Jacksonville's Automated Skyway Express Downtown Peoplemover

photo of vehicle The Jacksonville (Florida) Automated Skyway Express, or "Skyway" has evolved after many years of study by both citizens and professional transportation planners. The concept of a downtown peoplemover was originated in the early 1970's as part of a comprehensive mobility plan. The first study was completed by the Florida Department of Transportation and the planning department of the City of Jacksonville. In 1977, these two agencies brought the project to the Jacksonville Transportation Authority (JTA) for continued development and implementation. Following completion of an 18-month feasibility study, Jacksonville was selected by the federal Urban Mass Transit Administration as one of seven cities to participate in the nationwide Downtown Peoplemover Program. The plan called for the construction of a 2.5 mile Phase I system ( see map of routes and station locations). Other examples of operating downtown people mover systems are those in Miami and Detroit .

Work on the initial 0.7 mile Phase I-A segment was begun in 1984. It had only three stations (Terminal, Jefferson and Central). This work was completed in 1989 and two vehicles operating in a double shuttle configuration were placed in service. The technology used was the French MATRA system.

Implementation of the full 2.5 mile Phase I system began in 1992. Negotiations with MATRA to provide systems for the new extensions were not successful. In October of 1994, a new supplier - the Bombardier Corporation - was awarded the contract for the new extensions as well as the job of replacing the MATRA technology that was operating on Phase I-A. Bombardier is supplying a version of its UM III monorail vehicles which are like those currently in use at the Tampa International Airport in Florida. These new vehicles  operate on a monorail beam, 34 inches (86.4 cm) wide and 28 inches (71.1 cm) deep. These beams rest on a guideway that is 11 feet (3.35 m) wide and is constructed with a 30-inch (76.2) high parapet wall on each side to reduce noise, aid drainage and provide for personnel protection.

All stations are 120 (36.6 m) long and designed to accommodate anywhere from a two to a six car train consist. Station platform widths are typically 28 feet (8.5 m) but may be wider at the three multimodal stations ( see the photo of the intermodal Florida Community College at Jackson (FCCJ) station). There are 18 bus bays in this station as it is Jacksonville's major bus transit transfer point. It has won awards for its design and is regarded as a state-of-the-art intermodal transit station. Another 8 excellent photos taken by Jon Bell are also available.

The maximum waiting time for vehicles has been set at 180 seconds or three minutes. The maximum line capacity is 3,600 persons per hour per lane without need to replace system components. As can be observed on the system map, the point of confluence of the primary routes, the Y-junction switch, presents a significant operation constraint on the system limiting the number of trains that can be operated on the system at any one time.

Construction of the final phase of the 2.5 mile Phase I system was completed in 1999. More detail is provided at the JTA website.

According to an ABC news report in July, 2002, the system was only carrying 3,000 riders per day, far fewer than was projected. Skyway revenues were reported to be $513, 694 in FY 2001 but expenses were $3.5 million. All eight stops are now in operation. The full system was opened to the public in November 2000. Skyway spokespersons blamed the poor downtown economy for the low ridership achieved so far, but argued that it would prove to be a success in the future.  As of 2004, fares were 35 cents for individual rides, 10 cents for elderly riders.

More detailed information about this system can be obtained from C. Charles Pineda, Skyway Project Manager, Jacksonville Transportation Authority, P.O. Drawer "O", 100 N. Myrtle Avenue, Jacksonville, Florida 32202. Ph: 904-630-3181, Fax: 904-630-3166. Most of the information for this page was derived from a paper titled "System Replacement for the Jackson Automated Skyway Express, Phase 1-A" presented at the 6th International Conference on Automated Peoplemovers held in Las Vegas, Nevada, in April of 1997. It is included in the Proceedings from this conference,  available (in print form)   from the American Society of Civil Engineers.

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Last modified: June 29, 2008