Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Riverside Trolley Gets High Marks from Riders and Drivers; Midday Service Goes from the Landing to Five Points and Back

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Riverside Trolley Gets High Marks from Riders and Drivers; Midday Service Goes from the Landing to Five Points and Back

Article excerpt

Byline: MARY MARAGHY

Two Fidelity National Financial employees go out to lunch regularly using the Riverside Trolley, a midday transit service the Jacksonville Transportation Authority launched a year ago.

The guys were among several riders interviewed about the Jaguar-teal trolleys that loop every 10 minutes from The Jacksonville Landing to Riverside to Five Points from 10:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. weekdays.

"The trolley has our vote," Kent Waldrop of Fidelity said after a Japanese lunch at the Landing. "It's convenient. You don't have to search for, and pay for, parking. For a buck, round-trip, it's worth it."

His co-worker, Jim McClammy, sat across the aisle.

"Most people at Fidelity will say the same," McClammy said, nodding and sipping his after-lunch Starbucks coffee.

Riders said taking the trolley to and from lunch allows them to keep their personal vehicles parked in sometimes-hard-to-come-by spaces at the office lot. Others said it maximizes their lunch hour.

The Riverside Trolley service was launched in May 2008 at the request of businesspeople who wanted to access the Jacksonville Landing or Five Points at lunch time, said Mike Miller, director of external affairs for the transportation authority.

Cost is 50 cents per ride, $1 round trip. Though the economic slump has hurt some, ridership has been steady, with an average of 250 riders per day, according to authority records.

"I have loved it since it started," said rider Thom Gilbert, who was taking Firehouse Subs back to his office at Blue Cross Blue Shield. "You can go anywhere you want for lunch and without paying for parking."

The targeted service, Miller said, is an example of the transportation authority's efforts to be more market driven and to provide services that people want and will use often.

Meanwhile, riders and JTA drivers said the trolleys are far better than riding city buses.

"It [the trolley] has an urban feel to it. It is a totally different ambience," Miller said, adding that JTA drivers with the most seniority get first bid on the trolley routes.

One of the lucky ones is Dennis Murphy, who drives a Riverside Trolley on Mondays. …

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