What the hell am I doing here? That’s usually the first thing I ask myself immediately after boarding a Lynx bus. I hardly ever ride the city’s public bus and I, a relatively patient individual, can’t stand it; but since I don’t drive a car- it can be convenient and sometimes necessary.
This past Saturday, December 13th, I was making my way to a friend’s graduation party. His house, which is just over 9 miles east of my downtown residence, is a trek that I would normally make on foot. Why? Well, since I don’t drive its the logical second choice. My way may take an hour to arrive and make me a little tired and sweaty, but from my perspective its more comfortable than any public transportation that is readily available in Orlando. I don’t have to worry about rude drivers, panhandling passengers, and a long wait for a bus that you never quite know is tardy or not coming at all.
But on this day for the sake of the Transit Interpretation Project (and not necessity), I changed my ways.
My short trip only required 1 bus, the 104 from Lynx Central Station to the corner of Colonial Drive and Econlockhatchee Trail. Next to me on the bus was a bearded man who wore the look of a long week passed and a long weekend ahead. Decorated around him were three young girls, who’s ages I assume were between 6 and 10. Two of them napped leaning against him, while the the third laid comfortably awake.
Imagine all your friends that have cars, do most of them “live” out of their vehicles? Spare change of clothes in the back seat? Cooler in the trunk? Etc..
They carry around extra things they may need while they’re out, so they don’t have to return home to retrieve them. Well, imagine if you don’t have the option to return home quickly or even return home at all. Being close to 10 miles out can feel like long distance traveling when you’re using public transportation. You pack like you’re camping. Like you’ll be gone for a few days.
Imagine a father and his three young girls who’s journey requires a suitcase full of snacks, jackets, and portable gaming devices to keep them all occupied for a trip that is so long they can nap, wake up, and still have time to play the games before they get home. Imagine minor frustrations with public transportation, add on being responsible for young children, and remove the first word from “sometimes necessary”.
There is a need for public transportation and not just for people who want an afforadable and comfortable ride to a party, but for families who completely rely on this service to survive. A few ideas I have that will help the experience:
* A complete map of the city with the route’s projected schedule at every single Lynx stop.
* A Lynx mobile application with real-time updates of where the hell the buses are at all times, as well as updates if they are off-schedule or not coming at all.
* 24-hour Lynx service everywhere in the city (Maybe not as frequent as every fifteen minutes or every thirty minutes, but at least once an hour in the late hours of the night)
* A consolidated pay system between Lynx and SunRail where the current 30-day unlimited bus pass will also be functional on SunRail without any additional fees.