Newcomers relocating to Jacksonville from prominent US cities such as New York, Chicago and Los Angeles with their sophisticated public transportation resources may find that getting around requires a bit more effort than they are accustomed to.
Jacksonville is a sprawling city and getting about without a car may prove difficult. The city’s public transport networks are fairly limited and really only serve the downtown area sufficiently.
Ride-hailing services such as Uber and Lyft are well established in Jacksonville and provide an excellent alternative for those who don’t drive.
Public transport in Jacksonville
The Jacksonville Transportation Authority (JTA) oversees the city’s public transport network. The system consists of a fairly extensive bus network and a monorail system.
Although Jacksonville’s bus service connects much of this massive city, the system has limitations. Buses in Jacksonville rarely run on time and commuters can expect to wait between 30 minutes to an hour between services, which can be incredibly frustrating.
While operating hours are occasionally extended to accommodate special events, generally speaking, buses in Jacksonville stop running at around 8pm or 9pm, depending on the particular route.
Bus fares are cheap, and those who are planning on using buses as their primary mode of transport should consider investing in a STAR Card, which offers daily and weekly passes at discounted rates.
The Skyway is Jacksonville’s free elevated monorail service that connects particular points of interest in the city centre. There are eight stations across two lines: the Downtown line and the Southbank line.
The Skyway only operates during the week from 6am to 9pm. From time to time, additional weekend services will be made available if there is a special event taking place.
While the Skyway provides a great way to get around Jacksonville’s city centre, it is typically something that is used by visitors rather than long-term residents.
Taxis in Jacksonville
A number of traditional taxi services operate in Jacksonville but fares can quickly add up considering the size of the city and distance between places.
Taxis are readily available in the city centre, especially close to tourist hotspots. New residents may find it is more difficult to access taxi services in the suburbs, though, as most people opt to use their own cars to get about. It's therefore best to have a number on hand and book ahead of time when travelling from the suburbs.
Ride-hailing services such as Uber and Lyft have an established presence in Jacksonville. Rates are also generally more reasonable than the equivalent taxi ride. Users simply need to download the relevant app onto their smartphone and register for an account using their bank card.
Cycling in Jacksonville
In recent years, cycling has become a popular pastime in Jacksonville. Cycling isn't really the most efficient way of commuting in a city as large as Jacksonville, but having a bike is useful when it comes to getting around the downtown area.
Cycling is not just a great way to stay active, but it provides an excellent opportunity to explore parts of Jacksonville that aren’t always accessible by car.
Walking in Jacksonville
While commuting on foot isn't practical, new arrivals will find that many of Jacksonville's suburbs are incredibly walkable and safe.
Once in the city centre, taking a walk is a great way to explore the hidden corners of Jacksonville at a leisurely pace. Areas such as Riverside, San Marco and Fairfax are rated as the city's most walkable.
Driving in Jacksonville
Given the size of the city, driving is the most practical way of getting around in Jacksonville. Having a car makes life infinitely easier and gives people the freedom to explore Jacksonville and its surrounds at leisure.
Most Jacksonville residents own a car, and investing in a vehicle will certainly help newcomers get acquainted with the city faster.
New arrivals to Florida can drive on their foreign or out-of-state driver's licence initially, but must get a Florida licence within 30 days of officially becoming resident.
What do expats say about transport in Jacksonville?
"Learn how to drive before moving to Jacksonville if you have never driven before. It is hard to get around if you don't know how to drive, and you can't rely on public transport or Ubers all the time. The Uber path will get expensive eventually and you can't even travel that far. "
►Working in Jacksonville is useful reading for anyone considering their career options here
Are you an expat living in Jacksonville?
Expat Arrivals is looking for locals to contribute to this guide, and answer forum questions from others planning their move to Jacksonville. Please contact us if you'd like to contribute.
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