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corpkid

What's wrong with LYNX?

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I took LYNX for the first time the other day from the central station down to Universal Studios. Figured since I'd be drinking at the clubs, this was a great opportunity to ride the bus.

Well, it was an experience... First off - the bus that comes by my house (corner of Eola & Central) gets me to the central station about 40 minutes before the next bus to universal. That's a pretty long wait. So I decided I'd be "risky" and drive the eight blocks over (yeah, I could have walked but it was one of those 2000 degree summer days). Um, WTF do I put my car for eight hours? I ended up having to park in the centroplex parking garage and pay 10 bucks. Luckily when I left there were no attendants and the gates were wide open (yea! Free Parking) :thumbsup: .

The ride itself took about an hour - which is long but expected on Public Transportation. Too bad there are not express routes. Oh well.

Here's the kicker, though. The last bus leaves Universal at 10:45PM... Um, a bit early, no? Okay, well I'm tired anyways - that'll work this time. Um, wait, nope. The bus was nearly one hour late. I asked a person waiting with me who appeared to be a regular on this route "is the normal" to which she replied "you can set your watch on it". :o

I kept thinking the whole time I was on the bus ride home "if these people had cars/licenses, they wouldn't be on this bus..." I know that's sad, but I lived in NYC for quite a few years without a car and I'm rather familiar with efficient public transportation. I loved NOT having a car (you

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Wow! Sad. I think Orlando is still not thinking "public transportation" for its solution to the conjestion all across central Florida. At least not yet. Being from NYC, I know public transit very well and even NY has its flaws. But at least NY embraced it early in its growth, before the city became what it is today. With all this talk of a light rail and high speed rail, maybe they should just fix what we have first before they take on other large projects in public transit. Just my 2cents worth.

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Truthfully, I don't think Lynx is the problem, I think its Orlando! A city as spread out as Orlando plus public transportation is bound to take longer than normal. I bet your ride would have been shorter if that light rail was up and running between downtown and I Drive.

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My experience with LYNX is quite positive (unfortunately, they're TOO on-time for me to use them). I work at UCF, and my route leaves precisely on the hour, and is never late. Unfortunately, I get off of work precisely on the hour, so if I want to ride the bus I have to stay an hour late... :(

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Yeah, Lynx is the best deal in town going to and from the airport, but again it cuts off too early around 8 PM. Starts very early in the day though - a little after 5:30 AM I caught it at the end of my street. It sure beat paying taxi or parking, and seemed perfectly safe with mostly airport workers riding. I never take more luggage than I can handle myself, so it suited me fine and I will do it again. It ran on time and was not too long of a trip either - about 30 - 40 minutes. It's so great to take advantage of good train service like New York or even Atlanta. Ahhhhh, someday I hope we can say the same for Orlando. We can dream! :rolleyes:

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Yeah, Lynx is the best deal in town going to and from the airport, but again it cuts off too early around 8 PM.  Starts very early in the day though - a little after 5:30 AM I caught it at the end of my street.  It sure beat paying taxi or parking, and seemed perfectly safe with mostly airport workers riding.  I never take more luggage than I can handle myself, so it suited me fine and I will do it again.  It ran on time and was not too long of a trip either - about 30 - 40 minutes.  It's so great to take advantage of good train service like New York or even Atlanta.  Ahhhhh, someday I hope we can say the same for Orlando.  We can dream! :rolleyes:

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>

I fly out of MCO on avg. twice a month... I'm thinking I will try lynx for that next time - I'll investigate the options... This really was my trial run - much better to be late to universal than to the airport, right? :lol:

As for the "it's orlando...sprawl" comment - recall I used to "extreme" commute DAILY in NYC via mass transit (took the #6 subway to 125th street - connect to the metro north train then connect in Tarrytown with the tappan zee express bus over the Tappan Zee bridge to the third stop in Nyack)... It was a 35 mile commute from downtown Manhattan to "upstate" New York - everyday- yeah, it sucked and took two hours, but it worked reliably!. Every single weekday. It was always ontime (give or take 5 minutes). I can honestly say I'm mass transit-familiar... and I think lynx sucks. Let's turn this converstaion towards why lynx sucks (because it does) and what could be done to fix it :unsure: ...

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I fly out of MCO on avg. twice a month...  I'm thinking I will try lynx for that next time - I'll investigate the options...  This really was my trial run - much better to be late to universal than to the airport, right?  :lol:

As for the "it's orlando...sprawl" comment - recall I used to "extreme" commute DAILY in NYC via mass transit (took the #6 subway to 125th street - connect to the metro north train then connect in Tarrytown  with the tappan zee express bus over the Tappan Zee bridge to the third stop in Nyack)...  It was a 35 mile commute from downtown Manhattan to "upstate" New York - everyday- yeah, it sucked and took two hours, but it worked reliably!.  Every single weekday.  It was always ontime (give or take 5 minutes).  I can honestly say I'm mass transit-familiar... and I think lynx sucks.  Let's turn this converstaion towards why lynx sucks (because it does) and what could be done to fix it  :unsure:  ...

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>

I'm from NYC too and I really miss a reliable system of mass transit. What you have to remember about Orlando is that it is spread out and we only have buses. These buses have to sit in the same traffic and stop at the same lights cars do. The NY trains have private tracks so no matter how bad the Major Deegan is they are going to get where they need to go. Why there isn't an express from downtown to Universal is way beyond me.

I really hope Orlando embraces some form of mass transit soon and that it runs on seperate tracks from automotive traffic. I know that it won't be soon, and when it is running the hours offered will probably suck. Nevertheless I remain hopeful.

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The main problem with Lynx is that it is not a private automobile, and as such, the overwhelming vast majority wants absolutely nothing to do with it. Most who do use it, do so because it is an option of last resort, or happens to be convenient to dash to the airport or such. Orlando isn't NYC; what works there probably will not work here. For those that need it, its great that Orlando has Lynx, and a nice clean new station. If you want to discuss 'suck factor', then let's talk about Lymmo ... or why they stopped running electric shuttle buses between Thornton Park and downtown.... or why some parts of I4 are still only 2 lanes ...

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So if Lymmo were to be expanded along Church and Central Corridors, what would anyone think about this... or would the pedi-cabs going from Thronton Park to Downtown suffer, will anyone utilize it now (the Bolt was before it's time, noone rode it except for middle-school kids). Where else to you see Lymmo expanding?

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With all of the development going on in Thornton Park/South Eola, I think it would a very wise move to get Lymmo service circulating around Central/Church.

-First off, a larger route network will draw higher yields.

The current circuit through the central business district does not pass through any significant residential areas, so it's hard to believe that many commuters currently use Lymmo. With new service to Thornton Park, I think many people would be able to use the system to commute to their work on the other side of downtown. Having such a system in place would also be a huge draw for potential buyers in the downtown market. As attractive as the neighborhood already is, it would be even more popular if its residents could take attractive, clean, free public transportation to get to work, centroplex events, or for a night on the town instead of driving, walking, or hailing a pedicab.

Also, if commuter or light rail ever make stops at the Lynx Central Station, those transit modes would be connected to the eastern downtown neighborhoods via the extended Lymmo service. Even if we were to get a light rail system (definitely not in the near future), it is unlikely that its first phase or two will have a comprehensive downtown route structure-- most likely it will be less than a handful of stops along the same north-south route.

Currently on Central Blvd., traffic is frequently held up by the slow moving pedicabs that are riding along the 2-lane street. To add to that, Central features double yellow traffic separation lines, so it's technically illegal to pass. Perhaps a dedicated bus lane created by Lymmo would be able to be used by the occasional pedicab to allow for free-flowing traffic on the boulevard.

I don't think the pedicabs will suffer, as Lymmo will most likely cater to commuters and not so much the late night drinking crowd that the pedicabs draw. People will continue to hail pedicabs for their freedom and novelty. That freedom (and privacy) allows regular taxi's to flourish in New York despite the city having an extensive bus and subway system. The pedicabs and Lymmo should be able to coexist in Orlando.

Looking at the map of proposals in "The Homemade Renderings Thread," it appears that expansion of the Lymmo system to Uptown will eventually be necessary. Perhaps the line could run north along Orange Ave. starting from the Central Station or from existing Courthouse stop along North Magnolia.

As it is right now, I don't see Lymmo being used all that much, but I think it's only a matter of time. It's a very clever system, and best of all it's free. Once more residents move downtown and the system is expanded, I can see it becoming very popular. New downtown residents will use it to commute to work, attend events at the arena, shop (eventually), eat out, bar hop, transfer to the Central Station, etc. I think a lot of cities would kill for a downtown bus system as nice as ours. We should do our best to expand it.

....and it's free!

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Are plans to extend the LYMMO to Baldwin Park and up to the hospital still on track ? and if so, what's the timetable ?

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I fly out of MCO on avg. twice a month...  I'm thinking I will try lynx for that next time - I'll investigate the options...  This really was my trial run - much better to be late to universal than to the airport, right?  :lol:

As for the "it's orlando...sprawl" comment - recall I used to "extreme" commute DAILY in NYC via mass transit (took the #6 subway to 125th street - connect to the metro north train then connect in Tarrytown  with the tappan zee express bus over the Tappan Zee bridge to the third stop in Nyack)...  It was a 35 mile commute from downtown Manhattan to "upstate" New York - everyday- yeah, it sucked and took two hours, but it worked reliably!.  Every single weekday.  It was always ontime (give or take 5 minutes).  I can honestly say I'm mass transit-familiar... and I think lynx sucks.  Let's turn this converstaion towards why lynx sucks (because it does) and what could be done to fix it  :unsure:  ...

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>

I think you just want something to be wrong with Lynx without taking Orlando itself into consideration. However, if Lynx were to improve its service, I would like to see more terminals around town. I know there are plans for one in downtown Kissimmee. There should be another out in the attractions area near the convention center and another in the Northern suburbs.

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Lynx sucks for many reasons, but I'll focus on three (although I think it's worth noting that Lynx has its hands tied much of the time and as such seems confined to suck).

1. Growth and development in Central Florida are occurring too quickly and at densities too low for transit service to keep up. Minimum density for a light rail station to warrant regular service (and not simply inbound morning peak and outbound afternoon peak) is 30 dwelling units per acre. Average densities in Orlando's Traditional City overlay area are roughly 8, which will increase somewhat with new condominium construction (though not nearly to 30: remember that the new construction is in a very small area). With current development proposals 10 DU/acre citywide is still an ambitious target. And the Traditional City is by far the densest: unincorporated Orange County probably has a net density (net being dwelling units in subdivided, developable areas only) of 3 to 5. And the other counties are even worse.

Even for efficient bus service we should expect a minimum of 15-20 DU/acre. Anything less and we cannot possibly expect headways of less than thirty minutes.

Development is occurring as the market dictates. Land here is still relatively cheap, and people want houses with garages and backyards. The building patterns in the central Orlando neighborhoods are well-established: small, relatively poor Southern towns were not building Northern-style apartment buildings 80 and 100 years ago; they were building single-family, wooden frame houses. Now they are historic and the city greatly restricts their destruction for denser housing infill. This keeps the local development paradigm from including small-scale infill as a valid option, so developers either go with larger high-rises (which are highly speculative and only account for a small portion of the new construction) or conventional suburban patterns (which are much more stable and account for the overwhelming majority of what is built).

Basically, we are density-free and seem destined to be for a long time. Private property rights, historic preservation, and cheap land all intersecting in a fantastic, ironic way to keep transit utterly unfeasible.

2. Lynx's planning responsibilities have been usurped by the Florida DOT. Lynx's charges now include little more than operations and facilities management (and there ain't much: metal signs need to be replaced only every once in a while).

Unlike with the North-South light rail corridor, Central Florida Commuter Rail is a FDOT project. True, LYNX routes can be replanned to coordinate service with a rail corridor and use it as a primary spine route, but how can LYNX better respond to local 'bubbles' in the system if it can no longer plan for itself?

3. Efforts to develop Central Florida's transportation infrastructure have either failed or posed such great inefficiencies that they risk hurting the system in the long run. North-South commuter rail failed, and local proponents still grind teeth over the political stupidity that sank it. As touched upon in the last point, without a higher class of transit service (e.g. rail, which can move over longer distances more quickly due to grade separation and different conveyance), bus routes will never be able to be recalibrated to serve a greater distribution of local areas. Express buses are an option, but as it has been pointed out on the board, they sit in the same traffic and follow the same routes as cars. Clearly local support for fixed guideways is not strong enough to make them really work as they are intended: the LYMMO buses downtown operate on a dedicated lane, but they do not have preemption over signal timing schemes (meaning they do not trigger the light to turn green for them when they approach, often waiting on empty cross streets who have a green light due to a larger system of signal timing). The result is that it can still take you several minutes just to move from one side of the CBD to the other. Imagine that kind of inefficiency on a commute from Lake Mary to downtown, or as another poster has witnessed, from downtown to Universal. You're taking your car instead.

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Lynx sucks for many reasons, but I'll focus on three (although I think it's worth noting that Lynx has its hands tied much of the time and as such seems confined to suck). <snipped>

Very well put - thanks for the insightful post! As a previous poster said, perhaps I am too quick to blame Lynx and not Orlando...

Do we keep throwing 12 lane roads at the problem, though? I mean, I've NEVER seen sprawl like this - ever... What are sister cities doing to combat this problem?

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I've always considered Orlando to be a miniature version of Los Angeles, minus the gradients in topography. Both are large sprawling metro areas with downtowns that have been historically less significant that what the cities are known for. They also both have a number of theme parks (L.A. too has Universal and Disney, along with Six Flags). L.A., however, has yet to fully embrace public transportation and takes great pride in its automotive roots. I can definitely see Orlando following in its footsteps at the rate we are going. Without the support for mass transit, we are en route to becoming reliant solely on a network of massively congested highways.

For a sister city that is currently in our situation, I look to Las Vegas. Orlando and Las Vegas are eerily similar in a number of ways, some of which include:

-Metro populations of similar size (Orlando about 2M, Las Vegas around 1.5M)

-Both cities' rapid growth have been a result of tourism

-Both lead the nation in business conventions with the largest convention centers in the country

-Both are experiencing explosive growth and similar suburban sprawl

-Both are also currently experiencing a tremendous amount of condo construction in the city core

-McCarran International (LAS) and Orlando International (MCO) airports draw near 35M passengers per year

-And both cities currently have little in the way of public transit

Las Vegas recently opened a monorail that travels up and down the strip, but prior to that only had a few short monorail/tram systems to transport people between hotels under the same ownership. Pretty much like Orlando with Disney and Universal. Oh, and both cities have had high-speed rail proposals sitting on the back-burner for about the same amount of time.

It will be interesting to see how each city handles its growth compared to the other. Only problem is, I think Las Vegas is a bit more progressive than Orlando in dealing with such matters.

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^Indeed, Las Vegas (and Nevada) are much more progressive than Central Florida with strong, unified central governments. I would bet that Las Vegas impliments an extensive system before Orlando any day of the week. Further, their sprawl (which I don't like necessarily) is denser than Orlando's--more on line with California sprawl.

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Actually, Otlando only scores in the middling range, of surveys I've seen relating to sprawl.

And also in the middling range in terms of connute time. One survey I read showed Orlando and more-enlightened-than-thou Portland with basically the same commute time.

Now I'm not arguing against improvments, mind you.

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One may say that Las Vegas has the more progressive leadership. Even still, Orlando may well get commuter rail before LV.

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In 1999, Orlando was ranked as the 10th worst city in the nation for traffic congestion.

City (Annual Delay in Hours)

1. Los Angeles (56)

2. Seattle-Everett (53)

3. Atlanta (53)

4. Houston (50)

5. Dallas (46)

6. Washington D.C. (46)

7. Denver (45)

8. Austin (44)

9. St. Louis (42)

10. Orlando (not listed)

23. Portland-Vancouver (34)

In 2002, Orlando was ranked 14th (66 hours), while Portland-Vancouver ranked 23rd (47 hours) and Las Vegas ranked 37th (38 hours).

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Hold on a second. When I lived in Chicago my commute time to downtown averaged 35 minutes. On the Brown Line of the L. If I lived in Longwood I'd expect a downtown commute time of 35 minutes, but in a car. I can only fathom a guess as to what kind of time the patient souls commuting on LYNX to downtown from the Seminole County suburbs spend in that bus every day.

One might argue that the time-per-distance ratio of a car wins, even in relative urban congestion. That is correct. But I have other factors to consider than time. My CTA pass cost $75 a month. No insurance needed (none available, for that matter), no gas, no maintenance costs (I can't choose where I allocate what I pay in taxes; if I could I'd dump 80 percent of it into schools and transit alone). My car at the time, which was paid for, cost $50/month in insurance because I unlawfully kept it registered in North Carolina until I got rid of it. Had I registered it in the city my insurance would have been more to the tune of $160-180 a month. And then the occasional gas, paying for parking, scraping off windshield ice in winter, etc. It quickly made sense what to do (although it was always my plan).

To compare overly generalized statistics without appreciating context is to run the risk of unintentionally lying with numbers. Portland and Orlando may have similar commute times on average, but that's because bikes and buses move more slowly than cars. Last time I checked, far more people in Portland were using them than in Orlando. Well noted that you are not against improvements: wouldn't it be a great thing if those could help decrease commute times to where Portland's was greater?

To bic, who thinks of Orlando as a small LA, I agree. All the telltale signs are there (environmental degradation, reining in of natural features, the necessity of growth for economic sustenance). The only real wrinkle is that LA actually has money. Were anything to happen to its top industries, there would be plenty of others to keep things from complete collapse: import/export, tourism, finance, manufacturing, entertainment (a huge industry as long as there are masses out there), to some extent a smaller, more opaque network of product design and development firms. In Orlando, we operate on working capital fueled by tourism and construction/development. If both of those were to take a beating (i.e. sustained nasty hurricane seasons and the burst of the housing bubble), it may be time to start packin'.

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But to acknowledge that bikes and buses move more slowly than cars is to acknowledge that cars get folks to work more quickly than at least two generally lauded forms of 'alternative transit'.

Just thought I'd point that out. ;)

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One may say that Las Vegas has the more progressive leadership. Even still, Orlando may well get commuter rail before LV.

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>

For Orlando, it is a long time coming (and the citizens generally are still not convinced), for Las Vegas it is relatively fast and like was said before, the citizens understand the need for mass transit.

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