Innovation is at the heart of everything I do as the CEO of the Jacksonville Transportation Authority (JTA), and something I expect my teams to integrate into all their initiatives. Being innovative means being bold—taking risks and toppling the traditional ways we’ve operated as providers of public transportation. My industry is in the middle of the most transformative period since the automobile began to replace the horse-drawn carriage at the turn of the last century, and the successful agencies will be the ones who’ve already recognized and adjusted to this shift.
I’ve shifted our mindset at the JTA from being just a provider of public transportation to Mobility Managers. I call this the new mobility paradigm—a mentality that requires us to evolve faster by integrating and overseeing a holistic, efficiently connected transportation network comprised of public and private sector services.
It’s a mindset that’s led us down the path of being the first public transportation authority in the U.S. to develop an autonomous vehicle network for public transportation that we’ll deploy in a busy downtown, or using this new technology to eventually serve college campuses, medical complexes, and neighborhoods.
This risk-taking behavior and passion is something I’ve seen from the private sector my entire career. I watched Uber upend the traditional taxi industry in the San Francisco Bay area a decade ago; and watched as micro-transit providers identified holes in the services offered by public transportation authorities and launch their own alternatives.
Part of being innovative is recognizing how to develop partnerships to supplement your services more cost-effectively. Through this approach, we’ve replaced expensive JTA services by connecting with the private sector, which can cover certain geographic distances more affordably than we can as a government agency.
We do this to enhance mobility for everyone, not just our customers.
In the 21st century, customers have higher expectations. They want intuitive mobile apps to purchase fares and to be able to board and move through various modes of transportation with ease. They expect the data they share with us to be private. They demand excellence.
So we’ll keep innovating—whether through the autonomous vehicle program, bus rapid transit, the largest in the Southeast, better route optimization of our traditional services, and by using a robust business intelligence unit to identify trends and head off potential challenges from the start.
We will be the flagbearer for innovative mobility solutions in Jacksonville— not just because it’s trendy or headline-grabbing—but because it’s the right thing to do to make our community a better place to live and easier place to travel.