Author Topic: Is U2C serious? Help me make it make sense....  (Read 136844 times)

thelakelander

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Re: Is U2C serious? Help me make it make sense....
« Reply #525 on: June 03, 2024, 11:06:23 AM »
The People Mover (original name of the Skyway) ridership projections in the 1970s and 80s were also based on "an influx of growth and development in Downtown Jacksonville."  Of course, we all know that growth did not happen. Quite the opposite.

Isn't the projected ridership only 250 people a day? This project isn't about serving a serious amount of transit users. Its about being the first to do something. Either they'll achieve that or it will be a disaster. Regardless of the innovation side, we still need something to better serve actual transit users in the city.
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Charles Hunter

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Re: Is U2C serious? Help me make it make sense....
« Reply #526 on: June 03, 2024, 11:12:35 AM »
The People Mover (original name of the Skyway) ridership projections in the 1970s and 80s were also based on "an influx of growth and development in Downtown Jacksonville."  Of course, we all know that growth did not happen. Quite the opposite.

Isn't the projected ridership only 250 people a day? This project isn't about serving a serious amount of transit users. Its about being the first to do something. Either they'll achieve that or it will be a disaster. Regardless of the innovation side, we still need something to better serve actual transit users in the city.

Is the '250 a day' projection JTA's, or was that FDOT's, that JTA contested?

jaxlongtimer

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Re: Is U2C serious? Help me make it make sense....
« Reply #527 on: June 03, 2024, 12:15:44 PM »
The People Mover (original name of the Skyway) ridership projections in the 1970s and 80s were also based on "an influx of growth and development in Downtown Jacksonville."  Of course, we all know that growth did not happen. Quite the opposite.
Pipe dreams then and pipe dreams now. 

Do you really think Four Seasons' guests, at around a $1,000/day stay are going to ride the U2C?  Is the U2C going to navigate Bay Street on game day any quicker than the rest of us resulting in headways of 20 or 30 minutes for vehicles carrying 10 to 20 passengers at a time?  And, if going to the new MOSH, were is the park and ride lot associated with the U2C that I have not heard any mention of to date?  By the way, I bet most of MOSH's attendance is school groups riding on school buses, not U2C.

And, who is going to drive into this area and take a slow moving vehicle the last 3 or 4 blocks to a destination?  I think JSO moving prisoners in and out of the jail might be their best customer  8).

Save the quotes from this event.  They will haunt JTA by this time next year.  Ford is already covering for delays and overruns when he says there is no template.  That excuse will be pulled out over and over for the next umpteen years.  The reason there is no template is this is unproven and unperfected technology and no one else is fool enough to try this at this scale and for this application at this point in time given that.  Only JTA is a sucker for this effort.

The cheerleading quotes are all reminiscent of the same mindset used to promote the original Skyway.  Naysayers then were all proven right regarding inflated ridership and cost projections and they will be proven right again today.  Just amazing we haven't learned any lessons.

And, based on letters Marcus posted previously, I strongly believe the Fed payback on the Skyway is a red herring and could go away by simply pushing for it, if it is even a real issue monetarily at this point. 

To sum it up, this is selling snake oil.

marcuscnelson

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Re: Is U2C serious? Help me make it make sense....
« Reply #528 on: June 03, 2024, 01:20:34 PM »
And, based on letters Marcus posted previously, I strongly believe the Fed payback on the Skyway is a red herring and could go away by simply pushing for it, if it is even a real issue monetarily at this point.

Personally, that isn’t really my takeaway from those letters. For context, the most recent letter (dated April 20, 2021) includes the following:

Quote
As with any other FTA-funded project, grant recipients assume certain obligations when
applying for and accepting Federal funding. Specifically, FTA funding recipients agree to
maintain continuing control of the use of project property and constructed improvements to the
extent satisfactory to FTA. The recipient agrees to use project property for appropriate project
purposes for the duration of the useful life of that property, as described in FTA’s Award
Management Requirements guidance (FTA C 5010.1E). Of particular relevance here, if a
recipient “fails to use its federally assisted property during the useful life of that property, the
recipient agrees that it may be required to return the entire amount of the federal assistance
expended on that property to FTA.”


FTA understands that JTA and local stakeholders are currently in discussions regarding the
continued use of the Skyway. As stated above, while these choices are ultimately local
decisions, FTA wants to ensure the decision is made with all the facts and in full recognition of
JTA’s past commitments. We look forward to our upcoming, regularly scheduled quarterly
meeting on April 27, 2021, when we can further discuss the contents of this letter.

This language does suggest to me that JTA are in fact under the constraints that have been expressed regarding the Skyway’s infrastructure. I am curious how the (presumably locally funded) “conversion” of the Skyway would impact that, but I suspect that because in theory it would retain an elevated guideway (even if not the exact same guideway) for “transit” operation purposes they may consider that sufficient.

At the end of the day, the FTA is not the one at greatest risk from the U2C program, after all they’ve only reimbursed 8% of the Bay Street project so far and they’re only out a grand total of about $14.2 million in the end. It is JTA, and ultimately local taxpayers who are holding the bag, between the local funding and required payback for the Skyway if that became an issue. The FTA regularly handles (and dismisses) projects that are genuinely worth billions of dollars, and their job isn’t to save Jacksonville from what its leaders insist they want and are willing to pay most of the cost of. Nat Ford may get paid like a big shot and have the swagger for it but he’s small fry for this industry.
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 #529 on: June 03, 2024, 01:44:15 PM »
Quote
Councilman Johnson: Now I will tell you, I’m not gonna take it easy on you. I know we know each other but I’m gonna ask the tough questions because I did get my training in journalism and I am a journalist by trade so I will be asking those questions (Nat Ford: No worries.), so I want to ask: why autonomous? I mean there’s so many other things. I know I’ve heard from my colleagues, I like, I’m an early adapter right? I like to see technology in the new things happening, there are those who were saying, light rail or commuter rail or even expansion of bus services is a way to go? Why autonomous and why now?

Nat Ford: You know, about having the right service for the problem, right? For the challenge and when we look at light rail for example, we’re talking about in this case a 3 mile loop, let’s just use that 3 mile loop with a control center, and that control center could be expanded to manage hundreds of vehicles so when we talk about the ReadiRide zones and things of that nature, this control center can maintain all of that and operate all of that, so that’s a one-time kind of capital cost. In terms of the daily operations cost and initial capital investment, we’re talking in this particular case for 3 miles, $66 million so the average is about $30 million per mile for service.

It’s a scalable service, we can add vehicles, subtract vehicles, and one of our largest cost drivers at the JTA is the operator in the seat and so that limits us financially in terms of how much service we can provide based on our budget and our taxpayers and fares actually cover that budget. If we look to the future in being able to provide more transportation for our community, we have to look at that operational cost and that capital cost.

So I’ve heard, what about light rail? Let’s do light rail! Well, some of my colleagues are here in the room, when you talk about a $30 million per mile cost versus a $1 billion mile cost, I think the math speaks for itself. Do we need in Jacksonville, over 870 square miles with a severe lack of density, and our community, light rail would not be the right solution from a per passenger cost, that system, folks would ride into downtown, commuting to work in the morning and they would commute home, and during the day and in the evening we are still paying for that service. It’s not scalable. The tracks, the catenary wire that would have to be installed, billions of dollars that would be invested and you have that ongoing operation and maintenance cost.

I’ve been fortunate. I’ve built pretty much every surface transportation mode that’s out there. I’d love to build rail in Jacksonville, but in this particular instance in Downtown Jacksonville and in your community, in the communities that are less dense, using a jackhammer to deal with a tack is overkill and I think it would be the wrong decision at this point. We are looking at rail, potentially regional rail, connecting the different cities within Northeast Florida, but a light rail solution, the ridership isn’t there and I think it’s disingenuous sometimes to throw that up as a substitute for this program because no one actually talks about the cost of that investment.

Councilman Johnson: And it’s destructive, right? Our grandkids, I mean in our lifetimes, would we even see the realization of that?

Nat Ford: I think frankly what I’m seeing with this technology is the flexibility, the scalability, the adaptability, why? Because you don’t have those fixed tracks and fixed stations so when we talk about downtown Jacksonville, we have the Bay Street Innovation Corridor and that 3 mile loop that 3 mile loop could be adjusted based on time of day, day of week, Jaguars game, Jumbo Shrimp baseball game, so we can adjust frequency, we can scale up and not have that operating cost that we actually deal with using the technology, and frankly it’s preparing for the future. Vehicles will get larger, more capacity, things of that nature.

This is the type of stuff that drives a transportation planner like me bonkers. There's no such thing as a one-size-fits all transportation solution.....period. Over an 800-square-mile area....and a lot more when you consider the surrounding counties, you're going to need a lot of different modes working together to move people. Its also quite disingenuous to say LRT will be a billion per mile in Jax......and I'm not even in the group that thinks LRT will work here. Guess what else won't work.......AVs from Downtown to Argyle. So we're going to need everything from that 40-foot-bus to intercity rail, depending on the density of the neighborhood, potential ridership, existing infrastructure, land use and available corridors to adjacent counties. That's the flexibility and adaptability we need to be discussing locally. Not pitting different modes of transit against each other.

What really bothered me about that part is the two-faced nature of it. Jacksonville is growing rapidly, now the 10th largest city in the country, and their planning along Bay Street considered the development of multiple museums, luxury hotels, and a new district around the stadium even including a convention center, and yet simultaneously is hopelessly low density in a way no other city has ever been and the only possible way to provide effective transit service is with “flexible,” low-capacity autonomous vehicles? Really?

Building light rail would take years which is why we need autonomous vehicles but the BRT network took at least 14 years (2007-2021) and just getting Bay Street open will have been a 10 year process (2015-2025), not to mention the Skyway Conversion and neighborhood extensions.

Also are we being expected to believe that every autonomous vehicle JTA ever deploys (“hundreds” as Ford claims) will have to be maintained from a single block in LaVilla? Meanwhile they talk about cost of labor when there is no real timeline for if these vehicles will actually be able to safely operate without on-board attendants? Or that somehow a light rail system is only usable for 9-5 commuters and no one else?

It’s ludicrous to claim people are being disingenuous by saying that we should actually try and take the steps cities around the world have taken to make a generational investment in building transit and then density around that transit instead of throwing hundreds of millions so we can claim we were first at something (again!).

Not to mention the blatant lie of light rail costing a billion dollars per mile to build. I’m sure that’s news to Charlotte and St. Louis and Dallas and Norfolk and Phoenix and Seattle and all of the other cities with light rail networks.
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 #530 on: June 03, 2024, 02:23:23 PM »
And, based on letters Marcus posted previously, I strongly believe the Fed payback on the Skyway is a red herring and could go away by simply pushing for it, if it is even a real issue monetarily at this point.

Personally, that isn’t really my takeaway from those letters. For context, the most recent letter (dated April 20, 2021) includes the following:

Quote
As with any other FTA-funded project, grant recipients assume certain obligations when
applying for and accepting Federal funding. Specifically, FTA funding recipients agree to
maintain continuing control of the use of project property and constructed improvements to the
extent satisfactory to FTA. The recipient agrees to use project property for appropriate project
purposes for the duration of the useful life of that property, as described in FTA’s Award
Management Requirements guidance (FTA C 5010.1E). Of particular relevance here, if a
recipient “fails to use its federally assisted property during the useful life of that property, the
recipient agrees that it may be required to return the entire amount of the federal assistance
expended on that property to FTA.”


FTA understands that JTA and local stakeholders are currently in discussions regarding the
continued use of the Skyway. As stated above, while these choices are ultimately local
decisions, FTA wants to ensure the decision is made with all the facts and in full recognition of
JTA’s past commitments. We look forward to our upcoming, regularly scheduled quarterly
meeting on April 27, 2021, when we can further discuss the contents of this letter.

This language does suggest to me that JTA are in fact under the constraints that have been expressed regarding the Skyway’s infrastructure. I am curious how the (presumably locally funded) “conversion” of the Skyway would impact that, but I suspect that because in theory it would retain an elevated guideway (even if not the exact same guideway) for “transit” operation purposes they may consider that sufficient.

At the end of the day, the FTA is not the one at greatest risk from the U2C program, after all they’ve only reimbursed 8% of the Bay Street project so far and they’re only out a grand total of about $14.2 million in the end. It is JTA, and ultimately local taxpayers who are holding the bag, between the local funding and required payback for the Skyway if that became an issue. The FTA regularly handles (and dismisses) projects that are genuinely worth billions of dollars, and their job isn’t to save Jacksonville from what its leaders insist they want and are willing to pay most of the cost of. Nat Ford may get paid like a big shot and have the swagger for it but he’s small fry for this industry.

Marcus, I recall you posted two letters in your original sharing.  I analyzed them and why I concluded as I have at that posting.  I don't remember which thread it is in but if you can link it here I am happy to revisit with you. 

Regardless, the dollars of payback and political pressure should add up to not being an obstacle to walking away from the Skyway, especially when we are talking about multiples of additional wasted investments to salvage it... i.e. the tail wagging the dog.

Charles Hunter

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Re: Is U2C serious? Help me make it make sense....
« Reply #531 on: June 03, 2024, 02:52:41 PM »
Being a regulations nerd, I looked up FTA C 5010.1E to try to get a handle on "useful life."

Quote
Facilities. Determining the useful life of a facility must take into
consideration such factors as the type of construction, nature of the equipment
used, historical usage patterns, and technological developments. Based on
any of the methods identified above in Chapter IV, Paragraph 4.f(1), a
railroad or highway structure has a minimum useful life of 50 years, and most
other buildings and facilities (concrete, steel, and frame construction) have a
useful life of 40 years.

The way I read this, the "useful life" of the Skyway structure is either 50 years, if it is considered a "railroad or highway structure", and  40 years if it falls under "most other buildings and facilities (concrete, steel, and frame construction)".

The starter line (Convention Center to Central) opened at the end of May 1989, thus a 40-year life continues to 2029, and 50 years 2039.
The North Line opened in December 1997, giving end-of-life in 2037 or 2047.
The South Line opened almost a year later, with the corresponding end-of-life years (2038 or 2048).
I am not sure if reconfiguring the guideway of the Starter Line to add the monorail beam resets the clock on that segment to 1997 when it reopened.

For assets that aren't (or can't be) sold to someone else (like a bus), the "recipient" must use straight-line depreciation to determine the remaining value of the facility. For the Starter Line, that means JTA would have to repay (assuming they stop using the guideway in 2024) either 12.5% or 30% of the Federal share of the original grant(s) funding the Starter Line. If the clock got reset by adding the monorail beam to 1997, the remaining life percentages change to 32.5% to 46%.

This applies if JTA stops using the guideway, but they say they are going to reconfigure it to accommodate the AVs. (I'm still curious as to how they are going to go from Guideway Level to Street Level.)

thelakelander

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Re: Is U2C serious? Help me make it make sense....
« Reply #532 on: June 03, 2024, 03:02:48 PM »
Yes, the Skyway payback thing has nothing to do with them forcing AVs on it. As long as it's used, there's no payback required. Any type of technology/rolling stock that can potentially work on that thing would satisfy that issue. A big problem in Jax is public transit ignorance among the decision makers. JTA is speaking circles around these people but they don't have the professional expertise in this particular area to know what's real and what isn't. Adding local politics (logic and local politics don't always go hand in hand) to the mix makes it worse.
« Last Edit: June 03, 2024, 03:07:17 PM by thelakelander »
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