Skyway ridership doubles with free fare

JTA implements test for 3 months


JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – It's been a week since the Jacksonville Transportation Authority stopped charging riders to use the Skyway. Since then, ridership has nearly doubled on the downtown system.

Alan Boree is one of those new riders and said the free fare is enticing.

"I enjoyed it," he said. "Maybe people will ride it more often."

Boree said he will probably ride it again sometime in the next three months. That's how long JTA plans to run the test of not charging to ride the Skyway.

JTA said the first week is very promising. Ridership is up 100 percent.

Before it was free, 1,700 people rode the Skyway a day, on average. Last Monday was the first free day and JTA saw a big increase, with 3,813 people riding the Skyway. There were slightly less on Tuesday, with 3,751 riding.

JTA began the free service after a Channel 4 investigation found it wasn't hard to catch people skipping out on fares. Channel 4 also highlighted broken equipment and lack of maintenance.

JTA began a crackdown and said equipment replacement was just too expensive. It then announced as part of a test it will run the Skyway free for three months.

JTA said it's changing over to a new payment system, and at the end of April it will decided if the system will remain free or go back to charging a fare.

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