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 lynxedtogether@gmail.com. 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.

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