The Jacksonville Transportation Authority is changing the way we look at public transportation. TryTransit is a new campaign designed to encourage new ridership with a series of upgrades to boost service of the fixed route buses, the downtown Skyway system, the St. Johns River Ferry, the Paratransit system for handicapped customers, and trolleys.
JTA has introduced the TryTransit Challenge open to Jacksonville residents to show their support of public transportation by encouraging customers to take a selfie and post a challenge with the hashtag #TryJTA using social media. Once the challenge is posted, challenge colleagues, friends and family to do the same within 48 hours. The goal is to share and demonstrate the vitaI role public transit plays in Jacksonville and the Northeast Florida region.
Leigh Ann Rassler, public relations manager for JTA, says agency underwent “a complete overhaul” in 2014 to appeal to new riders and enhance the experience for existing riders. “We are trying to engage people to try JTA. The program is geared toward what we call choice riders,” says Rassler. “They have at least one car in the household and are not transit-dependent. We wanted to get more people off the congested roadways.”
“This is not the same bus system your parents rode.”
A series of new apps helps streamline the process of paying for fares, tracking vehicle routes and determining the most efficient routes. The Next Bus app offers real time passenger information to map out exactly when the next bus will arrive in relation to a rider’s location. “It will tell you when it’s eight minutes out, six minutes out, four minutes and so on,” Rassler says. “If you’re having coffee and you receive an alert, you know exactly when to wrap up to make the bus. It’s a significant enhancement to what was previously offered.”
Ferry riders can also download the MyJTA app that allows riders to purchase a pass with an iPhone or Android phone instead of relying on a cash transaction. Download the free MyJTA app from Google Play or the Apple App Store today or visit www.myjta.com for more information.
The MyJTA app can also be used to purchase tickets for the JTA trolleys. The Beaches Trolley will be available for festival-goers attending the 27th Annual Springing the Blues Festival from April 7-9. Riders purchase a one-ride ticket or a single-day pass. Trips are $1.50 each way or $4 for a one-day, unlimited-ride pass.
“We expect thousands of fans over the course of the weekend, so public parking will be at a premium,” says Sam Veal, Executive Producer of Springing the Blues. “The Beaches Trolley is a wonderful addition and a big convenience for fans, allowing them to simply take a quick ride and skip the search for parking. We thank JTA for providing our fans this special service.”
JTA is also working hard to promote the First Coast Flyer, JTA’s premium bus rapid transit service. The Flyer offers simple, direct routes, fewer stops, onboard enhancements and energy efficient travel. The Flyer fleet is comprised of 100% compressed natural gas vehicles that are quieter, more fuel efficient, and more environmentally friendly.
Once completed, The Flyer will be the largest bus rapid transit system in the Southeast covering 57 miles in dedicated travel lanes. They will arrive every 10 minutes at peak travel times and every 15 minutes during non-peak hours. The First Coast Flyer boasts such amenities as complimentary WiFi, and stations feature benches, bike racks, and display kiosks with real-time arrival information. Downtown stations and Park-and-Ride lots will offer ticket vending machines to allow riders to load their STAR card prior to boarding.
JTA is reaching out to unique and popular businesses both large and small along system routes. Ridership-building promotions are in the works where businesses can make the most of the opportunities offered by JTA.
“They [busses] go places people want them to go,” says Rassler, who is working to identify prime businesses and other popular destinations to highlight the new system. “This is not the same bus system your parents rode.”