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Jax Daily Record Wednesday, Jun. 24, 202003:10 PM EST

JTA: Jacksonville Regional Transportation Center was year’s ‘bold accomplishment’

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“We’re not slowing down,” says CEO Nathaniel Ford.
by: Max Marbut Associate Editor

Nathaniel Ford, CEO of the Jacksonville Transportation Authority, presented the authority’s 2019-20 report on June 24 in a virtual meeting with board members, elected officials and the media.

“It’s important to continue our annual tradition,” Ford said.

The major accomplishment in the past year was opening the Jacksonville Regional Transportation Center in LaVilla, he said.

The facility near the Prime Osborn Convention Center combines JTA’s administrative offices and a transit hub for fixed bus routes and the Skyway.

“It’s a bold accomplishment,” Ford said.

Busses line up at the new Jacksonville Regional Transportation Center.

On the financial side, Ford said JTA retained its AA bond rating from Standard & Poor’s.

System revenue was $1.2 million above the budget and expenses were $3.2 million below budget projections, he said.

Federal and state grants for transportation projects totaled more than $200 million in the past five years. In the 2019 fiscal year, $6.3 million was granted for the St. Johns River Ferry; $17 million was received to improve rail traffic; and $2 million was granted for studies.

The system provided 11 million passenger trips, including 9.8 million trips on the fixed-route system.

More than 800,000 people used the Skyway and the ferry logged 423,000 customers, Ford said.

He said the authority invested $600,000 to install protective barriers for bus operators to protect them from potential attack and COVID-19.

JTA says it will continue to develop and expand the Ultimate Urban Circulator autonomous vehicle program.

Regional service Monday-Friday was added between Downtown and hubs in Nassau and Clay counties with further expansion to St. Johns and Baker counties planned to debut in July.

The authority completed the $23 million Kernan Boulevard improvement project six months ahead of schedule, along with improvements along Girvin Road.

Ford said JTA will further develop and expand the Ultimate Urban Circulator autonomous vehicle program, aided by a $12.5 million federal transportation grant, Ford said.

Infrastructure projects set to begin soon include the expansion of Collins Road in West Jacksonville and construction of a roundabout at Merrill Road and University Boulevard at the entrance to Jacksonville University.

Ford said JTA remains committed to helping the community move.

“We’re not slowing down. We will continue to lead and welcome new strategies,” he said.

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