Metros in the United States: Jacksonville Skyway

Jacksonville is an american city located in the state of Florida. It has a population that surpasses a million habitants in its metropolitan area. At some point, it was popular for welcoming luxury tourism at the beginning of the 20th century.

The city was stricken by different catastrophes through the 1900s that destroyed parts of the town. In the following decades, Jacksonville was rebuilt becoming the largest metropolis of the union, with approximately 2260 Km2.

Great financial firms were established in the downtown area, so traffic congestion became frequent in said area. In 1972 the construction of a mass transportation system was proposed to solve the problem and finally materialized with the construction of the Jacksonville Skyway.

The Jacksonville Skyway is a transportation system integrated by a monorail that serves the downtown. It is operated by the Jacksonville Transportation Authority (JTA). It has eight stations, 4 Kms of track, and serves approximately 5000 users a day.

History

The Project was proposed in 1972 and approved in 1976, however, work didn’t start on it until 1987. Two years later, three stations were inaugurated in the east- west direction of the downtown. Between 1992 and 1995 the north- south route was added to the framework, and the already existing route was upgraded by adding more modern monorails. In 1996 the Jacksonville Skyway was closed until December 1997, due to new upgrades. In the year 2000 three new routes were inaugurated, to extend the south part even further.

JTA Skyway train

Routes and Stations

Even though it is small, the Jacksonville Skyway monorail service has two tracks in its 4 kms of total route. It runs on an elevated two-way track. The first one runs through the areas of Downtown Core and La Villa. The second one runs through Johns River Avenue on the Southbank.

The trains are comprised of two automated cars, even though they have the capacity for up to six cars. They travel at a speed of 56 km/h powered by a third electrified car, which powers both tracks, the Northbank Line and the Southbank Line.

The system’s commercial stations are:

Rosa Parks Transit Station

It was built in 1997. It functions as a bus station and a stop for the Jacksonville Skyway, for the Northbank line as well as the Southbank line. It is part of the monorail’s north-south route. Its location is between Hogan Street and State Street and allows direct access to the state university.

Hemming Park Station

It began its operations in December 1997, also serving the north-south route. In it, both lines of the monorail provide service. It is located on Hogan Street. Its practical location connects with Hemming park just outside the main exit. City Hall is a few meters away from the station.

Central Station

Opened in 1989, it was one the first three stations of the Jacksonville Skyway. Its design was conceived to accommodate future expansions both in the north-south direction as well as the east-west direction, since it services both lines. It is located on Bay Street between Pearl and Julia streets, right in the city’s Downtown. It connects with bus lines and with Jacksonville’s aquatic taxies services, Jacksonville Water Taxi.

Jefferson Station

It was founded in 1989. It was one of the first three stations of the Jacksonville Skyway system. It’s located on Bay street west to Jefferson street. It is serviced only by the Northbank line.

Convention Center Station

Opened in 1989, it’s another of the first three manorail stations in the city. Its original name was Terminal Station, since in that place there used to be an old train station. It’s located on bay street, west of Jefferson street, in the La Villa neighborhood and it is serviced only by the Northbank line.

San Marco Station

It was opened in 1998. It is located on the corner of San Marco boulevard and Mary street, in the Southbank neighborhood. The location of this station makes it connect with Museum of Science and History and the beautiful fountain of friendship, Friendship Fountain Park. At the same time, it connects with Jacksonville’s water taxies and it is only serviced by the Southbank line.

Riverplace Station

It opened on November of the year 2000, five years after its construction. Its name was given because it is located next to Riverplace Tower, on the corner of Mary street and Flagler Avenue, in the Southbank neighborhood. It connects with Jacksonville Water Taxi services and it is serviced only by the Southbank line.

Kings Avenue Station

It’s been open since the year 2000. It’s located on Onyx street between Prudential Drive street and Louisa street. In its surroundings, it connects with various bus lines that provide services to the whole city. The area has a great variety of hotels for tourists. It is only serviced by the Southbank line.

Skyway Video

Fares and tickets

The Jacksonville Skyway monorail service is completely free. It doesn’t have any form of charge to users, since it is a system subsidized by the municipal hall. Its main source of financing comes from two parking lots: one in the Convention Center station and one in the Kings Avenue station, that allow both visitors and locals to park their cars with total safety inside their installations. They also have monthly plans, for those who don’t have their own parking spot in the place they reside.

Schedule

The working Schedule for the Skyway is from Monday to Friday, starting at 6 am till 9 pm. However, sometimes there is the possibility that the Jacksonville Skyway works on the weekends if there is a special event, not only organized by city hall, but also by private corporations. It is known as the Policy for extended hours, through which the monorail service at a specific time of the weekend can be requested.

Policy for extended hours

It can be touristic events of medium proportions, executive conferences, various presentations, among other planned events that require the service. The details they must have to get this service are the following:

  • 1. Description and specific location of the event in question.
  • 2. Time in which they need the service.
  • 3. It is necessary to include a summary of the event, as well as the places that Will be visited.
  • 4. To present an estimate of the number of users that Will use the monorail installations. Noting, as well, the number of people going to the event.
  • 5. Names of the hotels in which the attendees can stay after the event.
  • 6. Person in charge who can be contacted. Send name, address, phone number, fax and email.
  • 7. Make a brief description of how the organizers will promote the use of the Jacksonville Skyway to the attendees.

All of this information must be sent to: Manager of Skyway Operations
P.O. Drawer “O”
Jacksonville, FL 32203

It is also important to know the specific hours in which large groups Will move through the system with the purpose of letting the operators of the service know the average flux at that particular time. It must be considered that the Jacksonville Skyway works until midnight as a maximum, and also that the concession will not be awarded if the number of potential users is below a thousand people.

Connection to the airport

Unfortunately, the Jacksonville Skyway monorail doesn’t have a direct connection to the city’s airport, the Jacksonville International Airport. Nonetheless, it is connected to a bus route, which provides service to the terminal. In the last station, Rosa Parks Transit Station, that it’s served by both lines: Northbank line and Southbank line. One can find several bus lines that serves the whole city (18 in total). Among them is the number 1 route, North Main, that runs through most of the north part of the city, passing by Florida State College, until reaching the airport, leaving the passenger on the entrance.

In the opposite direction, from the Jacksonville International Airport to the city’s downtown, commuters must head for the main entrance, there they will find car rental services (specially recommended to visitors with the need to move constantly in the city, considering its dimensions and the limited public transportation). They will also find taxies and buses. On the buses visitors must pay attention, since several routes service the airport stops. They will have to wait for the line 1 North Main bus. It takes approximately 30 minutes to get to Rosa Parks Transit Station from the airport. The fare for the ride is only $1. At the monorail station, they can also find other bus routes that go through the entire city.

Rules in the SkyWay

  • Take into account the space that separates the car from the platform, with the purpose of avoiding injuries.
  • Avoid cutting lines when arriving at the monorail, take your place in the respective line and allow entrance to those who arrived first.
  • When the train arrives wait for the commuters to get off the car before entering, to avoid delays.
  • Keep a safe distance from the safety line of the platform.
  • Avoid getting off or on the car when the doors start to close.
  • Do not try to get off the monorail while it is moving.
  • When you’re inside the cars, anticipate to the arrival of the monorail to your destination and stand next to the doors to speed up the entry and exit of passengers.
  • There is no access to technical or service personnel installations, unless under previous authorization.
  • The entrance of users under the influence of alcohol or any other narcotics is forbidden, since it represents a threat to other passengers.
  • Entrance to the monorail with roller skates on, is not allowed.
  • Entrance to monorail with no shoes on is not allowed.
  • No carrying objects considered lethal without their respective protection.
  • No carrying large objects that obstruct the free circulation of passengers.
  • To listen music inside the monorail’s cars you will need earphones, the use of any music players in not allowed without earphones.
  • No screaming in the facilities without apparent reason, since it disturbs other passengers.
  • Bothering, harassing or disturbing passengers in any way, is strictly forbidden.
  • It is not allowed, without previous authorization, to distribute flyers in the facilities, both in the stations and the cars of the monorail.
  • No using the devices placed to respond to emergencies, unless under imminent danger.
  • No using more than one seat in the cars, unless required by your physical condition.
  • Begging is forbidden in the stations as well as the cars.
  • No smoking in the system’s facilities, or in the monorail’s cars.
  • Dogs must always a halter and leash.
  • Pets cannot use, under any circumstances, the seats of the cars.
  • Owners of pets will be responsible for any damages or grievances may cause.
  • The pets you choose to carry cannot represent a danger to other users, nor can they disturb other passengers in any way.

Tips and fun facts about the Jacksonville Skyway

  • 1) The names of the stations of the system refer to the nearest interest site.
  • 2) Unfortunately, you can’t carry bicycles in the facilities of the monorail, so you must anticipate this and find a place to park your bike.
  • 3) The system used to charge a fare until February 2012, when City Hall made the decision to make it temporarily free of charge. However, the measure is still in place.
  • 4) When there was an upgrade of the system in 1996, together with a change in the company in charge of providing the service, the monorail was completely shut down until 1997: a whole year without service.
  • 5) Monorails are totally automated, they are operated from a control center.
  • 6) By not having a conductor, the front and back windows offer panoramic views of the city during the ride.

Future expansions

In December 2015, the JTA announced plans to review the installations of the entire system due to functionality problems. The site www.jacksonville.com, a news website managed by the Florida Times-Union, published statements by the person in charge of the Jacksonville Skyway, citing: “the current vehicles providing service to the monorail are too old, their components and replacement parts are not available anymore… four of the ten vehicles are out of operations. With these statements, green light was given to renovate everything referring to rolling stock material, acquisition of new vehicles, expansion of the system, and tearing down old infrastructure. In December 2016, the replacement of the cars for completely autonomous vehicles was prioritized. In 2017 the Jacksonville Skyway will continue to operate, at least for another five years, due to the immense amount of critics that it has received since its opening.

Critics to the system

Since its opening the Jacksonville Skyway has been widely criticized for its poor performance. The JTA projected a monthly use of the service of 100.000 passengers. However, the number has never surpassed even a third of that amount. Meaning, less than 30.000 passengers a month. This failure is mainly attributed to the reduction of workers in the center of the city, together with the lack of connections with outlying neighborhoods and interconnection with other transportation systems. The monorail became a recurring subject in political discussions of the city, as its detractors consider it a useless service, besides representing a waste of money by city hall. In fact, in 2010 the Florida Times-Union rated it as “jacksonville’s joke to a generation”, for running 20 years with a low performance.

On the contrary side, the defenders of the monorail argue that the expansion of the service to other neighborhoods, and an investment to make the service attractive again in the center of Jacksonville, will make it a success.

In February 2012 when the Jacksonville Skyway became temporarily free of charge to implement a new more modern payment system, the number of users grew suddenly to 61%. By 2013 the monorail transported an average 4000 people a day thanks to the free pass, representing a resounding success to its defenders, so the policy remains in place in 2017. Driven by this upturn in its use, the director of the JTA, requested funds to the town hall to build a new station in the Brooklyn neighborhood, whose expansion is notable.

Tourist sites near the monorail

In Hemming Park station, users can enjoy the iconic Hemming Park. A park in the heart of the center of the city, across the City Hall, previously named Village Green. Founded in 1857 by Isaiah Hart himself (founder of the city), it is the oldest park in Jacksonville. Even though it’s small, it has different activities through every month. Every Friday since 10 am until 2 pm, there’s a farmers market; the first Wednesday of every month it becomes the center of the Jacksonville’s Downtown Art Walk, that promotes urban art. Likewise, the third Thursday of every month, there’s a night time market, known as the Jaxsons Night Market.

On a different side, on the Convention Center station, the station connects directly with the Prime F. Osborn III Convention Center, a convention center of over 260.000 square feet. In it there’s events almost monthly, some private and others aimed at the general audience.

In Central Station, there’s the Jacksonville Landing. Opened in 1987, it has up to 300 events a year, among the notable ones there’s the yearly lighting of the Christmas tree, fireworks on New Year’s Eve, kids parties, Saint Patrick’s day, the Jacksonville Jazz Festival, as well the 4th of July celebration. Every weekend there’s concerts of different musical genres like classic rock, oldies, contemporary, jazz, and top 40. There is also the Jacksonville Maritime Museum, it is a maritime museum that sets up in out of commission commercial shops, to show collections of scale size ships.

Metro map of Jacksonville

Metro map of Jacksonville Full resolution
Map via assets.jtafla.com
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Jacksonville Skyway map

  • Also Known As: Skyway
  • Passengers/Day
  • Fares: 0$
  • 24h operation: No
  • Air Conditioning: No
  • Walk between platforms: No
  • Driverless trains: Downtown monorail people mover (since 1989)
  • Screen Doors Platforms: No
  • Average Speed: 56km/h
  • Operator: Jacksonville Transportation Authority
  • $1
  • Jacksonville Metro Official Website
  • Tlf: +1 904-265-6999
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