Trolley trial considered successful

By Kate A. Hallock
Resident Community News

Even as several concept studies are underway to address transportation and parking in the popular and crowded Historic District, some groups have taken the ball and run with it.

Riverside Avondale Preservation sponsored a Trolley Night on Sept. 14, floating a trial balloon that would help the Jacksonville Transit Authority determine if it could be part of the parking solution.

In an email to The Resident, RAP Executive Director Carmen Godwin wrote, “We are thrilled with the turnout for the Night Trolley. We counted over 1,100 trips and that was with it raining outside, a lot of people out of town at a weekend concert in St. Augustine, and with two trolleys breaking down (they were quickly replaced, but I am sure it had an impact).”

She stated that if JTA was willing to open a new route that would service the Riverside Avondale area on weekends in the evening hours it would add a piece to the puzzle to relieve parking problems in the area. “The ridership and interest shown on this evening trial run proves that this would be a highly successful JTA route,” Godwin commented.

One of the best features was the real-time location service created by RAP board member Dylan Phillips. With some simple technology and programming he was able to create a mobile-optimized website that eliminated wait times by allowing riders to see real time where the trolleys were on the route.

Valet Service Now Running in Avondale

In the meantime, the Avondale Merchants Association is sponsoring a valet service for The Shoppes of Avondale that is staged at the Prudential Network Realty office on St. Johns Avenue. According to Chavet Constable, owner of Starlight Valet service, the service hasn’t really caught on yet, but feels that “it’s a no-brainer, a drop-and-go situation.”

The valet service is taking a pause until mid-October when everything, Constable hopes, will get busier. She believes that the valet service is an addition to the parking solutions in Avondale but needs the merchants to jump on board and promote it.

The cost of the valet service is $5 per vehicle, but if the concept is successful in bringing more patrons to the shops, perhaps the merchants will subsidize a portion of the cost.

John Valentino, of Mellow Mushroom, has pledged his support to Constable. “He’s 100 percent on board,” she said. Until Mellow Mushroom opens, patrons of The Brick seem to be the biggest user of the service so far.

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