Author Topic: Time to cut bait on JTA's driverless Skyway replacement  (Read 32331 times)

thelakelander

  • The Jaxson
  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 34893
    • Modern Cities
Re: Time to cut bait on JTA's driverless Skyway replacement
« Reply #15 on: September 07, 2023, 02:46:25 PM »
For a pilot or innovation experiment, this is fine. We just need to stop talking like this is an alternative to mass transit solutions. It's simply a first, last mile option that can compliment 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

marcuscnelson

  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 2222
  • Gen Z - Tired of the status quo
Re: Time to cut bait on JTA's driverless Skyway replacement
« Reply #16 on: September 09, 2023, 01:04:51 PM »
JTA has quietly made some updates to the U2C website.

The Bay Street Innovation Corridor section now notes that it was procured using a Progressive Project Delivery Agreement, and provides a timeline declaring that construction will begin in January 2024 and operations will commence in June 2025.

The Skyway Conversion section now specifies the funding made available by the LOGT (totaling $246.84 million), provides a timeline for their PD&E study procurement (set to complete sometime this fall), and most interestingly seems to suggest that the proposed O&M facility in LaVilla is part of that phase and not the BSIC. If this is not an error, I wonder if it might be because costs have continued to escalate for the BSIC to the point they need to draw from LOGT funds in order to pay for the facility.

There's also a new section for the RAISE Planning Grant received in FY 2021, which they are apparently still negotiating with USDOT, but plan to complete by the end of September 2026.
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

  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 2222
  • Gen Z - Tired of the status quo
Re: Time to cut bait on JTA's driverless Skyway replacement
« Reply #17 on: September 13, 2023, 08:53:26 PM »
JTA today released a fourteen minute video defending the U2C project and deriding its detractors. It includes the following quote:

Quote
Like anything new, autonomous technology has its detractors, most from those not involved in the transportation industry or who have worked with AVs in any way. But the public transit industry professionals who have been studying and testing it for several years, like those at the JTA and elsewhere in Florida, and the nearly 40 agencies across the United States, know that this technology works and is the future of transportation.

The video includes renderings of the proposed O&M facility in LaVilla (featuring a redesign) and also notes that JTA has failed to receive an FTA waiver from Buy America requirements and is now asking the city to allow for the establishment of dedicated lanes on Bay Street because they could cut travel time by half. It does not include a cost estimate of the project, although it does say that "cost projections have continued to change, due in part to supply chain issues and other factors."

So things are going great, clearly.
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

  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 3318
Re: Time to cut bait on JTA's driverless Skyway replacement
« Reply #18 on: September 13, 2023, 11:03:50 PM »
Quote
Like anything new, autonomous technology has its detractors, most from those not involved in the transportation industry or who have worked with AVs in any way. But the public transit industry professionals who have been studying and testing it for several years, like those at the JTA and elsewhere in Florida, and the nearly 40 agencies across the United States, know that this technology works and is the future of transportation.

When I read the bold phrase here, I thought it was an apt description of the JTA team, not the public  ;D.

I would like JTA to cite those "industry professionals" and "agencies" who "know this technology works" for mass transit vehicles as JTA proposes. Tick tock, tick tock, tick tock....

Ken_FSU

  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 1611
Re: Time to cut bait on JTA's driverless Skyway replacement
« Reply #19 on: September 13, 2023, 11:45:20 PM »
JTA today released a fourteen minute video defending the U2C project and deriding its detractors. It includes the following quote:

Quote
Like anything new, autonomous technology has its detractors, most from those not involved in the transportation industry or who have worked with AVs in any way. But the public transit industry professionals who have been studying and testing it for several years, like those at the JTA and elsewhere in Florida, and the nearly 40 agencies across the United States, know that this technology works and is the future of transportation.

The video includes renderings of the proposed O&M facility in LaVilla (featuring a redesign) and also notes that JTA has failed to receive an FTA waiver from Buy America requirements and is now asking the city to allow for the establishment of dedicated lanes on Bay Street because they could cut travel time by half. It does not include a cost estimate of the project, although it does say that "cost projections have continued to change, due in part to supply chain issues and other factors."

So things are going great, clearly.

Nothing screams security like attacking the critics personally instead of attacking the arguments.

Can’t afford a simple, no-frills Skyway connection to Brooklyn using largely existing infrastructure but let’s add dedicated clown car lanes on Bay Street now? Talk about throwing good money after bad.

Whole thing needs to be shut down.


thelakelander

  • The Jaxson
  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 34893
    • Modern Cities
Re: Time to cut bait on JTA's driverless Skyway replacement
« Reply #20 on: September 14, 2023, 12:24:59 AM »
Good video. It literally proves this transportation expert's points! What I've been saying for years are playing out exactly as predicted:

1. Larger vehicles are needed to increase capacity to make the expense worthwhile.
2. Regardless of rolling stock and/or technology, dedicated lanes and ROW is needed from a safety and reliability perspective.
3. I've always said, regardless of what people say locally, there are obstacles facing AVs outside of Jax's and JTA's control that still must be overcome.

Surprisingly, this video mentions one of them. We still need an AV manufacturer to build a plant in the U.S. Eventually, that will happen (or we'll change the law requiring this), but it won't before 2025.

Unfortunately, these issues will likely raise the overall costs of this thing, making it cost more than streetcar but with less overall capacity and ability to stimulate TOD. As for the people in the video, the lion's share are personally invested in the industry, pitch woo to JTA to get contracts or live off taxpayer funds. So they don't mean much to me. It would be different if this were a cross section of Jax's non AV/JTA-linked individuals.

The one new thing that caught my eye was the change in the design of the maintenance center in LaVilla. The design isn't there yet, but a little better than what was shown to me two weeks ago. .

When the project eventually goes belly up, this structure can be used for something that actually enhances street life and activity in LaVilla.

However, I'm not aware of a workshop with the LaVilla Heritage Trail & Gateway Committee taking place since the DDRB deferral last month. The video may be a bit misleading there.

« Last Edit: September 14, 2023, 12:35:34 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

Ken_FSU

  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 1611
Re: Time to cut bait on JTA's driverless Skyway replacement
« Reply #21 on: September 14, 2023, 01:56:42 PM »
From the T-U article, it sounds like the plan for dedicated U2C lanes involves removing all on-street parking from Bay Street.

https://www.jacksonville.com/story/news/local/2023/09/14/automated-shuttle-transit-corridor-will-cost-more-to-build-by-2025/70836746007/

That should be good for business.

thelakelander

  • The Jaxson
  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 34893
    • Modern Cities
Re: Time to cut bait on JTA's driverless Skyway replacement
« Reply #22 on: September 14, 2023, 02:05:05 PM »
^Basically shows the lack of true community engagement. I can't imagine any business owner in downtown is favor of removing on-street parking in front of their storefronts. Broad Street in LaVilla is a good example of this. Removing parallel parking to put in bus lanes has not led to one storefront opening on Broad.

I do agree that they need dedicated lanes. However, the solution must not sacrifice on street parking. It's going to have to involve removing a travel lane and narrowing down the rest. Since the ROW is constrained, this could mean that Bay Street isn't the right street for the U2C. Unfortunately, if there was true community engagement, we would have figured that out years ago.

From the T-U article, it sounds like the plan for dedicated U2C lanes involves removing all on-street parking from Bay Street.

https://www.jacksonville.com/story/news/local/2023/09/14/automated-shuttle-transit-corridor-will-cost-more-to-build-by-2025/70836746007/

That should be good for business.

LOL, up to $65 million now?! Another prediction nailed here. The cost has risen again to the point where my most recent editorial about the U2C is already out of date. At what point do we start using common sense with this? There's still an opportunity to save face for JTA without lighting an additional hundreds of millions in local public tax money on fire.
« Last Edit: September 14, 2023, 02:08:37 PM 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

jaxoNOLE

  • Sr. Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 311
Re: Time to cut bait on JTA's driverless Skyway replacement
« Reply #23 on: September 14, 2023, 02:55:09 PM »
It seems like JTA is intentionally creating sunk costs such that we get to a point where, politically, the city can't walk away from the project.

Why did the cost increase? Because of an entirely foreseeable situation where JTA face-palms and exclaims, "Gee, we can't use the Skyway O&M facility! Silly us, we forgot the Skyway had to continue operating! Oh well, we already have $49 million, what's $16M more?"

Why blow $65 million on a full build-out of an AV implementation on Bay Street without running any kind of pilot there? How much would it have cost to run a bus-based shuttle along the proposed route and stand up a few bare-bones stops to test the concept and demand for such a transit loop? Because...the BSIC isn't really meant to be true transit; it's just an extension of Armsdale, and $65 million in sunk costs means we're stuck with it. Also, by running a pilot, they might inadvertently prove that buses would be a highly cost-effective solution. Can't have that! Or worse still, that if buses aren't successful, maybe there's no demand for this route. Certainly if we can wait 10 years (2015-2025), we aren't desperate for a BSIC route.

Why not propose dedicated ROW from day 1? Certainly they knew it was preferable and would ease implementation. But then, they might not have gotten the support of Council if they realized the true scope of the tradeoffs. Surfacing these tradeoffs only after years of sunk time and cost into research and planning allows them to shrug and say, "Well, we've come this far...."

--

Regarding the video, it's hard not to laugh at the list of "experts" they use to prop up their argument that transit professionals "know this technology works." Who knows the technology works? Well, of course, all of those stakeholders whose livelihoods depend on it working! But don't just trust them--ask a few corporate reps who have everything to gain from JTA's reckless pursuit of AVs! They'll vouch for it! Meanwhile, JTA enthusiastically positions itself as the first penguin into the water.

Conspicuously lacking is even a single shred of data from the 8 years of "study" at JTA or anywhere else. If they had any interest in silencing their detractors, they would address head-on how they've solved for the well-known issues that plague AVs. 

thelakelander

  • The Jaxson
  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 34893
    • Modern Cities
Re: Time to cut bait on JTA's driverless Skyway replacement
« Reply #24 on: September 14, 2023, 03:08:20 PM »
Just reading through the entire TU article:

Quote
"For operational purposes, we're not there yet," Regional Transit System Director Jesus Gomez told the Gainesville Sun of the results. "There's a lot of things we'd need to change for it to become a regular transit option."

The Gainesville service generally got good reviews from riders, but motorists didn't like being behind slow-moving shuttles going 9 mph.

Quote
Ford said it's an "apples to oranges" comparison between the vehicles used in pilot projects and the heightened specifications JTA will use for the U2C shuttles. For instance, he said the U2C shuttles will have multiple types of technology to guide them for different conditions. He said the will operate just as well in heavy rain as in sunshine. The shuttles will operate at speeds between 15 mph and 25 mph. The first phase will have 12 to 15 of the vehicles.

Only a fool would believe that something moving this slow in mixed traffic, won't frustrate the hell out of human drivers and lead to safety issues, as drivers speed around them in a downtown environment. It's really hard for me to understand how anyone using logic, can take this serious. No amount of sensors added are going to resolve this issue when operating in mixed traffic. Gainesville is literally telling us what will happen. Lake Nona is a good example too. There, people get frustrated and speed through crosswalks and four-way stops to get passed the slow moving AVs. So the human driver now manually moves the AV over to allow frustrated drivers to pass, when the back-up behind them gets long. No amount of testing in Armsdale is going to trump human behavior. This is a prime reason why dedicated lanes/ROW is critical.

"A man who views the world the same at 50 as he did at 20 has wasted 30 years of his life.” - Muhammad Ali

thelakelander

  • The Jaxson
  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 34893
    • Modern Cities
Re: Time to cut bait on JTA's driverless Skyway replacement
« Reply #25 on: September 14, 2023, 03:18:17 PM »
Quote
"They're going to hold us to the same standard running this operation with autonomous vehicles as they do with our fixed-route bus service," Gillis said. "That's why everyone is looking at us because when we make this work —and we will — all the other transit agencies will say, 'Okay, JTA wrote the playbook, we know how to put these into revenue service for ourselves.'"

People like looking as disasters in the making. Faces of Death made millions. Traffic backs up on the interstates all the time, only to find the congestion caused by people slowing down to look at wrecks on the side of the road. So, having everyone look at you isn't necessarily a good thing.

Unfortunately, the poor little taxpayer just wants transit that is reliable, works and is cost effective. From that perspective, it's okay if our transit agency focuses on running efficient, cost effective public transit, instead of trying to compete with Silicon Valley startups.

Quote
The main reason for the latest increase in the cost of the first phase of the U2C down Bay Street is it will include building a new $9.4 operations and maintenance center for the system. JTA originally intended to use the existing Skyway operation center but needs to keep that operating for the Skyway so it can run while work occurs on the Bay Street corridor.

This doesn't make sense. The maintenance center was proposed a long time before this year. That can't account for the price jump between February 2023 and now.


Quote
She said Bay Street willl be a "smart corridor" with intelligent transportation system technology for traffic signals, lighting and enhanced crosswalks. Eventually, the dedicated lanes for U2C shuttles could be used by other public transportation vehicles, bicycles and scooters.

Another idea that should be taken out back and quickly put to death. Bicycles and scooters should not share dedicated transit ROW. That's another disaster waiting to happen.
« Last Edit: September 14, 2023, 03:22:37 PM 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

Ken_FSU

  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 1611
Re: Time to cut bait on JTA's driverless Skyway replacement
« Reply #26 on: September 14, 2023, 04:10:27 PM »
Only a fool would believe that something moving this slow in mixed traffic, won't frustrate the hell out of human drivers and lead to safety issues, as drivers speed around them in a downtown environment. It's really hard for me to understand how anyone using logic, can take this serious. No amount of sensors added are going to resolve this issue when operating in mixed traffic.

This is already a REALLY dangerous stretch too thanks to the bizarre monstrosity the city has created to avoid fully removing the Hart Bridge flyover.

A series of like 60 weirdly timed red lights; blind traffic signals that you can't see until you're nearly off the ramps; I literally see accidents at least once a week coming off or leading up to the Hart Bridge.

Toss in clown cars going 10 mph (where are the 15 van-loads of paying customers looking for a 22-minute, $5 ride from LaVilla to the Stadium coming from?), it's a recipe for disaster.

Fully agree that Bay Street isn't the right spot for dedicated clowncar lanes either.

Man, talk about not learning from our transit mistakes.

Something like a street car system running from RAM or Five Points to the stadium, with routes into Springfield, the East Side, and San Marco would such a wiser investment, and would actually spur honest-to-God TOD.

But JTA is smarter than every city in America. No, smarter than just about every major city in the world.

They're all watching Jacksonville! Eyes fixed on 10 mph clown cars transporting businessmen with hobos in their laps from Captain Sandy's demolished restaurant to the Shipyards brownfields at a public cost of $8 million per ride.

Boy are they gonna have eggs on their faces.

marcuscnelson

  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 2222
  • Gen Z - Tired of the status quo
Re: Time to cut bait on JTA's driverless Skyway replacement
« Reply #27 on: September 14, 2023, 06:03:35 PM »
Geez, you go to get groceries and this bomb drops. More than $20 million overbudget. And to have the gall to tell us we don't know what we're talking about while this spirals out of control. What an upsetting read.

I do agree that they need dedicated lanes. However, the solution must not sacrifice on street parking. It's going to have to involve removing a travel lane and narrowing down the rest. Since the ROW is constrained, this could mean that Bay Street isn't the right street for the U2C. Unfortunately, if there was true community engagement, we would have figured that out years ago.

Fundamentally the problem here is that JTA lied to themselves and everyone with their insistence that AV shuttles could work in mixed traffic. The ability to operate in mixed traffic was fundamentally part of the premise behind justifying autonomous vehicles over existing technology. It's good that they're finally admitting those limitations exist, but tragic that they've done so while insisting we should continue to trust that no really, this time they've got it and it'll be great.

LOL, up to $65 million now?! Another prediction nailed here. The cost has risen again to the point where my most recent editorial about the U2C is already out of date. At what point do we start using common sense with this? There's still an opportunity to save face for JTA without lighting an additional hundreds of millions in local public tax money on fire.

I just think it's funny that the article still cites the $247 million estimate for the Skyway conversion.

It seems like JTA is intentionally creating sunk costs such that we get to a point where, politically, the city can't walk away from the project.

Why did the cost increase? Because of an entirely foreseeable situation where JTA face-palms and exclaims, "Gee, we can't use the Skyway O&M facility! Silly us, we forgot the Skyway had to continue operating! Oh well, we already have $49 million, what's $16M more?"

You think?

Quote
Ford said the technology for automated vehicles is the wave of the future and offers far more flexibility for tailoring routes and service options than putting transit on tracks. He said the Federal Transit Administration has awarded about $200 million in competitive grants to JTA since 2016 because it will "finish what we started and fulfill our commitments."

"I see that enthusiasm bubble being burst if we're not very careful," board member Ari Jolly said.

Also they've had that block at Bay and Jefferson marked for the AV O&M facility since at least 2019, so either they're telling now about a decision that was made 4 years ago or they made up a justification now.

Why blow $65 million on a full build-out of an AV implementation on Bay Street without running any kind of pilot there? How much would it have cost to run a bus-based shuttle along the proposed route and stand up a few bare-bones stops to test the concept and demand for such a transit loop? Because...the BSIC isn't really meant to be true transit; it's just an extension of Armsdale, and $65 million in sunk costs means we're stuck with it. Also, by running a pilot, they might inadvertently prove that buses would be a highly cost-effective solution. Can't have that! Or worse still, that if buses aren't successful, maybe there's no demand for this route. Certainly if we can wait 10 years (2015-2025), we aren't desperate for a BSIC route.

It's especially worth remembering here that at this point over 60% of the funding is JTA/COJ money. As the article notes, the federal grant is only $12.5 million, matched by $13 million from FDOT. The remaining $39.5 million is local. I understand the concern that giving back the grant might cool future funding opportunities but there's no way the cost-benefit of going forward with this project is worth it for anyone other than the executives in charge of it.

Fully agree that Bay Street isn't the right spot for dedicated clowncar lanes either.

Man, talk about not learning from our transit mistakes.

Something like a street car system running from RAM or Five Points to the stadium, with routes into Springfield, the East Side, and San Marco would such a wiser investment, and would actually spur honest-to-God TOD.

But JTA is smarter than every city in America. No, smarter than just about every major city in the world.

They're all watching Jacksonville! Eyes fixed on 10 mph clown cars transporting businessmen with hobos in their laps from Captain Sandy's demolished restaurant to the Shipyards brownfields at a public cost of $8 million per ride.

Boy are they gonna have eggs on their faces.

I think more recently the feds have cooled a bit on rail projects without more significant ridership potential (read: either serious TOD plans with the zoning to match or an existing served population that has a real chance of riding), so a streetcar might not make it into the Capital Improvement Grants program like it could have a decade ago, but $65 million (not to mention the additional $247 million already piling up in the bank) is more than enough to decide on and start implementing a real vision for not just downtown circulation but regional mass transit. We can't afford to keep spinning wheels the way we have for the last 8 years but we can't afford to blow hundreds of millions on Nat Ford's self-driving dream either.

It is beyond time for this city's leadership to take accountability and put an end to this experiment before we can't anymore.
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

Jax_Developer

  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 550
Re: Time to cut bait on JTA's driverless Skyway replacement
« Reply #28 on: September 14, 2023, 08:18:31 PM »
Congrats, we will have driverless cars in a dedicated ROW moving on a fixed line. How impressive. Probably the most expensive form of fixed-route transit ever. In lieu of using these things called rails, we will use millions of dollars of imaging technology to do the exact same thing, with less capacity. We should really be celebrating this great (regressive) achievement.

tufsu1

  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 11414
Re: Time to cut bait on JTA's driverless Skyway replacement
« Reply #29 on: September 14, 2023, 09:01:16 PM »

This is already a REALLY dangerous stretch too thanks to the bizarre monstrosity the city has created to avoid fully removing the Hart Bridge flyover.

correction - FDOT