Clean Air Commute Blog: The Not-So-Accidental LYNX Rider

Posted on: May 30, 2019 in Air Quality & Environment

About half of MetroPlan Orlando staff members get to work some way other than driving alone – at least one day a week. As we close out the month of May — recognized as Clean Air Month, a time to examine how habits affect the environment – some of our staffers are sharing stories from their commutes.

Today’s commuter story comes from Mary Ann Horne, Community Outreach Strategist. Mary Ann regularly uses the clean air commute strategy of riding LYNX,  and her home in south Orlando is served by several bus routes. That’s not an accident; it’s the result of a choice she and her family made when they decided to move. Here is Mary Ann’s story:

Nothing was running on time as I tried to get off to work on a recent morning – except LYNX. So I missed the bus I wanted.

No problem. (Or “np,” as my daughter says in her texts.)

I have the luxury of bus service between my home in south Orlando to downtown about every 15 minutes, during peak hours. In the mornings, I can take my very-early-to-work bus, my early-to-work bus, my on-time-to-work bus, and my close-enough bus. Buses run on a street 1 block west of my house and two blocks east. At this point, they are funneling in from OIA, Kissimmee, Florida Mall, and other places to LYNX Central Station. So I have plenty of choices.

I check the LYNX real-time tracker on my phone to see who’s closest and dash to the east. This bus stop is on a residential street, where commuters share the sidewalk with joggers and dog walkers, as we wait.

My on-time-for-work bus is pretty full, but there’s a seat available. My future seat-mate sees me eyeing it and scoots over. Sometimes neighbors say they want to “get the buses off our street.” As I look around, I wonder how they think all these folks would get to work. Distracted by this thought, I almost leave my 30-day pass in the fare box. The bus driver plucks it out and hands it to me with a chuckle.

In the year or so that I’ve ridden the bus regularly, I have yet to encounter a LYNX driver who wasn’t courteous and reasonably good-humored. I wonder if the tales of surly bus drivers are largely urban transit myths (or anomalies) sort of like the “buses-are-always-empty” myth.

I realize I have an unusual bus commute for Central Florida. Many passengers have long rides, transfers between routes, much less-frequent service. I know that. But my commute didn’t happen by accident.

When our family decided to move from our home of 18 years in east Orlando, we made a list of priorities. Walkability and transit access were near the top. We wanted to walk, bike, and take transit to as many of our regular destinations as possible. Our next goal is to give up one of our automobiles in the next couple of years. Right now, we seem to be on track. (Pun intended, because I wanted to mention that sometimes we ride SunRail; there’s a bus that can take us from home directly to the station.)

My on-time-for-work bus lets me off about three blocks from the office. Since it’s the first day of summer vacation, I miss saying hello to the school safety people who are usually outside the Christ School in the mornings, as I walk by.

My daughter texts me: “You left your lunch at home.” Sigh. I reply: “np.” Because, like all seasoned transit commuters, I’m prepared. In this case, that means canned soup waiting in the desk drawer.

This is the end of the road for our Clean Air Commute Blog. Previous stories looked at super-commuting & teleworking; transportation options in Downtown Orlando, and two views of SunRail.  Remember: EVERY MONTH SHOULD BE CLEAN AIR MONTH. If you have a Clean Air Commute story you’d like to share, please email it to pr@metroplanorlando.org.

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