Today was not just the first Saturday following the official start of summer, but the First Skyway Saturday from Jacksonville’s Transportation Authority.
A day highlighting the city’s free public transportation system. The system is operating Saturday, June 22, from 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. This marks the system's 30th year in service.
JTA is trying to offer riders a new perspective on Downtown Jacksonville while enjoying free rides to and from the events going on in the area.
“We’re from Philadelphia, but we wanted to see what the public transportation looked like,” Jeannie and Russ Koeler said.
Jeannie and Russ Koeler have been in Jacksonville for about three years. This their first time using the free Skyway service.
“It don’t go far enough, it don’t go down to the stadium and it don’t reach out further, it’s just short,” Russ Koeler said.
JTA says there’s good news for those like Russ and Jeannie wanting more stops.
Currently, the trains that arrive every few minutes sit above the city. The Jacksonville Transportation Authority is currently undertaking a ten-mile ground level expansion known as the Bay Street Innovation.
Part of a 35 to 50 million dollar project. In the next three years, you could see up to 15 autonomous vehicles on the track in place of these trains. Plans include a loop around the sports complex and TIAA bank. A sight the Koeler’s would have welcomed today.
“Right now you guys are on for the ride, but aren’t seeing much and that was the point of the free ride to see the growth what was happening here.”
JTA adds they’ve received about $12.5 million in federal grants to go towards the expansion, but until then, encourage people to use this free service to help check out the area business rather than driving.
If you didn’t find time to make it out today, don’t worry, they’ll be more than just this weekend to highlight this, but there are specific focuses on certain Saturdays throughout the month.