Thursday, October 11, 2018

How come Lynx riders get left in the dust

Lynx bus riders in Central Florida always seem to get the short end of the stick.

Check out the recent report card on Metro Orlando’s transportation that the Orange County League of Women Voters just released. Click here for the report.

Overall the report was good. The league gave the transportation network and local leaders a D grade. We give the league a B for their report.

Just like everybody else, the league report seemed overly focused on improving and expanding rail transportation – SunRail -- and connecting that train system Orlando International Airport.

Those are noble concerns, but let’s get real.

SunRail now provides 5,300 rides daily. Lynx provides 83,000 daily rides – 15 times the number of SunRail.

We’re not putting down SunRail. We’re just stating cold, hard facts.

Most of the Lynx riders aren’t headed to exciting destinations like the airport.

They’re going to I Drive to change linens on beds or headed to jobs in theme parks and other thankless tasks that most people wouldn’t want to do.

And by the way, did we mention that SunRail only runs Monday to Friday, while Lynx is a 365-day service because many of its riders work non-traditional shifts?

Without Lynx, Central Florida’s service-based economy would have crashed and burned years ago.

We get it. We know that SunRail is the new shiny toy.

Suits are common on SunRail; not so much on the Lynx bus.

The class bias was unfortunate, but not uncommon.

In a new report, an advocacy group called the TransitCenter explained that that “transit agencies are still overwhelmingly focused on rail, rather than bus, amenities. In 2016, transit agencies spent just 6 percent of their station capital funds on bus stop amenities, like benches and shelters. The other 94 percent went to rail stations.

“There are two main problems with that disparity. For one, it’s discriminatory. Bus riders are more likely to be low-income. And it’s bad business: about 50 percent of transit trips in the U.S. are still made by bus.”

Lynx riders, some of whom also use SunRail, don’t want to get lost in the sauce.

SunRail service certainly needs to be improved. But Lynx should not be an afterthought. Its riders have suffered from skimpy service for decades.