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JTA’s CEO Raises Concerns About Proposed 2019 Federal Funding Cuts to Mass Transit

The First Coast Flyer
The First Coast Flyer

JTA CEO Nathaniel P. Ford Sr. is joining other transit chiefs around the country in expressing concern about proposed fiscal year 2019 budget cuts to the public transit Capital Investment Grant Program.

“The proposed budget cuts to public transit will affect accessibility for millions of Americans across the nation that rely on our bus and rail systems to get to and from jobs, healthcare and education,” said Ford in a statement Monday. He chairs the American Public Transportation Association (APTA), which is holding a legislative conference in Washington, March 18-20.

JTA is building out its First Coast Flyer system and was recently awarded a $16.9 million Capital Investment Grant from the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Federal Transit Administration (FTA) for its 18.5 Red Line rapid bus line, which will connect downtown with Jacksonville Beach when it opens in December.

The Southwest Corridor, which is the planned fourth leg in the First Coast Flyer, recently received a medium rating from the FTA, which positions it for federal funding, according to JTA spokeswoman Leigh Ann Rassler. 

Rassler told WJCT News the proposed federal cuts are concerning at the local level as well as the national level.

The Southwest Corridor – which is also referred to as the Purple Line – would provide service from downtown to Five Points, FSCJ Kent Campus and the Orange Park Mall, running along Blanding Boulevard.

When completed – assuming all funding is secured - the First Coast Flyer will cover 57 miles of destination travel, and will be the largest bus rapid transit system of its kind in the Southeast, according to JTA.

The North and Southeast Corridors of the First Coast Flyer are already up and running.

The entire project currently scheduled to be completed in 2019.

APTA President and CEO Paul P. Skoutelas is calling on Congress to reject the proposed transit cuts.

Bill Bortzfield can be reached at, 904-358-6349 or on Twitter at @BortzInJax.

Bill joined WJCT News in September of 2017 from The Florida Times-Union, where he served in a variety of multimedia journalism positions.