Central Florida continues to make progress formalizing regional transportation planning, but when it comes to funding, it can be a bit complicated. And that leaves more questions regarding the ongoing issue of dedicated funding for the LYNX bus system. While Orange County Mayor Teresa Jacobs continues to think about a number of ways to fund LYNX, one of her ideas could be getting new competition from SunRail.
Mayor Jacobs continues to be a strong advocate for increasing the local Rental Car Surcharge Fee, which remains one of the lowest in the nation for tourist destination cities. According to Orange County, Mayor Jacobs would like to see an increase by two or three dollars a day in order to create a reoccurring source of funds for a variety of transportation projects, especially mass transit.
Dedicated funding for LYNX is not specifically a part of the newly passed legislation in Senate Bill 230, which formed a new regional transportation authority (RTA). Although the newly-formed RTA will be tasked with oversight and administration of funding for regional toll roads (existing and planned), it will NOT oversee funding or operations for other regional transportation entities like LYNX, SunRail, or All Aboard Florida. However, it does allow for toll revenues to be used for mass transit as long as the toll revenues are spent within the same corridor in which they are collected.
In other words, if SunRail were expanded to include an east-west line along the East-West Expressway (SR 408), tolls collected from SR 408 could possibly be used for that future segment of SunRail, if not in conflict with bond covenants.
So how is LYNX funded? Currently, LYNX is funded primarily through direct budget dollars contributed by local government.
- LYNX Funding – LYNX is a stand-alone, governmental agency with an operating budget of $127,867,296 for FY2014. The majority (41.6 percent) of the agency’s funding comes from four local funding partners: Orange County, Osceola County and Seminole County, plus the city of Orlando.
- LYNX system-generated funds (fares, advertising, contract services, interest and other income) account for 33.5 percent, with federal funding accounting for 15.9 percent and state funding accounting for 8.8 percent, with a fund balance of .29 percent.
Orange County Funding for LYNX:
As noted in the below excerpt from the Orange County budget, for the current fiscal year of 2014, Orange County allocated approximately $38 million to LYNX.
“The Office of Regional Mobility is responsible for the coordination of regional transportation and economic development related projects and initiatives, including transit and rail related programs. The regional transportation partners include MetroPlan Orlando, Orlando-Orange County Expressway Authority, Florida Department of Transportation, Central Florida Regional Transportation Authority (LYNX), Greater Orlando Aviation Authority, Central Florida Commuter Rail Commission, and International Drive Master Transit and Improvement District. In addition, this office oversees the coordination of countywide Community Redevelopment Area (CRA) related plans and programs with municipal partners.
LYNX is the mobility services agency of Central Florida and provides public transportation services to the general public in the Orlando, Florida metropolitan area of Orange County, Seminole County, and Osceola County. LYNX provides an array of transportation services in the form of fixed-route bus services, door-to-door para-transit services in compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), carpool/vanpool services, school pool matching services, and community shuttle services to special events.
Metropolitan Planning Organization (MPO) assists local governments in the tri-county area with transportation.
The [Orange County] LYNX FY 2013-14 operating budget of $38,087,018 increased by 13.4% or $4.5 million from the FY 2012-13 budget. This is the result of an agreement by the LYNX board to fund LYNX according to the regional transportation model that distributes system costs by service hour in each of the participating counties and municipalities, as well as the inclusion of $765,805 for new and expanded routes.
The Metroplan FY 2013-14 funding contribution is budgeted at $425,932, which is unchanged from the FY 2012-13 funding level. The overall decrease in the Regional Mobility budget is due to the pending completion of the SunRail project with no new capital funds budgeted in FY 2013-14.”
For those interested, here’s a link to the entire FY2014 Orange County budget.