back in the 1970s and the Skyway in the 1980s. Its in our genes to want to run and be the first, instead of simply investing in century old, but very practical solutions. Its a bad habit we're still struggling to break locally.

Anyway, this is also where the day of reckoning comes into play. The masses (who aren't transportation experts and have never seen this stuff in other cities) finally get to see a product that turned out to be significantly underwhelming in comparison to what has been sold to public and local taxpayer for years. Something crazy expensive, dump and carrying less than 250 people a day at a cost significantly higher than what Jax taxpayers invested in the Skyway (which was mostly funded with state and federal dollars).

The key in 2025 will be holding the people linked to it accountable for the turd that's coming. I believe we have to let this Bay Street thing play out because JTA is in too deep to stop now. People there will leave town before admitting defeat. Unfortunately, that does mean lighting $70 million (mostly Jax tax dollars) on fire. However, I also believe we have to hold everyone involved accountable when it is clear that the taxpayer has been sold a bill of goods and that our core public transportation needs have still not been met.
« Last Edit: May 31, 2024, 05:23:40 AM by thelakelander »
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thelakelander

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Re: Is U2C serious? Help me make it make sense....
« Reply #504 on: May 31, 2024, 05:26:37 AM »
This quote should be nailed up to all City Hall and JTA walls for a follow up at the end of 2025.  Either deliver on this quote or kill the project on 12/31/2025.

Lots of quotes from JTA over the last decade and Action News Jax's findings over the last few months should be nailed on the walls. This train wreck could be seen coming years ago, so don't let the people responsible for it sliver away when then the wheels fall off. They should enjoy the fruits of their labor if they can find the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow with this. They should also go down with the ship when it sinks.
"A man who views the world the same at 50 as he did at 20 has wasted 30 years of his life.” - Muhammad Ali

jaxoNOLE

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Re: Is U2C serious? Help me make it make sense....
« Reply #505 on: May 31, 2024, 10:39:00 AM »
I'm thrilled about the Emerald Trail, but no, I do not trust the city as a steward of my tax dollars after witnessing the last several years. How can the city hope to marshal support for expensive transit given the history of the Skyway and U2C while buses can't run on time? I hope they can, but there's a lot of damage to repair.

To be honest with you, I'd be totally happy to have a reliable and efficient bus system before worrying about something like LRT. I don't trust that JTA is capable of running any form of rail-based transit. They would need a massive overhaul from top to bottom.

I see it as similar to the sentiment re: downtown development when Deegan took office. Starting from a place of total ineptitude, the trust deficit with the public is a massive obstacle, but the silver lining is that small wins (like finishing Friendship Fountain, hitting deadlines for Riverfront Plaza, negotiating a stadium deal on schedule, etc.) feel bigger when the bar is so low and go a long way to demonstrating that, despite our past mistakes, we're headed in the right direction. I think we do need a long-term vision now for what those big transit projects might look like. A great example of this need could be the Regency Square Mall redevelopment. If that were to proceed without the city having an eye towards placing a transit hub there that can one day accommodate multimodal, we would be making a big mistake. We seem to be great at commissioning the studies that would contribute to developing this plan, but...never actually develop an actionable plan.

In the meantime, though, I absolutely agree. We have to maximize what we have and show we know how to run it effectively before dropping a billion dollars into LRT or commuter rail. It's one of the many reasons why the hubris of thinking JTA, of all transit agencies, could be the one to implement brand new and unproven technology like U2C is so ridiculous, when we sit here doubting their ability to pull off something with an established track record like rail (of any kind). Meanwhile, a bus ride from Arlington to Jax Beach takes between 90 and 120 minutes, IF the buses are running on time.

thelakelander

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Re: Is U2C serious? Help me make it make sense....
« Reply #506 on: May 31, 2024, 12:19:40 PM »
Luckily, we do generally know where potential transit spines should run. We've been planning them for more than 30 years now. The corridors will be where transit should run 30-50 years from now as well. We just have to be serious about investing to implement.
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marcuscnelson

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Re: Is U2C serious? Help me make it make sense....
« Reply #507 on: May 31, 2024, 01:07:53 PM »
JTA’s National Autonomous Vehicle Day event is happening again today. They’re streaming on YouTube:

Part 1 (Morning)
Part 2 (Afternoon)

I’ll transcribe some of Mr. Ford’s statements later. Emily Turner from Action News also attended, asking some questions of JTA executives as well as City Councilman Rahman Johnson, her questions can be seen on the stream here.
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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Ken_FSU

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Re: Is U2C serious? Help me make it make sense....
« Reply #509 on: May 31, 2024, 01:56:17 PM »
Since 2021, JTA is down almost 2 million riders, 14 million miles, and 7,000 service hours, and headways are over 17 minutes longer.

FDOT is estimating a mere 250 rides a day for the half billion dollar robovan service we're betting our "mass transit" future on.

If it wasn't so sad, it would all be quite funny:

Quote
Ford closed his address saying, “remember, transportation isn’t about the numbers. It’s about the people.”