The Future they Foresaw: Buses Until a Million Citizens


JACKSONVILLE, Fla.The following article, published in the Winter of 1967, describes the planning and opinions of Alan W. Voorhees report on Transportation. Voorhees plans were adopted by the city consequently, and this article gives insight into the DNA of transit planning for the past 50 years. Sometimes keen, sometimes alarmingly thickheaded, the report was nonetheless the cornerstone of all our policy since then. 

Whatever Happened to Those Wide Open Spaces?

In the last two issues of Jacksonville, articles on Area Planning attempted to update public knowledge of what has happened to our Jacksonville in the last 35 years.

We learned how a depression and then a fantastic growth during the war years shelved the Planning manuscripts. Like most communities, Jacksonville was so busy 'filling orders' to help new residents and industries become a part of our pleasant way of life, that little thought was given to formal planning of any kind. When planning was mentioned, nobody wanted to make waves.

That isn't true today in Jacksonville. Since 1961, when the Duval County Legislative Delegation and the Florida Legislature and the Florida Legislature passed a law setting up the Jacksonville Duval Area Planning Board, a gradual excitement about planning has built up until today (with Jacksonville assuming the role of Florida's largest city) more people are getting involved than ever before.

Their sights are not short, either. "We must be thinking 50 years ahead right now ---not 20 or 25 years" they declare. And they've enlisted help too.


Jacksonville is a major transportation center in the southeast. What can we do to improve transportation? Significant projections are made for ways of moving goods and people in the next 50 years.

Planning authority Alan W. Voorhees whose transportation consultant firm is in McLean, Va., is assigned to this phase of planning. Among his findings:

  • "All downtown areas in cities are shrinking. With only 20 to 25 percent of all people working in downtown, its function is shifting from manufacturing wholesaling and retailing toward the economic activities of management and finance."
  • "Because the big population growth is coming in the suburbs, most of our service oriented industry is attracted to secondary centers which spring up to serve these people.
  • "All this change results in a new concept of road patterns and modes of transportation. The highway into town has lost its importance."
  • "Today, Jacksonville people are making a total of a million trips a day in the area. Only 3% of these trips utilize mass transportation systems. A million more trips are made daily through the area. Traffic concentrates in the city's center, although only about 10% is destined for downtown. The rest is cross town traffic. This traffic pattern wastes time. We're going to do something about this." 
  • "Gridirons of roads are the most effective means of providing road service to homes. We'll see an interlinking of communities with cross town feeders to serve dispersed traffic patterns. The result will be less roads ad more open spaces."
  • "We're planning expressway expansions now. We're planning for several new expressways, both north and south to feed the potential development to the north and east of the downtown and we may provide two cross river systems as port and industrial expansion follows the river north and eastward."
  • "Also, we're suggesting an expressway just inside the Beaches development as a North South facility to prevent the number one problem which exists in the Broward Dade County areas and could develop at our shore."
  • "A by-pass rail system just outside of and to the west of I-295 to get big train movements outside the congested areas may be set up to serve the expected industrial development along our present system."
  • "As you can see, we are getting a marked change from today's traffic patterns."

Mass Transit Systems

  • Until we are at least 1,000,000 population (about 1990)...the bus system is the only way to move people at a reasonable cost. Right now we must concentrate on improving this system of bus transportation service, extending routes, stepping up frequency and greatly expanding direct cross town routes."
  • "Meantime for the next 20 years we can be thinking about reserving right of way for future systems. First we must crystallize planning. A right of way that looks good now might not look so good in terms of tomorrow's growth. A study now will result in better forecasting of traffic and a savings in rights of way acquisitions."
  • "Several needs are obvious, however. When appropriate, we ought to get a downtown to Beaches route and a connection to the new airport. We'll also need them along expressways as they are developed."
  • "In essence, we have tried to lay out a system of land, bus, rail, and air transportation that will move people fast, efficiently and economically and will at the same time serve land areas as they are developed," Voorhees concludes, "We believe you people are proud of your wide open spaces your serene vistas and your magnificent trees. Good planning now can save them for everybody's enjoyment."

Article and transcription by Stephen Dare