Monday, September 17, 2018

Lynx needs to improve coordination

Ever since SunRail started serving our community, people have asked if Lynx is coordinating its buses with SunRail.

Lynx and SunRail officials have repeatedly said that they are coordinating bus and train arrival times.

Coordination is the key to what transportation wonks call an “intermodal” system. In other words, a system where people can seamlessly transfer from one mode of transportation to another, such as from a bus to a train and vice versa.

Bus leaves right before SunRail arrives
Yet we have continued to hear Lynx riders complain that the bus they needed pulled out of the train station just before their train arrived.

For the first time this past Monday (Sept. 17) we decided to check it out for ourselves.

We arrived at the Sand Lake Road SunRail station before sunrise.

Lo and behold two buses pulled in. A couple of people got off. Then the buses left. As the buses pulled away we could hear the public address system on the platform announce that the next train was due in two minutes.

Two minutes later the train pulled in, but there were no buses waiting in the train station. To see it for yourself, click here.

Sand Lake Road is a major transfer point. It provides bus links to Orlando International Airport; the Sand Lake Road business corridor; International Drive where many people in the hospitality-industry work, and other destinations in south and east Orlando county.

We saw the cycle of the bus leaving before the train pulled in two more times at Sand Lake Road on Monday.

No one should look at this article and conclude that everything is screwed up between Lynx and SunRail. We observed operations for less than an hour at one train station.

What we observed though, shows there is room for improvement.

We don’t think the bus drivers should take the blame for what we saw. Who knows if the bus drivers even know the SunRail train schedule. Indeed, bus drivers have their own bus schedule to keep.

We know that Lynx managers are always working to fine-tune their routes and schedules. That process takes time.

A quick fix for what we observed might be to post a Lynx dispatcher at Sand Lake Road (and other major transfer points) during critical travel periods – especially during the morning rush hours – and give that dispatcher the authority to hold a bus for a minute or two if a train is only a minute or two from arriving.

Realistically three things need to happen to improve Lynx and SunRail service.
·        Voters need to elect local, state and federal officials who are dedicated to improving public transit in Metro Orlando.
·        Merge Lynx and SunRail into a single public transit system.
·        Provide money to add 400 buses to the Lynx fleet (more buses and drivers means improved service for riders). Fund a full-service SunRail so the trains run more frequently and provide train service on the weekends, holidays and late at night.