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Photo by: Isaac Babcock - SunRail would use the same tracks as Amtrak trains, and now some cities are scrambling for a way to get passengers to stations that are miles away in some areas. FlexBus, a potential solution, was abandoned by LYNX.
Winter Park / Maitland Observer Wednesday, Sep. 4, 2013 9 years ago

FlexBus slow, but moving

Bus could be year late
by: Sarah Wilson Staff Writer

An update on FlexBus at last week’s Maitland City Council meeting boasted a lengthy list of long-awaited good news progress for the recently faltering intelligent transit system, with one major flaw – developers say it won’t be ready until more than a year after SunRail starts rolling through Central Florida.

Maitland Community Development Director Dick Wells said the transportation consulting company for FlexBus, TranSystems, told city staffers at its most recent workshop that the technology for the on-demand bus system may not be ready to roll out until August 2015 – a year and three months from SunRail’s scheduled start date in May 2014.

“There’s been a lot of hiccups in the process,” Wells said. “I don’t think there’s any way its going to be right at the same time SunRail starts, which was the goal from the beginning … There’s just a lot to be done.”

Original plans had the system’s demonstration phase, which would test the technology and refine targeted ridership of the on-demand shuttle services, starting before the end of 2013. But the system hit a snag in March when LYNX pulled out of its partnership with the four partner cities involved in the original agreement to test the first-of-its-kind mode of mass transit.

Maitland City Council members previously referred to FlexBus, and it’s ability to transport non-traditional bus riders from each side from each side of Maitland to the SunRail station without automobiles, as the key to SunRail’s ultimate success in the city.

Wells said he and representatives from the other partner cities – Casselberry, Altamonte Springs and Longwood – are working to push TranSystems to find a way to speed up the anticipated start date to align more closely with SunRail’s launch to keep with the system’s goal of serving rail riders.

“Over a year after it starts, people are going to develop other habits by then we’re afraid,” Wells said.

Despite that setback, Wells and Maitland federal lobbyist Louis Rotundo said FlexBus’ future looks much rosier today than it did a month ago. Issues have been ironed out with the spilt with LYNX, and the Federal Transportation Authority is working to help the cities get access to grant money to get FlexBus moving.

“I think we’re on the right track now,” Rotundo said. “We’re not home, but we’re a long, long way from where we were just two weeks ago.”

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