JTA making routes, stops, service improvements

Changes to take effect Dec. 1

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Soon you'll notice changes to the Jacksonville Transportation Authority bus system. JTA has just more than 90 days to reshape it.

JTA approved the redesign of 30 fixed bus routes to make them faster, more direct and better tailored to the people they serve.

Bus routes will operate with 15-, 30- and 60-minute intervals at more consistently spaced bus stops. The stops will be spaced every eighth of a mile, and every bus route will be renamed.

Bus service mostly will be directed away from neighborhood roads and onto major streets. Bus driver uniforms will be changed, while the buses themselves will adopt a more uniform color scheme.

Also, a real-time passenger information system will allow passengers to check where buses are via their smartphones or laptops.

Twenty-two routes will run after 11 p.m. and 16 others after midnight.

Routes will be coordinated so riders don't have to transfer. And there will also be more weekend service.

The initiative began 20 months ago with a community survey, bus route studies, public meetings and discussions.

The efficiencies are supposed to save money.

"The main thing is the feedback we got from the community, from the customers, potential customers and the stakeholders throughout the area was, we really need to change the system to make it more attractive, build ridership and make it the foundation a conversation for building a regional transit system," said Brad Thoburn, JTA vice president of long range planning and system development.

Riders like Tanishia Hendricks are looking forward to the changes.

"Currently, I have to leave two hours early in order to get to work on time, but then I'm at work an hour early," Hendricks said. "I don't get a lot of extra sleep and my day revolves around making sure I get to the bus on time, because if I miss the bus, that's it. I have to wait another 30 minuntes to an hour."

The changes are set to be made on Dec. 1.

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