UPDATE (7/2/19): JTA spokesman David Cawton II provided the following statement: “The safety and security of our customers, bus operators and other drivers is paramount and the top priority at the JTA. We take these recent events extremely seriously. As we continue our internal investigations, the JTA will make any changes necessary to ensure our transportation services are as safe as possible.”
It’s been a rough few weeks for the Jacksonville Transportation Authority and its fleet of buses.
A series of accidents and questionable decisions by JTA bus drivers have prompted anger and confusion from local residents, as what started as an isolated tragedy snowballed into a public-relations nightmare.
It all started when a JTA bus struck and killed a local resident in Mayport.
The driver, Jean
Interestingly, the file also shows that Silney was recognized internally for “safe driving” just a year after the 2013 incident.
Shortly after that, a photo circulated on social media that seemed to depict a JTA bus getting its front end stuck underneath a railroad crossing arm. Then came a video that shows a JTA bus briefly traveling into oncoming traffic – also in Mayport.
And now just this morning, a JTA bus driver was mildly injured when their bus – which was carrying at least seven passengers – came into contact with an Amtrak train. Early eye-witness reports seem to indicate that the driver may have been trying to beat the train and, at the very least, had to be told by passengers to back up away from the tracks.
JTA buses are required by law to stop at all railroad crossings.
As isolated incidents, these could likely be shrugged off, with the obvious exception of the fatal Mayport crash. But with multiple questionable decisions – ones that could, or even did, impact someone’s life forever – in such a short time span, it’s clear that something needs to change.
As the company prepares to enter a new era with the pending completion of the Jacksonville Regional Transportation Center and plans to revamp the Skyway system, it can ill afford such controversy.
And more importantly, the Jax residents who rely upon JTA buses for transportation can’t afford to have their daily trip become a matter of life or death.