Author Topic: Time to cut bait on JTA's driverless Skyway replacement  (Read 30547 times)

thelakelander

  • The Jaxson
  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 34761
    • Modern Cities
Time to cut bait on JTA's driverless Skyway replacement
« on: September 04, 2023, 04:47:55 PM »
Quote


Six years after the Jacksonville Transportation Authority announced its proposal to replace the Skyway monorail with a fleet of driverless vehicles, reports are showing the required technology is still years if not decades away. It's time for Jacksonville leaders to cut bait on JTA's expensive fantasy and focus on proven forms of transit.


Read More: https://www.thejaxsonmag.com/article/time-to-cut-bait-on-jtas-driverless-skyway-replacement/
"A man who views the world the same at 50 as he did at 20 has wasted 30 years of his life.” - Muhammad Ali

Charles Hunter

  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 4997
Re: Time to cut bait on JTA's driverless Skyway replacement
« Reply #1 on: September 04, 2023, 04:53:07 PM »
All great points. Now, to get the attention of the new administration.

jaxlongtimer

  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 3218
Re: Time to cut bait on JTA's driverless Skyway replacement
« Reply #2 on: September 04, 2023, 10:02:19 PM »
Here, here!  Great article.  Only wish you added that JTA's apparent reason for incorporating a future plan built around the Skyway is not only self preservation of its executive team but also a false premise that abandoning the Skyway somehow results in a financial catastrophe courtesy of the Feds.  Clearly, based on the letters posted by Marcus, this is not true and the credibility of JTA is made further suspect above and beyond the points in this article.

Time to clean house... either the JTA board and/or the JTA management... if they don't back down on this project ASAP.
« Last Edit: September 05, 2023, 12:21:28 AM by jaxlongtimer »

marcuscnelson

  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 2181
  • Gen Z - Tired of the status quo
Re: Time to cut bait on JTA's driverless Skyway replacement
« Reply #3 on: September 04, 2023, 11:54:04 PM »
Was wondering when this would go up here. Great article. Encouraging to see that some members of City Council have already taken note.

With two manufacturers bankrupt, the rest overseas and unlikely to come to America, the project's executive gone, and the industry already starting a body count, it has never been clearer that now is the time to pull the plug. Give JTA credit if one wants for imagining the possibilities, but it's time to get serious about the future of this region's transit. We're too big to rely on buses alone, and our major destinations too far apart to settle for a slow downtown circulator alone. The board's mandate nearly 8 years ago was to keep, modernize, and expand. With that time passed, we need a serious evaluation of whether the APM Demonstration should be part of our options or allowed to sunset in favor of new, proven solutions, with whatever cost that entails. We either need to find a way to simplify the Bay Street project so we can use its funds for other improvements or give the feds their $12.5 million back.

However we can, it's time to change course for the sake of this city. If Nat Ford, his executive team and the mayoral JTA board appointees don't want to be part of that, they are welcome to walk.
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

  • The Jaxson
  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 34761
    • Modern Cities
Re: Time to cut bait on JTA's driverless Skyway replacement
« Reply #4 on: September 05, 2023, 12:22:08 AM »
^The council member is right. For those who want to talk AV innovation and want a public transportation agency to compete with Tesla instead of focusing on running quality public transit (the Skyway is abysmal these days and breaks down so much, even its unreliable to those who use it), you can still do that with the Bay Street project that already has funding. No need to blow an additional hundreds of millions of public money at this point.
« Last Edit: September 05, 2023, 12:24:41 AM by thelakelander »
"A man who views the world the same at 50 as he did at 20 has wasted 30 years of his life.” - Muhammad Ali

iMarvin

  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 503
Re: Time to cut bait on JTA's driverless Skyway replacement
« Reply #5 on: September 05, 2023, 12:59:21 AM »
I don't think wanting to utilize the existing Skyway structure is bad idea. The stations are in decent locations and having a grade-separated system is really priceless. JTA is just looking at the wrong technology.

Light rail is fine if done correctly but that's rarely the case in the US. At-grade light rail that gets stuck in the same traffic as cars won't convince anyone to use it. At the very least, it needs to be completely grade-separated in the urban areas. A streetcar similar to the ones in DC, Atlanta, or Charlotte isn't even worth looking into imo.

I'm going to once again mention that I think automated light metro is the way to go. JTA can continue to market it as driverless and innovative (at least it would be in the US). A big benefit with the driverless trains is the ability to have higher frequencies with no extra (labor) cost, something that's not possible with light rail. It's future-proofed by being grade separated; no need to worry about blocking intersections, capacity issues, etc as time goes on (Dallas is dealing with that now).

Honolulu, a smaller city, recently opened their own system so it is possible. I hope it's also considered.
« Last Edit: September 05, 2023, 01:02:57 AM by iMarvin »

thelakelander

  • The Jaxson
  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 34761
    • Modern Cities
Re: Time to cut bait on JTA's driverless Skyway replacement
« Reply #6 on: September 05, 2023, 08:27:11 AM »
I don't think wanting to utilize the existing Skyway structure is bad idea. The stations are in decent locations and having a grade-separated system is really priceless. JTA is just looking at the wrong technology.

Definitely agree. Something like a tram or light weight streetcar would work just fine utilizing the existing Skyway structure and dropping it down to grade at every terminus spot......except at Bay and Hogan.

Quote
Light rail is fine if done correctly but that's rarely the case in the US. At-grade light rail that gets stuck in the same traffic as cars won't convince anyone to use it. At the very least, it needs to be completely grade-separated in the urban areas. A streetcar similar to the ones in DC, Atlanta, or Charlotte isn't even worth looking into imo.

Anything that shares lanes with cars should be a non-starter. No matter the mode. The key, regardless of the technology is a mix of grade separation and dedicated transit right-of-way. So from that perspective, the Skyway structure is a positive public transit amenity that can't be built for an affordable price today. So there is value in keeping it.

Quote
I'm going to once again mention that I think automated light metro is the way to go. JTA can continue to market it as driverless and innovative (at least it would be in the US). A big benefit with the driverless trains is the ability to have higher frequencies with no extra (labor) cost, something that's not possible with light rail. It's future-proofed by being grade separated; no need to worry about blocking intersections, capacity issues, etc as time goes on (Dallas is dealing with that now).

Honolulu, a smaller city, recently opened their own system so it is possible. I hope it's also considered.

If we're talking about expanding grade separation throughout the urban core, that's likely DOA when talking about attempting to expand into neighborhoods like Springfield and Riverside. Luckily, we may be 100 years away from being anywhere close to the size of the Metroplex.
"A man who views the world the same at 50 as he did at 20 has wasted 30 years of his life.” - Muhammad Ali

iMarvin

  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 503
Re: Time to cut bait on JTA's driverless Skyway replacement
« Reply #7 on: September 05, 2023, 10:34:15 AM »
If we're talking about expanding grade separation throughout the urban core, that's likely DOA when talking about attempting to expand into neighborhoods like Springfield and Riverside. Luckily, we may be 100 years away from being anywhere close to the size of the Metroplex.

It would definitely be a challenge but I don't see how you can build a true car-alternative without it. Any dedicated transit lane in Riverside/Avondale is going to require a complete street makeover anyway, so you might as well just go all out imo.

I think grade separation becomes more popular once people realize it's either that or taking away parking and/or travel lanes. Personally, I'd say why not both (elevated viaduct down the median of Main Street with expanded sidewalks and protected bike lanes) but I won't push my luck.

jaxlongtimer

  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 3218
Re: Time to cut bait on JTA's driverless Skyway replacement
« Reply #8 on: September 05, 2023, 11:51:12 AM »
^ Someone should study the street retail activity where the Skyway runs.  I know when it was being built, it killed off most of the remaining retail in Downtown and I don't recall much retail returning along its arteries to this day.  Maybe someone can double check my recall.

It seems to me there is a human aversion to "being under the tracks"  Due to their scale, they do come across as "industrial" so maybe that is a big part of it.  I do think running them slightly elevated on a berm with over/underpasses might me more acceptable.

Charles Hunter

  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 4997
Re: Time to cut bait on JTA's driverless Skyway replacement
« Reply #9 on: September 05, 2023, 12:07:13 PM »
Over on FB, JTA has made a self-congratulatory post on their AV program. It would be interesting to see how long a link to the "cut bait" article would last.

iMarvin

  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 503
Re: Time to cut bait on JTA's driverless Skyway replacement
« Reply #10 on: September 05, 2023, 01:40:02 PM »
^ Someone should study the street retail activity where the Skyway runs.  I know when it was being built, it killed off most of the remaining retail in Downtown and I don't recall much retail returning along its arteries to this day.  Maybe someone can double check my recall.

It seems to me there is a human aversion to "being under the tracks"  Due to their scale, they do come across as "industrial" so maybe that is a big part of it.  I do think running them slightly elevated on a berm with over/underpasses might me more acceptable.

I get it; most people think of the train lines in New York and Chicago when it comes to elevated tracks. But those were built 100 years ago... there's no need to build something like that anymore. I honestly don't know if there are any good US examples of an elevated line running through a historic/urban area.

I think Medellín did a pretty good job. I'm sure there are more examples around the world.

marcuscnelson

  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 2181
  • Gen Z - Tired of the status quo
Re: Time to cut bait on JTA's driverless Skyway replacement
« Reply #11 on: September 05, 2023, 01:46:07 PM »
Re: Honolulu, worth noting that despite Jacksonville having a larger population in both the city proper and metro area, Honolulu is about 4 times as dense a metro area. There would probably really need to be an obvious plan for serious upzoning around the stations for the federal government to support the cost of developing a similar system to Honolulu's. I agree that that a Skyline-style light metro would be the optimal choice for a region as geographically large as ours (or perhaps even something like the RRTS in India). Now that those systems have already been built, we can take advantage of what they've learned to reduce the cost of building them here, especially if future extensions begin to reach towards more distant places like town center or the beach.

Leveraging the existing Skyway infrastructure seems to keep getting us into this strange cycle regarding the elevated guideway and its expansion that ultimately helped lead JTA to justify autonomous vehicles by requiring expansions to be at-grade. So either we need to figure out a way to build the guideway (especially one that can handle heavier trains) into those areas that they'll accept or decide now to skip them with it if they don't want it.

I know the idea of a lightweight tram has come up before, and it seems the feasibility of one has generally been questionable. I think the most visible study in the past on it has been this one from 2015. I wonder if it would be any help for the city or JTA to find someone to explicitly study the prospect of a conversion of that nature. Something like the Siemens LRVs being built for Cleveland and which already run in San Francisco, Calgary, and Edmonton could be a model to follow if we can figure out how to reconfigure the guideway to support their weight. Given the degree of reconstruction JTA suggested would be needed anyway for the U2C, it could be worth pursuing a fix for rail transit.

^ Someone should study the street retail activity where the Skyway runs.  I know when it was being built, it killed off most of the remaining retail in Downtown and I don't recall much retail returning along its arteries to this day.  Maybe someone can double check my recall.

It seems to me there is a human aversion to "being under the tracks"  Due to their scale, they do come across as "industrial" so maybe that is a big part of it.  I do think running them slightly elevated on a berm with over/underpasses might me more acceptable.

I mean there's the U2C TOD study.
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

  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 1605
Re: Time to cut bait on JTA's driverless Skyway replacement
« Reply #12 on: September 05, 2023, 02:10:18 PM »
All great points. Now, to get the attention of the new administration.

They're aware of the different perspectives on this.

marcuscnelson

  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 2181
  • Gen Z - Tired of the status quo
Re: Time to cut bait on JTA's driverless Skyway replacement
« Reply #13 on: September 06, 2023, 12:09:02 PM »
Interesting for this news to drop now.

https://www.jtafla.com/media-center/press-releases/jacksonville-transportation-authority-jta-and-florida-state-college-at-jacksonville-to-advance-autonomous-vehicle-innovation-with-new-service-on-fscj-downtown-campus/

What confuses me is that I thought the whole idea of the Agile projects was supposed to be a follow-on program to the U2C, taking the completed project downtown and applying its lessons to create dozens of new AV networks on campuses across the region. This is the first time I've heard of it proposed as part of the R&D (sorry, "Test & Learn") for the U2C itself.

More importantly, I don't really see how this would address any of the known challenges with the U2C. FSCJ isn't the size of a football stadium, it doesn't sound like this strays far away from the campus if at all, hasn't navigated any of the regulatory issues including the very low speed limit. What would this do that no other AV pilot has done? How would it be any better or different than the SWAN shuttle, or the runs in Gainesville, or any number of other previous AV pilot programs?
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

acme54321

  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 3050
Re: Time to cut bait on JTA's driverless Skyway replacement
« Reply #14 on: September 07, 2023, 02:42:02 PM »
That's dumb.  You could walk clear from one side of FSCJ's campus to the other in like 5 minutes.