The Jacksonville Transportation Authority unveiled a bronze plaque Wednesday at the Rosa Parks Bus Transit Station to commemorate the civil rights activist.
At the same time, JTA announced most of the routes at the Rosa Park station will transition to the new Jacksonville Regional Transportation Center in LaVilla that is scheduled to open March 30, across from the Prime Osborn Convention Center.
“Like our city has grown over the years, the demand for JTA services have also increased,” said JTA CEO Nathaniel Ford at a news conference at the Rosa Parks station. “Here in 2020, it’s clear that this facility has been outgrown by the demand of services.”
Construction is wrapping up at the new station at 1111 W. Forsyth Street, just east of Interstate-95.
It will feature 21 bus bays along one single platform. Officials said that will be crucial for the safety of riders.
“At Rosa Parks, our customers actually have to cross in front of buses to actually make their transfers,” Ford said. “We want to make sure we eliminate that need by having one single bus bay.”
The Rosa Parks station will still operate four bus routes - the 10, 19, 86 and the red line of the First Coast Flyer - along with the Jacksonville Skyway.
The remaining bus routes will continue running through the west side of the Rosa Parks terminal, while the east side of the terminal will begin a decommissioning process and prepare for “transit-oriented development.”
“Right now our real estate team is already hard at work soliciting proposals to develop the eastern side of the station,” Ford said. “We can develop a mixed-use community, which has retail, housing, and office space.”
Some bus riders aren’t happy about the changes.
“I just think it’s more inconvenient for people to walk that way, you know what I’m saying?” said bus patron Antoine Johnson. “Some people don’t even have a way to get down there.”
Johnson said instead of spending money on a new station, he would’ve preferred more security at the Rosa Parks station or more consistently timed bus routes.
“This is a major city,” Johnson said. “For this to be a major city, the transportation is poor.”
According to a report from WJCT news partner News4Jax, JTA bus driver unions are asking the new station to provide two Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office deputies at all times.
But Ford said private security and camera systems in the new facility will provide enough protection, as well as save JTA some money.
“I don't know if the union leadership ever sat down with our security personnel and actually walked through
what that plan is,” said Ford. “And frankly, in this day and age, we don't want to make to public some of the security strategies that we're putting in place.”
Ford said JSO officers used at the station are paid time and a half.
During Wednesday’s press conference, JTA also took time to honor several local African American civil rights activists along with Parks:
- James Weldon Johnson - Author
- John Rosamond Johnson - Composer, singer
- Sallye B. Mathis - Teacher and one of the first two African American women elected to Jacksonville’s City Council
- Mary Singleton - Teacher and one of the first two African American women elected to Jacksonville’s City Council
- A. Philip Randolph - Labor unionist
“All of these icons had one thing in common,” said JTA Board Chairman Kevin Holzendorf. “They wanted to see the advancement of all races. They fought for equal representation and for the rights to achieve their dreams. Their contributions to our nation is taught in our schools, and their names adorn important buildings, roads and transit stations, like the one here.”
Sky Lebron can be reached at email@example.com, 904-358-6319 or on Twitter at @SkylerLebron.