Author Topic: Alstom signs contract to operate and maintain 27-year-old monorail  (Read 1331 times)

marcuscnelson

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Some news out of Newark: Alstom has signed a 7-year contract with the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey to operate and maintain the AirTrain Newark monorail. This is a monorail system that has existed through three acquisitions: Von Roll being acquired by Adtranz, Adtranz being acquired by Bombardier, and Bombardier being acquired by Alstom.

https://www.railwayage.com/passenger/transit-briefs-brightline-pany-nj/
https://www.alstom.com/press-releases-news/2023/3/alstom-signs-seven-year-operations-and-maintenance-services-contract-newark-liberty-international-airport

It's interesting that this system is (slightly) older than the Skyway and yet is still able to secure O&M contracts with (the descendant) of its manufacturer, while JTA seems unable or unwilling to do the same.
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: Alstom signs contract to operate and maintain 27-year-old monorail
« Reply #1 on: March 21, 2023, 10:55:26 AM »
I think we (and JTA) all know that there are several non U2C solutions available for addressing the Skyway's future. Unfortunately, for JTA, the position is AVs or bust. Very unfortunate for Jacksonville transit users and advocates in general.
"A man who views the world the same at 50 as he did at 20 has wasted 30 years of his life.” - Muhammad Ali

simms3

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Re: Alstom signs contract to operate and maintain 27-year-old monorail
« Reply #2 on: March 21, 2023, 12:19:26 PM »
LeAnna voting day plug here - she is correct in that the city/JTA shouldn't be raising taxes and taking our money to "expand" the Skyway.  There are just too many better transit options out there that will actually spur economic development, result in increased tax base through real estate development, and be useful and actually ridden (for a typical charge, not for FREE) to more people.

Jax is all about pie in the sky ideas that no other city has implemented (for a reason).  U2C is just the latest.
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marcuscnelson

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Re: Alstom signs contract to operate and maintain 27-year-old monorail
« Reply #3 on: March 21, 2023, 01:42:41 PM »
LeAnna voting day plug here - she is correct in that the city/JTA shouldn't be raising taxes and taking our money to "expand" the Skyway.  There are just too many better transit options out there that will actually spur economic development, result in increased tax base through real estate development, and be useful and actually ridden (for a typical charge, not for FREE) to more people.

Jax is all about pie in the sky ideas that no other city has implemented (for a reason).  U2C is just the latest.

Personally I disagree to an extent. I think it's perfectly prudent as a city, especially one of the largest in the country, to invest in mass transportation. The TPO just noted at its last meeting that there is more than $5 billion being spent on transportation in Northeast Florida over the next five years. Nearly all of that is highway expansion, resurfacing, or bridge work, which is worrisome for a city that has any hope of growing sustainably in the future. I have no problem with the idea of using some of the money drivers spend on transportation alternatives. I even think that it's reasonable to spend some of that money on the Skyway. The original mantra in 2015 of "keep, modernize, and expand" made enough sense, especially when it's exactly what Miami is doing with their people mover. Ensuring that such a modernized and expanded system would be a competitive mobility option compared to driving would do a lot of the work in justifying a fare for riders.

Where I do agree is that JTA has flagrantly abused the goodwill it created in 2015 by chasing experimental technology as a panacea for the challenges in modernizing and expanding the existing Skyway. The technology proposed in the U2C does have some promise, especially for suburbs where larger transit technologies might be difficult or unreasonable. But not for the heart of a city of our size, and not as the only major transit project under serious development over the next several years.

I'm well aware that LeAnna Cumber's husband is experienced in the development of large transportation projects, notably as an executive for Brightline's parent company. I would even hope that some of that experience is transparently leveraged in finding real transportation solutions for Jacksonville if she becomes Mayor. But I don't believe that trying to undo the LOGT is the direction we need to go in, or entirely stripping the Skyway of any funding. As I said two years ago, it'd be perfectly rational to spend even a couple tens of millions to overhaul the trains, get the system into a state of good repair for its remaining lifespan, and complete the promised extension to Brooklyn; before turning our attention to other options, whether that's commuter rail or even running more buses more frequently (we promised the FTA the First Coast Flyer would run every 10 minutes at peak).

I do think a mayor that gives even a little more well-considered attention to transportation will be good for Jacksonville, and if Cumber does win I would hope she does so with the goal of providing better mobility overall, not just spiking projects. Philadelphia, which is also dealing with a mayoral election, is a great example of this. Just last week, they canceled a poorly-thought-out, overly expensive transit project that the FTA would not support, and political leaders are starting to turn their attention to an alternative project with a much better value for citizens. That's the mindset we need 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

jaxoNOLE

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Re: Alstom signs contract to operate and maintain 27-year-old monorail
« Reply #4 on: March 21, 2023, 02:00:24 PM »
My biggest concern is that a new administration chooses to ignore the Skyway, by default allowing the U2C plan to continue on autopilot (pardon the pun). I'd feel much better if there was some accountability, a safety driver if you will, to make sure the allocated funds aren't just going into a black hole. Okay, I'm sorry, I'm done.

In all seriousness, as Marcus raised in another thread, there's no way the LOGT money will be enough to fund conversion by the time they get to construction. With major design questions yet to be resolved, there are just too many unknowns to accurately estimate a cost. At some point in the next mayoral administration, there's likely to be an ask for more money. Our next mayor needs to have a position on that. I have my issues with Cumber, but if she ends up in office, at least we know the bleeding on the U2C should stop. I suspect the same of Ferraro.

While a comprehensive, grounded, forward-looking and realistic plan for the Skyway would be ideal, torpedoing a clearly bad idea and reallocating hundreds of millions to other badly needed infrastructure projects would still be a huge improvement over the status quo. I think the LOGT has been tested and hopefully we get beyond the prospect of repealing it as projects start to come online. The prospect of a looming financial crunch will also probably help to keep repeal attempts more rhetorical than anything.

Jax_Developer

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Re: Alstom signs contract to operate and maintain 27-year-old monorail
« Reply #5 on: March 21, 2023, 04:54:42 PM »
How much longer can they realistically ride out the U2C plan? Genuinely curious. At this point, it seems like their plan has imploded as far as the timeline is concerned. Just wondering what's next? Wait til we get a new mayor basically?

thelakelander

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Re: Alstom signs contract to operate and maintain 27-year-old monorail
« Reply #6 on: March 21, 2023, 11:36:57 PM »
Good question. Unfortunately, JTA and Jax don't control the timeline, as the technology isn't there and may not be for some time. At the best, they can get a few human driver controlled AVs running in mixed traffic. Unfortunately, that's more of a technology experiment and less real reliable mass transit.
"A man who views the world the same at 50 as he did at 20 has wasted 30 years of his life.” - Muhammad Ali