(JACKSON, Miss.) – Thursday, The City of Jackson unveiled its newly rebranded transit system, completely changing its spelling from JATRAN to JTRAN and debuted two brand-new Gillig 35’ Low Floor Buses with the new brand scheme. The buses are the first in a series of scheduled purchases over the next two years. JTRAN’s first batch of hybrid electric buses will arrive later this year, marking JTRAN’s shift to low emission vehicles.
“The ability to provide quality public transportation is consistent with the strategic aims of our city. One of the closest statistical variables to generational poverty is commute time for your residents. And so, I’m grateful, not only to receive these resources to support and build a fleet of buses that service our residents better, but I’m grateful to those individuals in our planning department who have worked diligently in this aim. And, I’m grateful to our residents that utilize our bus service and we want to make sure that it is appropriate and built to their needs,” said Mayor Chokwe Antar Lumumba.
The new JTRAN brand is a dramatic shift away from the past green and yellow branding. The decision to replace the brand was based on the desire to reflect a new image of a transit system that we can be proud of.
“The intention behind the new brand is to restore the faith of our riders and potential riders in JTRAN. We have gone from barely making daily pull-out with functional buses to delivering a product we can be proud of. We’re excited now, the City of Jackson is well on the way to a state-of-the-art transit system and that’s what the new brand is about,” said Deputy Director of Transportation, Christine Welch.
The brand package was created by Jackson based graphic designer Tyler Tadlock. The new JTRAN brand includes a new tag line “discover your routes”.
“The new brand is a shift in how we run a transit system. It’s not just a paint scheme and a tag line. The projects we have laid out over the next two years will fundamentally transform and modernize transit in Jackson and the new brand is the launch party,” said Director of Planning, Jordan Rae Hillman, AICP.
Since 2017, JTRAN has added 9 new buses to the fixed route system. By the end of 2020 JTRAN will add four additional hybrid electric buses. All 13 new buses that will be in circulation by the end of 2020 are low floor Gillig models.
With the introduction of these buses, 50% of the fixed route system’s fleet has been replaced since 2017. This solidifies JTRAN’s daily need for 26 buses to pull out of the maintenance facility each day and begin service. The new buses also assist in maintaining a better quality spare list to pull from when a bus is being serviced. The older model El Dorado and Kansas City buses will start to be retired at the end of 2020. These buses are past their useful life.
On June 2, 2020 JTRAN was awarded $5.5 million in additional funding for low emission bus purchases by the U.S. Department of Transportation’s (USDOT) Federal Transit Administration (FTA) through the Low or No Emission (Low-No) Grant Program. The Low-No program funds the deployment of transit buses and infrastructure for the purchase or lease of zero-emission and low-emission transit buses and supporting facilities. In this competition, FTA focused on the introduction of new technology not commonly found within U.S. transit systems such as advancements to propulsion systems. Forty-one projects in 40 states and the District of Columbia will each receive funding through the program.
“These grants will help communities nationwide deploy the next generation of bus technology to enhance their transportation system,” said Secretary Elaine L. Chao.
The $5.5 million will fund the purchase of an additional 8 hybrid electric buses over the next two years.
In addition to new buses and branding the City of Jackson is working on additional updates to its transit services including completing security upgrades, bus stop improvements, advertising sales, and a city-wide transit study.
Earlier this year all of JTRAN’s fixed route fleet was equipped with a state of the art interior and exterior camera system. This system was installed for the security and safety of riders and transit workers and offers additional transparency when an incident occurs on or involving a JTRAN bus.
A bus stop improvement project is also underway. New bus shelters and benches are being site designed at select locations throughout the city and installation is expected in late 2020. The new bus shelter design will become standard across the city. Additional locations will be added as funding allows each year.
JTRAN will relaunch its advertising program in fall of 2020. The JTRAN advertising program allows for advertisers to purchase and wrap buses with their designs.
Later this summer JTRAN will kick-off a city-wide transit study to begin the process of updating routes based on extensive engagement throughout the city. JTRAN is currently in the Request for Proposals phase of selecting a contractor for the transit study. The transit study will be the first comprehensive study for JTRAN and is the opportunity to reinvent what transit looks like in the City of Jackson. The final product of the transit study will be a new route plan and new time tables based on the extensive engagement and analysis performed through the study. The Oneline Project will be integrated into the transit study.
JTRAN and the City of Jackson would like to acknowledge the critical work of all of our transit workers and their service throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. JTRAN has continued operations throughout that time and provided critical transportation to our community. When others have been able to work from home and shelter in place, the transit workers have been on the front lines daily. They have gone above and beyond in supporting additional cleaning and distancing measures. The City of Jackson extends a sincere thank you to the transit workers.