Cities seek ideas
Following news that LYNX no longer plans to assist partner cities through the implementation phase of FlexBus, Maitland city staff and officials are working on reevaluating how to move the system forward.
Plans for the intelligent transit system’s demonstration phase, which has been in the works for more than a decade, got a flat tire in mid-March following word from LYNX that the bus system had no plans to help implement FlexBus past helping develop its technology. This, along with other correspondence between partner cities and LYNX, Maitland Mayor Howard Schieferdecker said, have forced the cities – Maitland, Altamonte Springs, Longwood and Casselberry – to reevaluate plans for its future.
“I still think we’re kind of in shock. We have to reevaluate the whole situation… We have to regroup and decide what we’re going to do,” Schieferdecker said.
That feeling persisted after the mayors and members of staff from each of the cities met with LYNX CEO John Lewis Tuesday morning after having received a follow-up letter detailing LYNX’s concerns with FlexBus on April 3.
“It’s become readily apparent that they have shifted directions into a different focus than we had,” Maitland Community Development Director, Dick Wells, said.
This misunderstanding, according to the cities, comes into play over it being previously implied in agreements that LYNX would oversee the operator of the system and help apply for federal grant money to fuel the buses after the demonstration phase set to start later this year.
Lewis, in his April 3 letter to the mayors, said LYNX developed concerns over the current scope of the systems plans, citing issues with station locations and possible Title VI conflicts if the system offers service too “premium” for lower-income riders to receive federal funding. He said LYNX will continue to fulfill its agreement to finish outlining the design concept and technology, which is in the final design phase.
Wells said that in Tuesday’s meeting it was apparent that LYNX was planning to focus on utilizing the FlexBus technology research on expanding its existing NeighborLYNX service, rather than investing more into the idea of FlexBus.
Still displeased with the sudden change in course, Wells said Maitland along with the other FlexBus cities are working to draft a letter outlining their grievances to present to the LYNX board of directors this week hoping to spur action to keep FlexBus moving forward on whatever path it can.