CLAY COUNTY – Two new Jacksonville Transportation Authority bus lines in Clay County opened Monday, and for just $1, passengers were able to ride from one end of the county to another.
When the Board of County Commissioners cut ties with the Council on Aging, it led to months of speculation about the future of public transportation. The COA was providing public transportation in the county until it suffered through some financial problems.
A Blue JTA bus line took passengers to Green Cove Springs and Fleming Island, while a Red JTA bus line took them to Blanding Boulevard and Middleburg. Both buses will serve passengers to Orange Park.
“This is somewhat of a reduction [in bus routes], but the good thing is that we are providing some level of service beyond transportation disadvantaged that we started back in January,” JTA spokesperson Carl Weckenmann said.
The new routes picked up most of the majority of passengers that previously relied on the Council on Aging’s transportation and will not miss many stops, Weckenmann said. While most of the stops won’t be missed, there will be fewer overall trips, though.
Passengers can expect to pay $1a trip, with complimentary transfers between the bus lines. Children aged 6 or younger, seniors aged 60 or older and passengers with disabilities can expect to see a discounted rate of 50 cents per trip. These two bus lines will run Monday through Friday from 6 a.m. to 7 p.m.
“I think what you hear today is the rebirth of a regional bus transportation service for Clay County and it can only get better from here,” Clay County Interim Manager Lorin Mock said.
Previously, citizens could take a bus from Keystone Heights to Gainesville, to places like the Veterans Affairs hospital and office. With these new bus lines, that option is not available.
According to Weckenmann, that bus route, which was previously dubbed the Magenta line, won’t be happening anytime soon. Weckenmann said the reason is the funds just aren’t there. Furthermore, he said that Gainesville urban lines helped make that happen, which no longer is an option.
Weckenmann said the money for that line came from a small urban grant that the Florida Department of Transportation administered. This grant was a 50/50 grant which saw the BCC pay for 50 percent of the costs.
“The Magenta line was a well-ridden line, so I hope to see that come back,” County Commissioner Gavin Rollins said.
While nobody’s sure if the Magenta line comes back, at least Clay County citizens now can ride the Red and Blue lines to most parts of the county for just $1.