Sunday, February 4, 2018

Civil rights icon Rosa Parks fought for public transit

Many people think of Rosa Parks as a hero of the civil rights battle for defying racist Alabama segregation laws in 1955 by getting arrested for refusing to give up her seat to a white man and igniting the Montgomery Bus Boycott.

Rosa Parks
Mrs. Parks, who was born more than 100 years ago on Feb. 4, 1913, was also an early advocate for public transportation, which is why thousands of people around the nation will observe Transit Equity Day on Monday, Feb. 5, 2018.

Leaders of the Transit Equity Day initiative wrote the following:
One of the organizers of the Montgomery bus boycott, Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr., became America’s best-known spokesperson for civil rights. He helped Americans to understand that civil rights included not only the right to vote and to ride in any seat on a bus, but the right to a decent home, the right to a good job, the right to join a union, and other rights necessary for equal access to a good life.

King recognized that equal access to transportation was one of those essential rights. Fifteen years after the integration of Montgomery’s buses, he pointed out in A Testament of Hope that many Americans faced discrimination not because they couldn’t sit on any seat on a bus, but because they couldn’t get access to public transportation that would take them where they needed to go at an affordable cost. “The layout of rapid-transit systems,” he pointed out, “determines the accessibility of jobs.” If the transportation systems in American cities were laid out so as to provide “an opportunity for poor people to get meaningful employment,” then those people could begin to “move into the mainstream of American life.” Unfortunately, transit systems did not provide that accessibility. So, King concluded, “urban transit systems” have become “a genuine civil rights issue.”

Since then our urban transit systems have grown far worse. Privatization has led to running companies not for public service but for corporate profit. If companies can’t make a profit running buses for less affluent workers and neighborhoods, they often fail to buy new buses, let their equipment run down, make schedules that are impossible for drivers to meet – and then shut down the lines on the grounds that they don’t pay for themselves! Our cities are full of transit deserts where residents and workers have to spend hours walking and taking circuitous routes simply to get to their jobs, see their families, buy groceries, or get to a medical appointment. According to U.S. Census data, nearly half of American households do not have access to any public transportation.

In honor of Rosa Parks Day, a group of organizations including the Amalgamated Transit Union, the Labor Network for Sustainability, Jobs with Justice, and the Institute for Policy Studies are declaring a Transit Equity Day on February 5, 2018, to take action for civil rights and a climate-safe future.

Dr. King expanded the focus of transit rights from the right to ride anywhere on a bus to the right to ride to anywhere you need to go on a bus. We are similarly expanding what is included in transit justice:

·        Transportation justice: Every person in every neighborhood regardless of age, race, class, gender, or disability should have the right to safe, convenient transportation at an affordable cost.
·        Workers justice: The workers who build public transit infrastructure, who operate and maintain the systems, and who get us where we need to go have the right to safe, decent working conditions, family-supporting incomes, and the right to choose to be represented by a union.
·        Community justice: Pollution from cars, trucks, and other transportation emit a large proportion of our dangerous pollution, causing asthma and many other life-threatening conditions. Replacing cars and trucks with public transit is far healthier for individuals and communities. A just transit system will provide all communities fair access to the jobs and amenities of metropolitan areas.
·        Climate justice: The lives and futures of Americans and all people are threatened by devastating climate change. As a U.S. federal court recently declared, all people have a right to a stable climate. That will require a rapid cut in the burning of the fossil fuels that emit the greenhouse gases (GHGs) that cause climate change. And one of the easiest, fastest, and cheapest ways to do that is public transit run on clean, renewable energy.

·        Transit justice, in short, is essential for building a just and climate-safe future.

Thursday, August 3, 2017

New LYMMO bus leaves some Parramore residents at the curb

The expansion of the Lymmo free bus service in Parramore is exciting news -- except if you live in Parramore.

Mayor Buddy Dyer, Lynx and other government officials will be holding a ceremony Friday to cut the ribbon for the Lymmo Lime line.

Here’s how the event was described in the week-ahead advisory sent to the news media. “Mayor Dyer will join with Lynx to celebrate LYMMO’s latest expansion with the completion of the Lime Line. The new LYMMO Lime Line provides a critical connection for the Parramore neighborhood to access Lynx Central Station, SunRail and the downtown core.”

Sounds like the service is for Parramore residents. But, it’s not.

If you look at the accompanying map provided by Lynx, it’s clear that the Lime line doesn’t enter the residential area of Parramore – one of Orlando’s historically black communities that is being threatened by gentrification.

The free bus service is focused on serving the federal courthouse, FAMU College of Law, Creative Village and the future UCF/Valencia Downtown Campus, Amway Station and Lynx Central Station.

Parramore activist Lawanna Gelzer said: “That bus is not for us. They don’t want us on that bus. That bus is for people who want to come into the community the neighborhood for business or to go to a game. They want to move us out of here.”

Many Parramore residents are needy, don’t own cars and depend on public transportation. Extending the Lime line just a few more blocks to the south would make the free service easily accessible to hundreds of Parramore residents.

The official press release from Lynx said: “This project was funded by the Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery Program. The purpose of this funding through the U.S. Department of Transportation and the Federal Transit Administration is to generate economic development and improve access to transportation. With a nearly $13 million investment, the LYMMO Lime Line Project has met the intent of the program.”

Friday’s event marks the 20th anniversary of LYMMO that became the nation’s first bus rapid transit system – with its own dedicated lane on the street.

The LYMMO system includes two more lines – Orange and Grapefruit. It’s noteworthy that in addition to government offices and businesses those other LYMMO lines do serve residential areas, including a small portion of Parramore.

Friday’s event will be at 10 a.m. at the northwest corner of North Terry Avenue and West Livingston street.

For more news, please click here.

Sunday, April 30, 2017

Moving in to a Lynx Bus Stop

Most Lynx passengers look for proximity to a bus stop when choosing a new home, but how many have considered living at the bus stop itself?

The other day, we received this photo and note from David Porter, founder of this blog and Have you ever seen anything like this? What would you do if someone started living at your bus stop?

Photo by David Porter
"This is on the north side of Sand lake Road near Voltaire Drive. Sometimes there are people standing at this bus stop because this gentleman is taking up one of the bus benches. This gentleman has been living here for at least three weeks. When I say living I mean morning, noon and night; I pass there at 2 in the morning and he's sleeping with a blanket pulled up on him. Homeless people have the right to sit on a bus bench, but can they just take it over? I wouldn't be surprised if he's carrying out his normal bodily functions within close proximity to this bench. I feel sorry for him, but I also feel sorry for the riders who can't sit down because this guy has made himself at home."

Google Street View of the Bus Stop

Friday, April 14, 2017

From the Bus Bench: Detours + Poor Planning + Poor Decision Making = Epic Lynx Fail

This is the first installment of From the Bus Bench, a new recurring series here on Lynxed Together that will bring you first-person accounts of what it's like to be a Lynx passenger in Orlando, Florida. If you'd like to share a Lynx-related story for From the Bus Bench, email us at I've drafted this first installment ~ Simon

I've said over and over again that given its' limited resources, Lynx does a surprisingly good job of focusing on passengers and getting people where they need to go. But at times, riding Lynx can be an incredibly frustrating experience, as evidenced by two rides I took Thursday (April 13).

Don't misinterpret this as whining or a "woe is me" story, as I'm sure there were hundreds of other Lynx passengers who had just as difficult an experience on the bus yesterday due to missed connections, late buses or any number of reasons. Rather, it's just a snapshot of how poor planning by Lynx and poor decision making by bus operators can complicate even the simplest of Lynx journeys.

I live just south of Downtown Orlando, and travel regularly to downtown in the late afternoon and early evening. It's a 10-12 minute ride, and thanks to frequent service via Links 7, 11, 18 and 40 on Orange Avenue, can usually be accomplished fairly quickly.

The Corporate 5K was going on in Downtown Orlando Thursday night, with some roads closed, and Lynx published a list of links that would be  affected / detoured because of the race.

The list did not include 7, 11, 18 or 40. I normally would arrive at the bus stop at about 6:45 pm to be downtown no later than 7:30. I expected traffic would be heavy with all the street closures, so I arrived at the bus stop 30 minutes early (~6:15) which is 75 minutes before I had to be at my destination, for what should be a 10 minute trip. Should be fine, right? Might even be a few minutes early and have time to grab a quick bite for dinner, right? Nope.

Once onboard Link 7, northbound traffic on Orange Ave started slowing down around Gore, and was bumper to bumper and crawling by the time we reached the 408 overpass. We inched along Rosalind, as traffic was condensed from three lanes down to two, and at Central, to one lane. What should be less than a 15 minute trip took 50 minutes, with nearly 45 minutes of that spent inching along between Gore and Livingston (a 5 minute ride in normal traffic).

I ended up being 15 minutes late to where I needed to be (that's 90 minutes for a 2.5 mile trip) and arrived stressed out and frazzled. I would have made better time on foot.
While Lynx didn't have control over the lane closures, they were aware of them, and should have detoured ALL links that travel on Rosalind to reduce delays during the race. The delays likely cascaded well into the evening, as evidenced by my trip home.

On the way home later in the evening, I arrived at the stop on Orange Ave and Central Blvd to catch the 10:15 pm outbound Link 7. The bus didn't arrive until 10:44 pm (nearly 30 minutes late, presumably due to cascading delays caused by the lane closures during the Corporate 5K). Due to construction on the 408 overpass, southbound Orange Ave was detoured onto Lucerne Circle. What should have been a quick and simple 2 or 3 block detour turned into almost a 20 minute delay that backed up traffic on Orange Ave for who knows how many blocks.

On Lucerne Circle, in front of Lake Lucerne Towers apartments, the driver thought the single traffic lane was too narrow for her successfully navigate. I broadcast the last 6 minutes of the saga on Facebook Live as fellow passengers on the bus grew increasingly frustrated at the delay. The operator refused to even try to navigate the roadway.

After almost 20 minutes, a Lynx supervisor arrived to "direct" the bus thorough the tight lane (something multiple passengers had offered to do) and we were finally on our way. Link 11 successfully navigated the spot on its own moments later.

Including the earlier delay, Link 7 was over 40 minutes late by the time it resumed service.

While I have some reluctance to second guess the bus operator's decision (I'm not a trained bus driver, and understand that navigating a 40 foot bus isn't always easy), it appeared there was more than sufficient room to navigate down the street, especially given the open sidewalk to the left of the bus which could have been utilized if necessary. Causing this delay reflects poor decision making on the part of the operator, and dozens (if not hundreds) of drivers stuck behind the bus were also impacted, in addition to the bus riders.

In total, I spent nearly 2 hours waiting for or riding Lynx buses yesterday for what should have been less than a 25 minute round trip. With better planning and better decision making by Lynx and their employees, these delays could have been significantly reduced or eliminated.

Last month, we argued that Lynx ridership is down because of a new segment of "choice" riders are pivoting away from Lynx for at least some trips, and opting for ride share services like Uber and Lyft. If I had known what awaited me aboard Lynx yesterday, I would have gladly spent the $12-13 and hailed a Lyft for both trips.

Saturday, April 1, 2017

How would you grade the Lynx bus?

What letter grade would you give Central Florida’s Lynx bus service? 

Lynx CEO Edward Johnson gives the bus service an A grade. 

Thursday, March 30, 2017

Gimme shelter!

Do you ever wonder why some Lynx bus stops have benches and shelters but others don’t have anything but a sign? 

That’s one of the questions Lynx CEO Edward Johnson answered during an exclusive interview with our intrepid blogger Simon Duvall.

Click for the answer.

Sunday, March 26, 2017

How long would you wait for a bus?

Ever wish you didn’t have to wait so long for a Lynx bus? During our recent exclusive interview with Lynx CEO Edward Johnson, we asked him what it would take to get faster service. Click here to see Johnson discuss this topic.