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.

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