Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

JTA to Give Up Buses to Stadium; Two Private Companies Say They Are Interested; Higher Fares Possible

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

JTA to Give Up Buses to Stadium; Two Private Companies Say They Are Interested; Higher Fares Possible

Article excerpt

Byline: LARRY HANNAN

The public transit agency that has been busing people to football games at Jacksonville Municipal Stadium since 1995 now says it will look for a private company to replace it.

And a federal agency said it is investigating whether the Jacksonville Transportation Authority should have provided the service last season.

Under a ruling that went into effect in April, JTA must cede control of the bus service to a private company even if that company charges higher fares. And JTA can only offer service to games if no private company wants to do it.

Earlier this week, JTA said no companies had come forward. Now, two have.

Annett Bus Lines and American Coach Lines, two Florida charters with offices in Jacksonville, say they are interested. But they said they would need more information before they could commit and stressed they might not have enough buses to do it on their own.

Neither could estimate how much they might charge in fares.

JTA said it would be surprised if anyone wanted to take over the service because private companies would lose money doing it, as JTA said it had every year.

But after the authority reviewed its 2008 books, spokesman Mike Miller said Wednesday that it made a $50,000 profit after losing $120,000 the year before.

It uses 80 to 100 buses per game.

Brian Annett, president of Annett Bus Lines, said his company would take the next couple of months to look into the feasibility of providing the service. His company, which operates all over Florida, has about 50 buses, he said, but he's not sure how many could be freed up for games.

It's possible that an effective bus service could use fewer buses than JTA now uses, Annett said.

Bill Gallup, director of sales and corporate accounts for American Coach Lines, said a private company should be running the bus service. …

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