Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Bus Fares Rising; Routes to Expand

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Bus Fares Rising; Routes to Expand

Article excerpt

Trying to catch up with Duval County's quick growth, the

Jacksonville Transportation Authority plans to step up bus

service in dozens of neighborhoods.

It also plans to make riders pay 15 cents more, increasing the

fares on most buses from 60 cents to 75 cents by October.

JTA officials estimate that riders use the bus system about

30,000 times a day.

The route changes are the first large-scale revision to bus

service in more than a decade, when many Jacksonville

neighborhoods have grown dramatically. The changes involve 45

routes and would be phased in over five years, gradually adding

$5 million to the JTA's annual bus budget.

The changes are designed for people like Preston Paris, who

calls the current service "the poorest I've seen."

"If you're going to change the fare, you need to provide more

service where people need it," he said.

A recent college graduate with no car, Paris takes the bus from

his Northside home to downtown, then transfers to get to a

customer service job on the Southside. His boss talked about

making him a supervisor, Paris said, but that would be on an

evening shift, and his bus doesn't run then.

"I don't understand the reasoning behind them [the schedules],"

he said.

The city's bus service is simply outdated in some areas, said

Michael Blaylock, the JTA's director of mass transit. Some big

suburban office complexes, such as Deerwood Park, didn't exist

when many of the current bus routes were designed.

"A lot in Jacksonville has changed in 10 years," Blaylock said.

"The way Jacksonville is growing, we can no longer operate from

a fixed mentality."

By 2003, Blaylock's office wants to increase the number of buses

operating on 28 of the JTA's 61 bus lines. The agency also wants

to add 17 new routes.

The buildup would mean most routes would have bus service at

least every 30 minutes during their busiest times, and at least

once an hour the rest of the day.

Right now, people can wait 90 minutes or longer if they miss

the bus, said Donna Fonder, who lives downtown and travels to

the San Pablo area to shop at Wal-Mart. …

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