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Bus rider: ‘It's really convenient for me'

First Coast Flyer provides express service

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JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Jacksonville Transportation Authority riders will have a new experience Monday morning as the First Coast Flyer begins offering express service from downtown to the north and northwest parts of Jacksonville.

The new First Coast Flyer provides express service between Lem Turner Road at I-295, and downtown, making fewer stops along the way.

“We’re on a journey to bring to Jacksonville world class public transportation. This is the next step in that journey,” said Nathaniel Ford, JTA's chief executive officer. “We're launching the First Coast Flyer which will eventually be the largest bus rapid transit network in the southeast part of the country.”

The buses will have a limited number of stops so people will be able to get to places like universities, colleges, hospitals and shopping areas much faster. These buses will also offer free Wi-Fi for passengers. 

“It’s really convenient for me,” said Stan Clark, a bus rider who takes the bus to work. “It cuts off the other stops in between. With the Wi-Fi on the bus, I’ll probably ride the bus longer - ride downtown just to use the Internet.”

JTA is also unveiling a new free mobile app – “MY JTA” that will allow people to buy tickets. As well as people can also use the “NEXT BUS” APP to find bus schedules and --  see when their bus will arrive – in real time.

The initial routes go into the northwest portion of town, but future routes will run on the Westside, the Southside, and on the beaches. The project will be complete in 2019.

‘It should bring more corporate people onto the bus system,” said Corey Goodwin who rides the bus to the veterans hospital among other places. “It’s great; you have the opportunity to get where you need to get as fast as you can.”

There will be eight new stations between downtown, Golfair Boulevard and Lem Turner Road, extending out to Interstate 295.

“It’s important that we have a robust, world class transit system,” said Ford. “We listened to our customers. They wanted a faster system that get them from point A to point B directly; and that’s what we’re doing.”

The stops will include symbols that display real-time bus location and pickup times.

During peak hours, there will be pickups every 10 minutes or every 15 minutes during off-peak hours at these stations.

Regular bus routes will also make stops at First Coast Flyer stations.

Other developments are in the works including new buses that run on compressed natural gas, a new bus yard for fill-ups for CNG, an alternative to gasoline, and a new Park-and-Ride lot.

Stops in the Northside and Northwest Jacksonville include the VA Clinic, UF Health, the Gateway Town Center, and the Walmart at Lem Turner at I-295.

The U.S. Department of Transportation Federal Transit Administration announced Monday that JTA was awarded a $19.1 million grant to be used for the First Coast Flyer Southeast Corridor Project.

The 11.1 mile Southeast Corridor is the third segment of a five-phased First Coast Flyer system planned for the Jacksonville area.