JTRAN welcomes new hybrid buses, kicks off transit study

Jan. 6, 2021
The new buses and study are part of a larger effort to deliver improved transit service to the community.

The new year is ushering in buses and a new transit study in Jackson, Miss., in an effort that city leaders say will deliver on a long-term goal of becoming a multimodal city.  

At a Jan. 4 press conference, Mayor Chokwe Antar Lumumba introduced two of four JTRAN hybrid-electric buses that will enter service this week and mark the transition toward a lower-emission fleet. JTRAN expects to take delivery of eight additional hybrid-electric buses within the next two years. The procurement of the buses was made possible with two Federal Transit Administration Low or No-Emission Bus Program grants for which the city of Jackson was awarded $1.5 million in 2019 and an additional $5.5 million in 2020.

Jordan Hillman, director of planning for the city, noted JTRAN has replaced 50 percent of its fleet since 2017 with a mix of nine diesel buses, 10 paratransit vehicles that will arrive in 2021 and the new hybrid-electric buses.

The new vehicles will ferry passengers along routes that haven’t changed much in 30 years. However, a new study aims to reinvent JTRAN service, while striking a balance between frequency and coverage. In addition to the new vehicles, the city launched ConnectJXN: Transit Plan, a study designed to improve JTRAN’s fixed-route bus and paratransit services.

The ConnectJXN: Transit Plan study will create a blueprint for a modernized JTRAN network that adapts to changing community needs and technologies to serve transit riders better. The study’s key objectives include creating better connections through direct and reliable routes, promoting fair and equal access to opportunities throughout the city and enhancing operational efficiency.

“These new buses, along with the launch of the ConnectJXN: Transit Plan, represent the latest steps our city is taking to provide sustainable and equitable transportation for Jackson residents,” said Mayor Lumumba.

He shared with attendees of the press conference the single statistical variable to align with generational poverty isn’t education, but commute times and the ability of people within a community to get to and from the places they want to go.

“A city on the move deserves an efficient transit system,” said Christine Welch, deputy director, Office of Transportation for the city and project manager for the study. “That’s why I’m excited to finally offer Jackson a progressive route system that better meets the needs of our passengers. Our transit study will provide just that by getting people where they need to go more efficiently and providing greater access to all.”

Jordan Hillman, director of planning for the city, says the study offers an opportunity to reinvent what transit looks like in Jackson.

“We have heard the challenges our users experience using a system that largely looks the same as it did 30 years ago. We believe this transit plan and the resulting new route plan will be a step forward in providing a balance of frequency of service and coverage across the city,” said Hillman.

Community engagement is a cornerstone of the study, which will incorporate ideas and comments from the community into the new system. The outreach begins with a rider participation survey that can be viewed at JTRANtransitplan.com.

Mayor Lumumba echoed Hillman’s call for community engagement by explaining the city doesn’t want to “design and defend” a new system and instead will build a network with community input from the start to deliver a system that will be of use to riders.

About the Author

Mischa Wanek-Libman | Group Editorial Director

Mischa Wanek-Libman serves as editor in chief of Mass Transit magazine and group editorial director of the Infrastructure and Aviation Group at Endeavor Business Media. She is responsible for developing and maintaining the editorial direction of the group and is based in the western suburbs of Chicago.

Wanek-Libman has spent more than 20 years covering transportation issues including construction projects and engineering challenges for various commuter railroads and transit agencies. She has been recognized for editorial excellence through her individual work, as well as for collaborative content. 

She is an active member of the American Public Transportation Association's Marketing and Communications Committee and serves as a Board Observer on the National Railroad Construction and Maintenance Association (NRC) Board of Directors.  

She is a graduate of Drake University, where she earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in Journalism and Mass Communication with a major in magazine journalism and a minor in business management.