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A glimpse into Orlando’s public transportation network

As interns with Bike/Walk Central Florida, we’ve learned a thing or two about public transportation. We knew the types of transit offered, the pros and cons of different modes, the statistics about ridership. You name it, we’ve probably researched it. But, despite this knowledge, we had never experienced a whole day in Orlando using only public transportation, even though one of us grew up just outside the city.

So, we set off on an adventure to practice what we had been preaching. We journeyed into the depths of Orlando using our feet and a variety of transportation options and emerged as experienced public transit users. Here’s what we thought of the different types of transportation we took that day, and some tips on how to make them work for you, too.

LYNX Bus

We decided to start our day with the reliable and resilient practice of riding a bus – something we became well-acquainted with during our studies at the University of Florida.

All it took was a quick click, and we secured our spots for the ride. The mobile app was user-friendly: we could buy tickets and decide on our route all at one time (our bus happened to be almost at the bus stop, leaving us frantically trying to complete our purchase before it arrived). Overall, the process took about five minutes, and we finalized the order just as the bus promptly pulled up at the scheduled time.

To start our trip, we showed the driver our mobile ticket and hopped on the bus, where we saw riders of all types. With all the families, commuters, handicapped people and event cyclists, the bus exists as an accessible and convenient option for all sorts of outings.

In just three stops (about 25 minutes) we found ourselves at LYNX Central Station in the heart of downtown. The station bustled with commuters going to all different parts of the city, and even to areas outside of Orlando. Inside the visitor’s center, we helped ourselves to some informational pamphlets about bus routes and times. All the information we would need to plan a trip around Orlando was right at our fingertips. 

Walking 

After our bus ride, we set off on foot from the station in pursuit of the beautiful Lake Eola – and ice cream, of course.

The 20-minute walk took us on a winding tour through Downtown Orlando. We passed by restaurants, libraries, parks, clubs and office buildings that touched the skyline. We crossed paths with

drivers multiple times, as we ambled down and across many busy city streets.

Sometimes, crossing the street was a breeze: signalized crosswalks at intersections let us know we had the right of way, which made us feel safe as we stepped off the sidewalk. We also saw a few Rectangular Rapid Flashing Beacons RRFBs (flashing lights that tell drivers a person is about to cross the street) on our route.

But other times, crossing the street wasn’t so easy. Almost immediately after leaving LYNX Central Station, we were almost hit by a right-turning driver who didn’t yield to our pedestrian walk light. Instances like these remind us why Smart Growth America named Orlando the most dangerous city in the country for pedestrians, and why we are working toward safer streets.

Lime Bikes

While we weren’t able to fit a bike ride into our schedule for the day, their prevalence did not go unnoticed. On almost every corner during our walk, we saw pops of bright green – Lime bikes, ready to be ridden – or glimpsed a blue HOPR bike. Whether they were actively being used or parked on a sidewalk, the dockless bicycles were everywhere.

Despite the plethora of bike lanes in downtown, there weren’t many in the area we were walking. So most cyclists chose to ride on the sidewalk. While cyclists stayed out of the way of speeding cars, their presence kept us on our toes, always checking for cyclists behind us.

SunRail

After we indulged on ice cream and walked back to LYNX Central station, we needed to return to the office. A SunRail station stood right next to the bus station. We decided that was the best way to get home, since the Winter Park SunRail station is just three blocks from our office.

The ticket buying process was super easy. After a few clicks and a quick credit card swipe at a conveniently placed kiosk, a ticket popped out to greet us. Before the train arrived, we swiped our tickets at a small machine that starts the trip.

The train pulled up, prompting a bustling crowd of passengers exiting and entering. We found some seats on the second story of the train next to a window where we could watch as we raced away from downtown Orlando, leaving its skyline in the distance. The train itself was clean, quick and efficient – in only three stops, we were back in Winter Park.

A day well spent

When we sat back down at our desks and reflected on the day, we felt something unexpected – freedom. We realized we traveled all over Orlando without putting a key to an ignition even once. And we didn’t realize how easy that could be. Orlando’s public transportation network isn’t a hassle, it isn’t limiting in time or distance – it’s freedom from grid-locked streets and spending a fortune on gas. We’ll both be back on a LYNX bus or riding the SunRail again very soon – and we hope you will too.

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