Are you ready to take a potential billion dollar bus ride, 30 years from now, that will be able to whisk you from downtown to Gateway Mall, via I-95 or blow down Bay Street at 40 miles an hour? Today Metro Jacksonville shares a few diagrams of what our potential RTS will resemble when our grandkids are old enough to drive.
When complete, the transit system will reach Gateway Mall to the North, Regency Mall to the East, Baymeadows to the South, and Wilson Blvd to the West. Once fully built out, bus rapid transit will cover 29 miles, most of which parallel existing railroads.
CONCEPTUAL DESIGN GRAPHICS
The bus rapid transit system will be a mixture of several forms of express bus solutions. The route from downtown through the Northside to Gateway Mall will parallel I-95. This illustration shows what a typical cross-section of BRT could resemble.
Some may wonder, how can a bus system cost so much to construct and take a generation to build. Quite simple actually. Although parts of the system will be integrated with regular vehicular traffic, meaning it's not really "rapid transit", the majority of right-of-way has to be purchased, then the actual highway for buses constructed on top of it. Certain sections, such as the SE line near I-95 and JTB, will be elevated just like the Skyway Express. That will take a lot of concrete, steel, and asphalt; materials that are not cheap. Just ask the Mayor about the sandbox known as the courthouse site.
This graphic illustrates what Phillips Highway could look like when everything is said and done. As stated earlier, parts of BRT will run on the same streets as cars. Nobody will doubt that bus only lanes will improve our transit times, but it's also important to remember that when highways clog up, there's a good chance the buses will get caught up in the mix.
In several cities, mass transit routes are planned to be integrated with potential transit oriented development sites and within walking distance of high density neighborhoods. According to a recent transit study in Denver in which the successes and failures of their routes over the past 10 years were discussed, it was noted that locating routes along expressways was a bad idea. It is also common knowledge in the transit world that most residents are only willing to walk 10 minutes to reach a transit stop and if there's no destination nearby, ridership will be non-existent. Unless something changes our BRT routes and station locations, we'll do what other cities now attempt to avoid. Someone should ask the question, "When I get dropped off at the off-ramp of I-95 and MLK Parkway, where do I go?". After all, there's only so many activities you can partake in after getting dropped of at the BP station on the corner of Phillips and Emerson.
BRT and Downtown
Ottawa is known to be the home of the most successful BRT system in the Americas. Many of the ideas and concepts our plan incorporates comes directly from the layout of this Canadian system. The above pictures show Ottawa's BRT lines running through downtown streets. These images should give you a good idea of what's in store for our central business district.
This aerial illustrates the path of the north/south BRT route in red. BRT stations are represented by white circles. One interesting thing that pops out in this graphic is how the proposed route makes the entire Southbank segment of the Skyway extraneous because it parallels the line, as well as provides stops within close proximity of Skyway stations.
This image illustrates the East/West downtown route. This configuration will have BRT buses running through the core along Bay and Forsyth Streets. To accommodate bus lanes, plans include eliminating parallel parking along these streets, clearing a path for buses to speed through downtown on their way to Arlington. Once again, its interesting to note how the line makes the Skyway's convention center leg just as useless as the Southbank portion.
For those into demolition, this system won't leave you hanging. Although JTA has plans for a massive transportation center 3 blocks to the west in LaVilla, BRT will have its own terminal where two large historic brick buildings now stand. Wonder what the Jacksonville Historical Society has to think about this?
Last but not least, this illustration serves as an example of what Bay & Forsyth Streets will look like, once the buses start running through the heart of town. An alternative option being tossed around shifts BRT over to Adams Street, which would then be closed off to regular traffic to serve as a BRT transit mall, an idea the effectively killed off most american city's downtown retail base back in the 1970s and 1980s. A downtown Ottawa street during rush hour. Get ready to catch the billion dollar bus.
Have a nice weekend.