Wednesday, June 20, 2018

After 25 years Lynx still don't get no respect

Tri-County Transit was re-branded as Lynx 25 years ago. They painted many of the buses funky tropical colors to add some pizzazz.

That was probably the first time elected officials in Orlando took public transit seriously.

Yet Lynx continues to drag along because frankly, we don’t know of any elected officials who ride the bus, except maybe for a news media photo opportunity.

Lynx may as well be a homeless guy panhandling at the side of the road – all the suits see him but ignore him.

But Lynx is not a homeless guy. It’s an integral part of Central Florida service economy. If hourly workers can’t get to work, the theme parks, convention center, hotels and so forth are out of business.

Granted SunRail is the new shiny toy in Central Florida’s public transit arena. Lynx may not seem as sexy and cool as SunRail, but every day Lynx gives 80,000 more rides than SunRail. (That’s not a typo).

Many Lynx routes run on weekends and late at night. SunRail does not.
Despite this, Lynx riders are subjected to long waits at bus stops under the broiling sun and in rain.

Lynx service should be a lot better. But Lynx only has slightly more than 300 buses to serve three counties.

Realistically, Lynx needs 600 to 800 buses to provide frequent service and to service more destinations.

Lynx can’t do a lot better because passenger fares only cover about one-third of the operating expenses.

Lynx, SunRail and just about every other public transit system, in the world rely on public subsidies to operate. (Before any fiscal hawks start beefing, you should know that the airlines and even the road outside your house are subsidized by taxpayers.)

The problem is there is no dedicated source of funding for Lynx and SunRail. Remember, most of those elected officials who never ride the Lynx don’t really care about the hourly workers who rely on the bus.

And while we’re at it, SunRail is living on borrowed time. Right now, the train is being subsidized by the Florida Department of Transportation (which is why there is no late-night or weekend service). Come 2021, SunRail also will need a local dedicated funding source or it will go out of business.

But for right now, let’s celebrate 25 years of Lynx by clicking here.