JTA launches First Coast Flyer Red Line in Jacksonville

New, 18.5-mile route from downtown to beaches just 1 of several changes

By Zachery Lashway - Reporter/anchor, Crystal Moyer - Traffic/reporter

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - The Jacksonville Transportation Authority kicked off its First Coast Flyer Bus Rapid Transit Red Line system Monday.

The 18.5-mile route will take people from downtown Jacksonville to the beaches using Arlington Expressway, Southside Boulevard and Beach Boulevard.

The first bus pulled out of Rosa Parks Transit Station on Monday, bursting through a banner as it began service to provide riders with more options with their routes. The new route replaces the Beaches Shuttles and stops about every mile, with 10-minute frequency during peak hours.

The Red Line buses are expected to make about 1,800 stops a day, and they also come with new technology. Digital boards have real-time information on bus routes, weather and news.

Along with new buses, JTA hired 33 additional drivers to cover the expanded route. The project cost more than $30 million -- half of which was covered by federal funding.

Federal Transit Administrator K. Jane Williams praised CEO Nat Ford and JTA for thinking outside the box when it comes to transportation.

"He's really talked about mobility and not mode and using innovation to connect people to greater opportunities,” Williams said.

Rides are free for the first week of service. After the free trial, the Red Line will cost riders $1.50 per trip or $4 for a day pass. 

Many people said they are excited about this change and several other improvements JTA is making in Jacksonville.

"It’s very convenient, very convenient," said a bus rider. 

"I think it’s a good way of them showing they are upgrading, willing to work with the citizens," said another rider.

The new line will make fewer stops and reduce wait times, which many bus riders are excited about.

"I think it is awesome. I think it is great. Just great.  Anything to add to this bus system to make it work smoother is great," said a rider.

JTA is also launching the Nassau Express Select. It will operate two trips in the morning and three in the afternoon Monday through Friday between Yulee and the Rosa Parks Transit Station.

JTA has given riders another new option called ReadiRide. It's like many ride-sharing services where people can request a ride by calling to make a reservation.

ReadiRide costs $2 per person, per trip. If a rider is transferring to or from a JTA bus stop, it costs just 50 cents.

This service operates Monday through Saturday in the Beaches, Highlands, Northside, Southeast and Southwest areas of Jacksonville.

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