Tuesday, March 13, 2018

Help create a new Pine Hills bus transfer station

If you ride the Lynx bus in the Pine Hills area, you’ll want to pay attention to this.

Lynx is planning to build a new bus transfer station to serve the Pine Hills area and YOU can help design it.

Right now, transferring from one bus to another in the Pine Hills – at Silver Star and Hiawassee roads – is a pretty dismal experience, with little or no shelter from the rain and sun.

Waiting for Lynx in Pine Hills
However, several months ago, Lynx bought land on Belco Drive, behind the Winn-Dixie shopping center, for a new transfer station and they’re determined to create something nice that can become an attractive, well-lit Town Center for Pine Hills and a great place to wait for your next bus.

The new bus transfer station must accommodate 8 to 10 buses. Design specifications say the transfer station must include:
·        transit center building
·        safety and security elements
·        accessible to the disabled and people using bicycles
Hamburg, Germany bus station
·        art/cultural elements
·        sustainable elements – solar and rain gardens
·        space for community events

On April 21st Lynx officials, residents and other interest folks will hold an all-day planning meeting at Evans High School to look at examples from other cities to come up with the best design for the Pine Hills station.

Lynx has $3 million to build the new bus transfer station.

CORRECTION: Location where most people transfer in Pine Hills.

Monday, March 12, 2018

Let's get political to fix Lynx

While attending a local meeting recently we heard a young woman who lives north of Apopka say she had to ride a bicycle almost 5 miles to the closest Lynx bus stop. To her, visiting downtown Orlando’s Lake Eola seemed more exotic than going to Disney World.

Since you’re reading this blog, you know that getting around Central Florida is a hardship for tens of thousands of residents who depend on Lynx for transportation.

It’s enough to make you want to curse out the people who run Lynx. 
Realistically, though, it’s not their fault. Lynx has never been properly funded to provide decent transportation for our community.

Blame the local, state, and federal elected officials who have been shortchanging the bus system for decades. When is the last time you saw a politician riding the Lynx bus? It never happens, unless they need a photo opportunity.

Somehow the politicians and community leaders found the money to expand the airport; build two basketball arenas; overhaul the Citrus Bowl and create a massive new downtown campus for the University of Central Florida.

Yet those same politicians never gave a second thought to providing decent public transportation for the hourly workers who keep those venues clean and running. It takes some Lynx riders two hours or more going to work and coming home from work every day.

Do you realize that Mickey Mouse has more buses to move guests between the resort hotels and the amusement parks at Disney than Lynx has in its fleet serving three sprawling counties?

Disney values its resort guests. Local politicians take Central Florida’s hourly workers for granted.

The core problem is Lynx never gets enough money to make major improvements and expansions to its service. This is because there is no dedicated source of funding -- such as a tax or fee -- to provide the reliable source of funding for the bus service.

Every year the Lynx leaders must go hat in hand to elected officials to beg for money to operate.

Anyone who tells you that SunRail and Lynx should be self sufficient -- without a taxpayer subsidy -- doesn’t know what they’re talking about.

There is no public transit system anywhere in the world that supports itself solely from the fare box. All transit systems -- including airlines and the paved street outside your house -- are subsidized by taxpayers.

Because most Central Floridians have a car, it’s easy for politicians to overlook the people who rely on Lynx.

Yet Lynx riders are far from insignificant. Lynx riders are the backbone of our community’s workforce and service-based economy.

Here’s a little factoid you should know. Every day Lynx buses provide 85,000 rides. By comparison, SunRail provides 3,200 rides – and a good segment of those people also ride Lynx. Also, SunRail only runs Monday to Friday, and is off on most holidays. Lynx runs every day.

There is one way things will change for Lynx riders. Change requires getting up in the face of elected officials and demanding that Lynx receive more money to improve its service. Don’t you deserve it?

Political activism worked for the students who survived the horrible massacre at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in South Florida. They demanded action on gun safety and they got it in less than a month. They didn’t get everything they asked for, but they did make progress.

What can Lynx riders do?

Register to vote.

When politicians send you campaign fliers and emails, call them back and ask them what they’re going to do to improve Lynx bus service. Don’t settle for empty promises. Demand action – NOW!

This is an election year. You have them over a barrel. They want your vote.

Make them work for it.

And then hold them accountable.

Now, let’s get busy.

Click here for a free subscription to help us fight for better Lynx bus service.

Sunday, February 4, 2018

Civil rights icon Rosa Parks fought for public transit

Many people think of Rosa Parks as a hero of the civil rights battle for defying racist Alabama segregation laws in 1955 by getting arrested for refusing to give up her seat to a white man and igniting the Montgomery Bus Boycott.

Rosa Parks
Mrs. Parks, who was born more than 100 years ago on Feb. 4, 1913, was also an early advocate for public transportation, which is why thousands of people around the nation will observe Transit Equity Day on Monday, Feb. 5, 2018.

Leaders of the Transit Equity Day initiative wrote the following:
One of the organizers of the Montgomery bus boycott, Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr., became America’s best-known spokesperson for civil rights. He helped Americans to understand that civil rights included not only the right to vote and to ride in any seat on a bus, but the right to a decent home, the right to a good job, the right to join a union, and other rights necessary for equal access to a good life.

King recognized that equal access to transportation was one of those essential rights. Fifteen years after the integration of Montgomery’s buses, he pointed out in A Testament of Hope that many Americans faced discrimination not because they couldn’t sit on any seat on a bus, but because they couldn’t get access to public transportation that would take them where they needed to go at an affordable cost. “The layout of rapid-transit systems,” he pointed out, “determines the accessibility of jobs.” If the transportation systems in American cities were laid out so as to provide “an opportunity for poor people to get meaningful employment,” then those people could begin to “move into the mainstream of American life.” Unfortunately, transit systems did not provide that accessibility. So, King concluded, “urban transit systems” have become “a genuine civil rights issue.”

Since then our urban transit systems have grown far worse. Privatization has led to running companies not for public service but for corporate profit. If companies can’t make a profit running buses for less affluent workers and neighborhoods, they often fail to buy new buses, let their equipment run down, make schedules that are impossible for drivers to meet – and then shut down the lines on the grounds that they don’t pay for themselves! Our cities are full of transit deserts where residents and workers have to spend hours walking and taking circuitous routes simply to get to their jobs, see their families, buy groceries, or get to a medical appointment. According to U.S. Census data, nearly half of American households do not have access to any public transportation.

In honor of Rosa Parks Day, a group of organizations including the Amalgamated Transit Union, the Labor Network for Sustainability, Jobs with Justice, and the Institute for Policy Studies are declaring a Transit Equity Day on February 5, 2018, to take action for civil rights and a climate-safe future.

Dr. King expanded the focus of transit rights from the right to ride anywhere on a bus to the right to ride to anywhere you need to go on a bus. We are similarly expanding what is included in transit justice:

·        Transportation justice: Every person in every neighborhood regardless of age, race, class, gender, or disability should have the right to safe, convenient transportation at an affordable cost.
·        Workers justice: The workers who build public transit infrastructure, who operate and maintain the systems, and who get us where we need to go have the right to safe, decent working conditions, family-supporting incomes, and the right to choose to be represented by a union.
·        Community justice: Pollution from cars, trucks, and other transportation emit a large proportion of our dangerous pollution, causing asthma and many other life-threatening conditions. Replacing cars and trucks with public transit is far healthier for individuals and communities. A just transit system will provide all communities fair access to the jobs and amenities of metropolitan areas.
·        Climate justice: The lives and futures of Americans and all people are threatened by devastating climate change. As a U.S. federal court recently declared, all people have a right to a stable climate. That will require a rapid cut in the burning of the fossil fuels that emit the greenhouse gases (GHGs) that cause climate change. And one of the easiest, fastest, and cheapest ways to do that is public transit run on clean, renewable energy.

·        Transit justice, in short, is essential for building a just and climate-safe future.

Thursday, August 3, 2017

New LYMMO bus leaves some Parramore residents at the curb

The expansion of the Lymmo free bus service in Parramore is exciting news -- except if you live in Parramore.

Mayor Buddy Dyer, Lynx and other government officials will be holding a ceremony Friday to cut the ribbon for the Lymmo Lime line.

Here’s how the event was described in the week-ahead advisory sent to the news media. “Mayor Dyer will join with Lynx to celebrate LYMMO’s latest expansion with the completion of the Lime Line. The new LYMMO Lime Line provides a critical connection for the Parramore neighborhood to access Lynx Central Station, SunRail and the downtown core.”

Sounds like the service is for Parramore residents. But, it’s not.

If you look at the accompanying map provided by Lynx, it’s clear that the Lime line doesn’t enter the residential area of Parramore – one of Orlando’s historically black communities that is being threatened by gentrification.

The free bus service is focused on serving the federal courthouse, FAMU College of Law, Creative Village and the future UCF/Valencia Downtown Campus, Amway Station and Lynx Central Station.

Parramore activist Lawanna Gelzer said: “That bus is not for us. They don’t want us on that bus. That bus is for people who want to come into the community the neighborhood for business or to go to a game. They want to move us out of here.”

Many Parramore residents are needy, don’t own cars and depend on public transportation. Extending the Lime line just a few more blocks to the south would make the free service easily accessible to hundreds of Parramore residents.

The official press release from Lynx said: “This project was funded by the Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery Program. The purpose of this funding through the U.S. Department of Transportation and the Federal Transit Administration is to generate economic development and improve access to transportation. With a nearly $13 million investment, the LYMMO Lime Line Project has met the intent of the program.”

Friday’s event marks the 20th anniversary of LYMMO that became the nation’s first bus rapid transit system – with its own dedicated lane on the street.

The LYMMO system includes two more lines – Orange and Grapefruit. It’s noteworthy that in addition to government offices and businesses those other LYMMO lines do serve residential areas, including a small portion of Parramore.

Friday’s event will be at 10 a.m. at the northwest corner of North Terry Avenue and West Livingston street.

For more news, please click here.