Long known as Jacksonville's white elephant, the JTA Skyway has a new accolade to add to it's list. According to American Public Transportation Association (APTA), over the last year, our own much maligned Skyway was the nation's fastest growing fixed mass transit system in terms of average weekday ridership over the first three quarters of 2012.
Top 10 Rail-based Mass Transit Systems by Ridership Growth in America
- > +100% JTA Skyway - Automated Guideway Transit (AGT) - 5,100 (daily passengers) - 2.5 miles (route length) - Jacksonville, FL (major city served)
- > +100% - The Tide - Light Rail Transit (LRT):6,700 - 7.4 miles - Norfolk, VA
- +33.70% - RTA Trolley - Streetcar - 4,900 - 6.7 miles - Memphis, TN
- +19.65% - UTA TRAX - LRT - 56,900 - 35.3 miles - Salt Lake City, UT
- +15.62% - Capital MetroRail - Commuter rail - 1,700 - 32 miles - Austin, TX
- +13.66% - Los Angeles County Metro Rail - LRT - 200,300 - 70.4 miles - Los Angeles, CA
- +13.48% - The T - LRT - 28,400 - 26.2 miles - Pittsburgh, PA
- +12.34% - Caltrain - Commuter rail - 48,400 - 77 miles - San Francisco/San Jose, CA
- +11.15% - Central Line and South Lake Union Streetcar - LRT/Streetcar - 31,721 - 16.9 miles - Seattle, WA
- +10.80% - RTA Rapid Transit - Heavy Rail Transit (HRT) --,--- - 19 miles - Cleveland, OH
Want More Growth? Try Metro Jacksonville's Ultimate "No-Frills" Solution
1. Eliminate Bus Operations Downtown
2. Integrate Transportation with Downtown Development Plans
3. Sublease Existing Station Floor Area
4. Station Naming Rights, Train Wrapping & Advertising As Revenue Generator
Want to really drive up the Skyway's usage? Start focusing on its connectivity with nearby future downtown development, such as Brooklyn's 200 Riverside and Riverside Place.
So after two decades in operation, averaging only 1,700 riders per day, our Skyway became a nation wide laughing stock. In less than a year after making it free fare and eliminating several duplicate bus routes, ridership increases +100%.
One could argue that this is a text book example of doing more with less by simply better utilizing the assets and infrastructure we already have in our possession. Perhaps the Skyway isn't the problem we make it out to be. Instead could Jacksonville's tradition of not being highly receptive to innovation and creativity be the culprit holding it back?
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Article by Ennis Davis.
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