Not once during the Orlando State of Downtown address last week (Dec. 6) did Mayor Buddy Dyer mention the importance of improving and expanding Lynx bus service.
In a section of the speech Dyer labeled “connectivity” he praised the SunRail commuter train. Dyer spoke of pedestrian trails, bike-share, optimizing vehicle flow, and even the introduction of a ride-share hub for downtown’s late-night club hoppers.
But Dyer – a member of Lynx board – did not specifically call out Lynx and the vital role it plays in moving people, especially those who live east and west of downtown Orlando.
Mind you Lynx Central Station sits in the heart of downtown – a stone’s throw from Creative Village – the mayor’s urban renewal pet project in the historically black Parramore community.
By overlooking Lynx -- either unintentionally or purposefully -- Dyer showed why Lynx continues to limp along. Too many politicians don’t give Lynx the priority and attention it deserves.
Pols are more interested in talking about SunRail – the new shiny toy -- than Lynx, which is the backbone of the local public transit system.
For the record, Lynx provides 83,000 rides daily, compared to SunRail which provides 5,300 rides daily.
Lynx is not sexy, and many of the people who rely on Lynx are needy, or people of color who have little political juice. The routes are convoluted, and many must wait up to an hour between buses or must walk miles to reach their closest bus stops.
Yet without Lynx, the local service-based economy would grind to a halt. Even SunRail depends on Lynx to bring many passengers to the train stations.
Lynx struggles because there is no dedicated source of funding for the system that serves Orange, Seminole and Osceola counties with a fleet of 300 buses though they really need 600 or more buses.
Every year Lynx executives must beg local counties for money to subsidize the system. Nearly every public transit system in the world requires government subsidies to keep running. Without the subsidy Lynx riders on some routes would have to pay up to $14 for a one-way ride.
It’s noteworthy that Dyer gave his State of Downtown address on the same day the Lynx board met. He didn’t make it to the Lynx meeting.