fb pixel
News To Use

BWCF’s Sean Parks talks Lake County public transit

tri-lake-xpress-300x218BWCF Board Member and Lake County Commissioner Sean Parks recently wrote a piece for the Daily Commercial regarding reducing the costs of public transit in Lake County.

Commissioner Parks understands the impact that growth has on Lake County and their public transportation. That’s why he suggests looking at “cutting edge marketplace options” such as Uber and Lyft and partnering with the business community. This forward thinking is crucial as transportation groups continue to work to get more people out of cars and into other modes of transportation. Check out Sean’s article below.

An idea to reduce the costs of public transit in Lake

By Lake County Commissioner Sean Parks

Originally published in the Daily Commercial 

Lake County is growing so fast. Transit could be beneficial to economic development efforts, reduction in traffic, and protect quality of life. Your Lake County transit system helps low income residents get to work and low-income seniors get to necessary, sometimes life critical medical appointments. It gets people to work, and it takes cars off the road.

However, I believe there is always room for innovation and evaluation of policies and practices that don’t work or could be improved upon. Let’s take a fresh look at transit in Lake County.

It’s time we look at cutting edge marketplace options like Uber and Lyft to determine if we can improve the system. We need to also better partner with the business community in Lake County.

Transit in Lake County is mainly implemented through fixed route (Lake Express) and transportation for the disadvantaged (Lake Connection). Low-cost transportation is provided by Lake Connection throughout Lake County to individuals who qualify according to state statutes. More than 750 trips a day are made by Lake Connection.

The fixed route Lake Express is the traditional bus service, with four routes in north Lake County and one route in south Lake County. Additionally, the fixed route Lynx bus service in the Four Corners area of Lake County helps people get to work and actually brings people into the County to shop at Cagan’s Crossing and Wal-Mart.

Nevertheless, I am concerned about the rising operating cost of transit. Like all urban areas in the US, the federal government mostly funds transit in Lake County. Fares do not cover the cost to operate the system. And there is no guarantee the Feds won’t someday limit or even pull their funding.

The County Commission receives matching dollars from the federal government to support transportation for the disadvantaged. Most of us will agree that it’s better to get a poor senior or severely disabled adult to critical medical care such as dialysis than have them end up in a local emergency room at the expense of County property owners.

I would like for the County to test a pilot project where we utilize a ride sharing program like Uber or Lyft in place of the current transport system for the disadvantaged. The pilot program could start small and would be measured for service and cost effectiveness.

As the pilot program is carried out, we may be able to determine if there are benefits such as lowering fixed route (Lake Express) costs by shifting or reducing fixed route stops and directing group share routes to employment centers in Lake County.

Pinellas Park, a suburb of Tampa, replaced two bus lines with Uber Service and subsidizes $3 per rider. It has proven to be less costly than the original bus service which was 4 times more costly. The City of Altamonte Springs is saving money through its Uber pilot transit Program as well.

Could these programs assist our workforce training efforts by getting people to work and schools like Lake Tech and Lake Sumter State College? Or perhaps the savings could be directed to helping disabled veterans in Lake. Maybe a portion of the savings could be redirected into our reserves.

We owe it to ourselves to at least take a look at collaboration between Uber and Lyft and learn what innovative ride sharing has to offer to Lake County. I encourage residents to get involved in helping to shape the future of Lake County.

Sean Parks is chairman of the Lake County Commission

Tags: , , , , ,