by: Amanda Warford Updated:JACKSONVILLE, Fla. —
Jacksonville Transportation Authority buses move 40,000 riders through the city every day, but officials say changes are needed to increase that number.
"Jacksonville has some of the nicest busses compared to Orlando and Miami," said Jeremiah Morma, who rides everyday, "but the system isn't rider friendly."
"It gets me where I need to go," added Ja'Mere Brown, "but it's not super convenient."
For 30 years, JTA has been piecing the current bus system together, but Brad Thoburn, JTA's vice president of Long-Range Planning and System Development, said it’s still out of date, somewhat unorganized and not keeping up with area growth.
"In terms of attracting riders, we've fallen behind and that's what we're trying to fix," he told Action News. At a community meeting Monday, poor routes, frequency, and timing were the top complaints. Compared with many other cities, Jacksonville lacks in multiple areas, and Thoburn said it’s time for a major overhaul.
"If it's not quick and reliable, it's something people will choose not to use."
At the end of November, JTA will launch a complete redesign called Route Optimization, extending hours and expanding routes to cover frequent stops over 100 miles of roadway. The goal is to increase ridership to 70,000 people a day at little to no cost, and more riders means more revenue.
"The operational cost is minimal. We're really just making better use of the resources that we have already put out in the street," said Thoburn.
At the same time, JTA plans to roll out a passenger information system that will allow riders to track buses from their smartphones. That system is being paid for by a federal grant.
The JTA board will be presented with a final plan at their August meeting. Until then, officials continue to make changes based on public feedback.
Visit JTA's website to review the plan presentation and a schedule of public meetings.