ANJ Investigates

INVESTIGATES: ‘Industry standards:’ Some JTA buses considered on-time even when late

Action News Jax Investigates has uncovered significant delays with city buses.

We looked through four years of data from the Jacksonville Transportation Authority and found the agency is failing to meet some of its own on-time goals.

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The No. 1 North Main is a route that stretches all the way from JTA headquarters in LaVilla to Florida State College at Jacksonville - Downtown, as well as Jacksonville International Airport.

It has JTA’s highest average ridership, with some days seeing more than 1,500 customers.

NOT MEETING THEIR GOAL

Our investigation uncovered hundreds of buses run late everyday all over Jacksonville, sometimes about 25 percent of the time in a given month, including the No. 1 North Main -- but it could be far more.

JTA told us based on industry standards, a bus is only considered late when it’s delayed six minutes or more.

We pulled times for the No. 1 on one random day: August 23, 2022.

On-time:       23  times

Late:             11  times

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JTA’s on-time goal is 82%, but our review found on this day, only 68% of the time buses were on-time.

JTA Chief Operating Officer Charles Frazier told us higher gas prices has led to a higher number of people riding the bus.

“We’ve been struggling a little bit because we have had an increase in ridership,” Frazier said.

Frazier also said the agency does not have enough drivers with double the normal amount of openings.

“We are short 60 full-time operators,” Frazier said.

$3M NEW APP

Now, JTA is spending millions of dollars to make bus rides a smoother experience for thousands of people who rely on buses every day.

That’s good news to Cynthia Gardner. She rides the bus every day.

“I have to go to work,” she said. “Sometimes it’s late, sometimes it’s on time.”

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JTA recently signed a contract with a company called, Moovit. They are spending up to $3 million to launch one new app to replace four outdated apps the agency currently uses.

It will provide real-time data if a bus is running early or late and by how many minutes, just like an Uber or Lyft.

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“We would like to do better, get people there on time and get them there safely,” Frazier said.

Especially since riders spend so much time commuting.

In 2020, Moovit conducted a global public transport report in 14 U.S. cities (not including Jacksonville) for buses, trains and subways.

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The conclusion? The average daily commute time for riders ranged from 43 minutes in Pittsburgh to 90 minutes in Portland.

As for Gardner, the No. 1 isn’t number one this day as she stands and waits, and the app can’t come soon enough.

“I wait for the next bus,” Gardner said.

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“How long is that going to be?” Action News Jax’s Ben Becker asked.

“I don’t know. They don’t tell you none of that,” she replied.

JTA said the new app will be released in late October.

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