FlexBus service leaves Maitland riders waiting

Sarah Wilson

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Technically, FlexBus buses will be running on-demand to and from Maitland when SunRail rolls into town next week. They just won’t be going where, when or how often local city officials had planned for them to go, or be servicing commuters – or any members of the public – at all.

As of April 1, FlexBus slowly started wheeling its way around the streets of Central Florida, taking LYNX and city personnel to and from seven different stops set up in Maitland, Casselberry, Longwood and Altamonte Springs. This limited four-hour-a-day service launched the intelligent transit system’s three-month “proof of concept” phase, nearly six months later than planned.

The system was supposed to be ready for public release by May 1 and the start of SunRail, said Maitland Community Development Director Dick Wells. Now, he said, the earliest it could roll out would be this fall, if it ever gets the green light at all. The LYNX transportation board will vote in July after the proof of concept phase is complete as to whether FlexBus should continue to a public demonstration phase, or go bust altogether.

“In July everything could end if the LYNX board says it should,” Wells said.

So instead of calling an on-demand bus to take commuters to and from SunRail stations, Maitland riders are challenged with getting more creative when it comes to getting aboard – even if that means skipping the Maitland station altogether.

While LYNX has added an additional fixed-route bus stop outside the Maitland station, Wells said getting around the city once you get there by public transportation isn’t so easy. In order for commuters to get to the workforce hub of the Maitland Center, he said Central Florida’s reThink Your Commute has in some cases suggested riders coming in from the north pass through Maitland and get off in Winter Park instead, where bus service makes heading westward easier.

“We’re trying to tackle that issue and see if we can work with Orange County and LYNX to set something up that makes more sense than going all the way to Winter Park … but in the context of what’s available right now as far as LYNX service, it’s the best we have to offer,” Wells said.

“There’s virtually nonexistent services to get over there, from here at least.”

Wells said reThink is also working with Maitland Center businesses to draft vanpooling and carpooling options from the SunRail station for employees who opt to take the train.

Or, Wells said, if all else fails, there’s always the two-wheeled old-fashioned way, with plenty of space on the SunRail trains to bring along your bike.