Sunday, November 20, 2016

Share your opinion on Lymmo Expansion Plans


Lynx is seeking input from transit passengers about potential expansion of and enhancements to the free Downtown Orlando Lymmo service.

Lymmo debuted in 1997 as the first Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) system in the nation. Nearly 20 years later, Lymmo has grown from a single route serving the Downtown core (now the Orange Line) to include two additional lines (Grapefruit Line serving Parramore & Thornton Park and the Lime Line serving Creative Village) and an offshoot of the Orange Line in the developing North Quarter.

Further expansion of the system to include new routes serving Downtown South (including Orlando Health, the Amtrak station, Sodo and Market at Southside), Mills Park (including Florida Hospital) and College Park is being proposed.  Additionally, signal enhancements and other upgrades are being considered for the existing lines.

We’ve had a chance to review the proposals in detail and are very excited about what might be coming. We encourage you to weigh in and take the brief survey that Lynx has created. Lynx wants to make sure that the Lymmo expansion meets the needs of those who live, work, play and move around Downtown Orlando and adjacent communities.


Sunday, November 13, 2016

COMING SOON TO LYNX: Free Wi-Fi and Real-Time Bus Tracking App


At the Central Florida Regional Transportation Authority Board meeting on November 10, 2016, funds were approved that will allow Lynx to implement several major technology upgrades that will enhance the passenger experience.



Free Wi-Fi Service Fleetwide on Lynx 


Wi-Fi is currently in a beta test on 30 vehicles (about 10% of the Lynx fleet). Beginning in December 2016, the service will be rolled out to the remaining 270 buses and a full-scale marketing campaign will begin in January 2017.
 
Lynx will be installing cellular modems and Wi-Fi routers on the entire fixed-route bus fleet and providing cellular-based Wi-Fi service to customers. Internet security software consisting of bandwidth management (restricting streaming video and other high bandwidth applications) and content filters (to prevent pornography and other objectionable content) will be utilized to ensure a reliable Internet speed and pleasant experience for passengers.

Lynx is spending $182,000 on the initial installation of the equipment, and will incur annual costs of just over $175,000 to provide the cellular Internet signal ($36 per bus per month), security software and device maintenance and support.

Free Wi-Fi is quickly becoming an expected amenity, and we applaud Lynx for providing this service that will benefit both captive and choice riders who have a limited data plan or who want to get some work done while in transit.



Real-Time Bus Tracking App for Smartphones

Concept of Lynx Real-Time
Bus Tracking App


The Lynx board also approved funds for development of a “real-time” vehicle-tracking app for use with fixed-route buses, NeighborLink and AccessLynx services. 

The app will utilize data from Lynx’s existing computer-aided dispatch systems.

For fixed-route buses and Lymmo, development of the application will begin this month and last through December 2016, with a pilot/beta-test expected in January 2017 and a full rollout in April 2017.

For NeighborLink, the app will allow for real-time trip requests as well as vehicle-tracking. The NeighborLink technology has already been tested and will begin a soft roll out in January 2017 with full implementation expected in March 2017.  

Concept of NeighborLink
Real-Time Tracking App
AccessLynx passengers will be able to use the app to see a real-time location of the vehicle assigned to the specific customers’ trip. Development will begin soon, with implementation expected for summer of 2017. 

Costs for the Real-Time Tracking App are expected to be $40,000 for development and $80,000 annually for hosting and maintenance for fixed route/Lymmo; $888,000 is budgeted for development/implementation and $25,000 annually for NeighborLink and $132,000 development/implementation and $30,000 annual operating costs for Access Lynx. Much of the development and implementation cost is being funded by grants. The app is being built with "open architecture" that can tie in SunRail, Votran and other area transit systems in the future.


This app will be a useful, practical amenity that is sure to increase passenger satisfaction and allow passengers to better manage their time when waiting for delayed buses. We're really excited about this one.



Mobile Fare Collection

Concept of Mobile
Fare Collection
Lynx is also exploring a Mobile Fare Collection technology that would allow passengers to pay their fare via a smartphone app and validate the fare “hands-free” upon boarding the bus by displaying or scanning their smartphone screen.

Mobile Fare Collection is currently in the procurement phase, with an employee beta-test expected to begin in December 2016 and a passenger pilot coming in January 2017.

The Lynx board will evaluate the trial results in March 2017 and a award a contract, will a full roll out of the chosen technology to begin in May 2017.


We’re a bit skeptical about the practicality of, but intrigued by, the Mobile Fare concept and will be watching the program closely to share new developments as things progress.

We're thrilled that Lynx is making these investments in technology with the passenger in mind. Which of these three technology-driven projects are you most excited about? Why? Tell us in the comments!

Monday, November 7, 2016

Welcome to LynxedTogether!



 Welcome to LynxedTogether! We’re a blog and online community created to advocate for Lynx bus passengers in Orange, Osceola and Seminole Counties in Central Florida.

Considering the funding constraints that the Central Florida Regional Transportation Agency (aka Lynx) faces, we think they do a surprisingly adept job of providing reliable transportation services to area residents. But there are so many unmet needs – critical areas of our community that don’t have bus service at all and too many places where the buses don't run often enough, late enough or even 7 days a week to get passengers where they need to go.

Lynx passengers are primarily what are known as “captive” riders: those without a car or another way to get around. One mission of this blog will be to advocate for these passengers and bring attention to areas where service can be improved or optimized to better meet the needs of this constituency.

It’s our firm belief that Lynx needs to begin attracting “choice” riders - those who do have access to a car, but who choose public transit because it is cost effective, convenient and easy to use. Encouraging Lynx to improve service to attract choice riders will be the second mission of the blog.

Finally, advocating for a dedicated funding source for Lynx will be our third mission, as we understand that dedicated funding is a critical step for Lynx to be able to purchase more buses and hire more drivers.

I’ll be serving as LynxedTogether’s editor and community manager. I live near Downtown Orlando and am a regular Lynx passenger (don’t be afraid to say hello if you see me on the bus!) and have experience in building online communities and bringing people together via social media.

We want to hear from you on how Lynx can improve to better meet your travel needs. Please ‘like’ LynxedTogether on Facebook and follow us on Twitter, and feel free to email us anytime at LynxedTogether@gmail.com


LynxedTogether was created by David Porter, founder of SunRailRiders.com. It’s part of his vision to improve public transit in Central Florida to relieve congestion by getting cars off our roads and highways.

David and I both believe that communities are stronger when they’re linked together by public transit. In Central Florida, we want and need to be LynxedTogether.