24 May, 2008

Commuter Rail in Jacksonville Past? You Bet! Number One In The State!


Since 1912 - Reactivated in 2008

This is the massive system we junked in favor of more "flexible modern buses." Shortly after the buy out by National City Lines, Motor Transit Company, the City was "gifted" with becoming the hub of a new General Motors Distribution Center. While the buses might have seemed like a great idea at the time, they added fuel to our sprawl. No longer would development be confined to easy commuter rail routes (Yes, streetcars and light rail are "Forms" of commuter rail but NOT what is usually ment by the term). The routes could be altered on a whim, and thus the heavy investment of livable spaces never developed along them. Autos took control and suddenly as if by magic, all of the National City Properties went bankrupt one by one to be pawned off on the Cities and taxpayers. Amazing that today, we are fighting those same agencys to see the error of their ways. Sadly, many efforts have fallen on deaf ears, "Skyways" and "BRT" or "Hovercraft" would save us. Did you know the Automobile and it's sister vehicles were NOT AMERICAN by invention and neither was the ship or the monorail? FACT! The Streetcar and Interurban train are our own unique creation and gift to the world. Won't you join me in leading the charge in bringing them home again!

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The arguments rage to this date, "Should have never been built," "waste of taxpayer money," "Doesn't go anywhere," "Nobody rides it..." etc. Bottom line is we have it, and it is finally showing signs of life. Simple extensions to the Stadium, San Marco, and the area of Blue Cross in North Riverside would turn this little train around. Addition of Park and Ride garages and multimodal transit terminals at the end points would bring on the crowds. The video must have been shot on a Sunday Morning, as downtown is certainly as packed with life as any other major City on weekdays. Jacksonville is a city of Bikes, joggers, walkers, buses and cars, one almost wonders how the photographer managed to find this quiet moment.

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