Guest editorial and video by Scott Gann

Jacksonville is leading the charge for autonomous vehicles, working to pilot their Ultimate Urban Circulator downtown in the coming years. The renderings are reminiscent of Tron, but can this technology truly transform the future of mobility in a revitalizing urban core? There are plenty of elements to this project concerning the perceived failure of the previous system, the unprecedented territory that comes with autonomous vehicles, and the conditions of the city as it continues to redevelop. Check out this video that covers the topic, and feel free to share your thoughts!

The JTA Skyway in 1989 (The Jaxson Magazine)

In this video I walk through how Jacksonville is transitioning the old Skyway system into the new Ultimate Urban Circulator, an autonomous vehicle transit system for downtown. I initially saw the marketing for this project back in 2016. And I was blessed to have worked on some of the preliminary research for the project through a 2019 internship with the engineering firm RS&H. Shoutout to everybody there for a great experience!

The Skyway is currently an autonomous people mover, or a train running along two and a half miles of track through downtown. A common misconception is that the train was supposed to reach all of the neighborhoods and suburbs around the largest city in the contiguous US. But the Skyway was always designed to move people around downtown since its opening in 1989.

A map of the original proposed Skyway system compared to the lines that were actually built (The Jaxson Magazine)

The idea is that people can park on the outskirts of the urban core, like in the Kings Ave parking garage, or take transit downtown to the new Jacksonville Regional Transportation Center. From there riders would hop on the Skyway to get the rest of the way to wherever they need to go. The Skyway is designed to be what’s called a “first and last mile” form of transportation, where it helps move people in the first and last miles of their trips. [not noted in the video – downtown residents are also a significant part of the intended ridership, moving around the urban core without the need for a car].

The Jacksonville Regional Transportation Center (JTA)