June 5 Mail: Changes Needed to Bus Routes
Thank you for running your Editor’s Note on JAX2025 in the May 22 issue of Folio Weekly. Your comment on taking the bus to support the transportation initiative brings up two points regarding the Jacksonville Transportation Authority. One is negative, and one is positive.
The first item covered will be the criticism of JTA and the timing of the bus routes. At a recent Chamber of Commerce event, I sat with Ida Gropper of Catholic Charities. Part of the service provided by Catholic Charities is to find jobs for those recently unemployed. Here is where the issue with JTA comes into play.
There were several janitorial jobs available. They had people willing to work; however, they did not have automobiles to transport them. These individuals were able to take the bus to work in the late afternoon or early evening, but when they got off work at 2 a.m., there was no transportation available. The lack of late-running buses is an issue that needs to resolved in order to help the unemployed.
This is an issue to be addressed as JTA updates its system and evaluates the current bus routes and service levels. Hopefully, as JTA reviews these issues over the next few months, there will be a resolution to the lack of late-night service.
The second item was the two hours it took for you to get from Arlington to work on Philips Highway. JTA is expected to have a Bus Rapid Transit (BRT/MAX) system in place on Philips Highway by 2015. There also should be an Arlington route in place before 2020. These routes would have a 10-minute time between buses (headways) during peak hours (basically, 7-10 a.m. and 4-7 p.m.). During non-peak times, the headways would be 15 minutes. While it probably will take 30 to 40 minutes to run each route, the wait times will be less. In addition, there will be Park-n-Ride locations along the routes.
The BRT/MAX routes will have fewer stops; however, Shad Road and Philips Highway would be a likely location for the first stop north of The Avenues. Of course, there will be Park-n-Ride lots at The Avenues and where J. Turner Butler Expressway dead-ends into Philips Highway. The BRT/MAX buses will also stop at a couple of Skyway stations to provide Downtown circulation for patrons.
There are also plans for a Lem Turner BRT/MAX route and a Southwest BRT/MAX route. There are a few issues to be worked out regarding the Downtown portion of the BRT/MAX routes; however, when these are resolved, the system will be a boon to those commuting anywhere along the routes and will speed up other bus routes that will be adjusted to feed riders to these planned routes.
Bruce A. Fouraker