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IMG_3271 It’s summertime in the city and #DTJax has some cool amenities for you to enjoy. With the St. Johns River being one of them, we like to look at it as an American Heritage River in recognition of its ecological, historic, economic, recreational and cultural significance. In doing so, the public may gain a greater appreciation and understanding of the river’s importance to the quality of life for current and future generations. We like to take advantage of using the St. Johns River as much as we can and one way is by riding the St. Johns River Taxi. It is a great way to get to all of your favorite spots and even comes with a great view! New to the River Taxi are the Sunset Cruises running from Thursday to Sunday for just $20 a person and Saturday cruises to the Jacksonville Zoo for just $40 a person! Grab a group of friends or that special someone and take a ride on the river while enjoying the wind, water, live music and maybe even a few dolphins – if you’re lucky! Some of the DVI staff had a chance to check out the Sunset Cruise this past weekend and it could not have been a more perfect day to be on the water. IMG_3253 Pick up/drop off takes places at River City Brewing Company and if you get there early, it is a great way to kick off a date night and grab some dinner or drinks beforehand. Once you hop onto the taxi, you pick a seat with the best view. We recommend anywhere near the front, back or sides of the boat. You get the perfect amount of wind in your hair and some of the best photos of our beautiful #DTJax skyline. Once everyone is loaded on, a lovely musician begins to perform some great tunes while you’re staring off into the shimmering lights bouncing off the river. Another cool perk is that you can bring your own food and drinks to make it a party! What can be better than that? During our Sunset Cruise, we were able to experience a wonderful singer, beautiful weather (finally a break from all the rain!) and a family of dolphins swimming near by. At the end of the cruise, the taxi takes you back to River City Brewing Company where you can continue to enjoy the night by walking the Southbank Riverwalk, the Main Street Bridge or even hang out some of our favorite spots such as The Jacksonville Landing, Hemming Park or The Elbow. If you haven’t taken a ride with the St. Johns River Taxi yet, don’t worry. They are open Tuesday through Sunday. If you’re interested in signing up for a sunset cruise or a zoo cruise, be sure to buy your tickets today! For more information about the St. Johns River Taxi or anything else in #DTJax, visit our website or download our FREE app today! While you’re at it, please take a moment to fill out this quick survey and share your thoughts about the St. Johns River.

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Full trolley on Saturday night.

Clang, clang, clang went the trolley,
Ding, ding, ding went the bell,
Zing, zing, zing went my heartstrings.

Though I’ve never seen Meet Me in St. Louis, (which shouldn’t come as a surprise – I’ve never seen Star Wars either) “The Trolley Song” was stuck in my head all weekend thanks to the Riverside Avondale Night Trolley.

Our friends at Riverside Avondale Preservation have teamed up with Jacksonville Transportation Authority for the Riverside Avondale Night Trolley demonstration to enhance public transportation throughout the neighborhoods. On the first weekend of every month for six months, three trolleys run from 6 p.m.- 12 a.m. with one running until 2 a.m. It costs $1.50 for a single ride (exact change is needed), or you can purchase a $4-day pass at a number of local merchants.

A few days before the trolley demo was set to begin, I spoke with RAP’s executive director, Carmen Godwin. Godwin spoke of several attempts at creating a permanent trolley route within Downtown and the Riverside-Avondale area, including Art Walk, a day-time trolley in Avondale, and most recently, a partnership with European Street, the breweries and businesses along King St. this past fall.

What’s different this time? JTA’s new executive director, Nathanial Ford. The new administration is more willing to look into choice ridership versus forced ridership, according to Godwin. The trend of “new urbanism” throughout the nation’s core cities is also a factor. Many young people are moving to areas where they can utilize public transportation, walk or ride a bike to get to their destinations. Studies show that more than 53 percent of 16 to 21-year-olds don’t have driver’s licenses.

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Passengers wait at stop in Avondale.

The first  weekend 960 people rode the trolley. Godwin and JTA both would like to see those numbers continue throughout the program.  If this demonstration is successful, the goal would be to have trolleys running every weekend throughout the Riverside-Avondale area and extending into Downtown, Godwin says. Real success to Godwin, though, is improved social consciousness. “It’s more than fixing parking issues,” Godwin said, “it’s about being more sustainable, green and social.” Of course, it is also about being safe and not drinking and driving during the evenings, but she would like to see a daytime ridership succeed as well.

Stay tuned for my next blog post covering my first weekend experience along the Riverside-Avondale Night Trolley!

For more information visit the trolley’s Facebook page or read Outside the Den for a rider recap by Heather and Alex Bailey.