Thursday, March 17, 2011

Mayoral candidates call for closing Jacksonville Skyway, but lack power to do it

Mike Hogan and Rick Mullaney have advocated getting rid of the Skyway, or at least shutting it down, in recent campaign appearances. But the 2.5-mile downtown people-mover, long derided for not going anywhere, is controlled by the Jacksonville Transportation Authority, not by City Hall.

Despite its name, JTA is a state agency that doesn't have to do what the city says. Money to operate the Skyway comes primarily from sales and gas tax revenue, federal funding and a small amount of fare money.

"It is true," said JTA Executive Director Michael Blaylock, "that the city has nothing to do with the Skyway."

By almost any measure, the Skyway has been a disaster. When it was built 20 years ago, JTA promised 100,000 riders per month but, in 2010, ridership was a third of that.

The system is also a huge money-loser. In 2010, it cost $5 million to operate it, but fares and parking revenue generated only $345,452.

Shutting down the Skyway could also have other financial implications. JTA said it would have to reimburse the federal government around $90 million if the Skyway is torn down because it paid the majority of costs to build it.

No comments:

Post a Comment