From the Orange County Board of Commissioners
At the February 20th meeting of the Orange County Board of County Commissioners, the Board was presented with a presentation and update on Lynx’s goals and accomplishments for last year, as well as its proposed goals for this year by Lynx Chief Executive Officer Edward Johnson. Where the goals for 2018 build off the major emphases for 2017, Lynx was sure to highlight the following during the presentation: Enhance communications; improve service efficiency; establish more partnerships; improve customer confidence in the Lynx system; and increase brand recognition and community involvement.
To achieve its goal for enhancing communications, Lynx did the following: Conducted semi-annual briefings for funding partners; provided updates to community stakeholders and local governments; proposed significant public engagement opportunities for Lynx Forward; instituted employee town hall meetings; and improved media engagement. As part of its initiative to improve media engagement, Lynx appeared on the Central Florida Spotlight with Greg Warmoth and participated in various radio and print interviews. In addition, Lynx also took part in panel discussions: The Orlando Business Journal (OBJ) Business of Transportation Panel; OBJ Business of Technology Panel; and the Orlando Economic Partnership Transportation Summit.
To help make Lynx more efficient, it avoided $1.7 million of paratransit contractor costs through negotiations and implemented the Mobility Management Service Model. The Mobility Management Service Model is providing changes to the Lynx call center by combining fixed route and paratransit for cross-training opportunities. Additionally, the Model has added private providers to the paratransit system. Furthermore, the Model has offered potential savings of $2 million for Fiscal Year 2018.
Another strategy Lynx had utilized to become more efficient was improve its administration by rebuilding its leadership team. In addition, on the administrative side, pharmacy rebates were increased for the future ($400,000), and by eliminating the broker fee, Lynx saved $160K in costs for healthcare. Lastly, Lynx maintained a 3.5% increase in funding partners without raising passenger fares.
Lynx also improved its efficiencies through Lynx Forward, by establishing continuous route improvements and starting a Lynx Operations Center (LOC) expansion design to consolidate operations and save on expenses. To initiate the LOC expansion, Lynx purchased remaining NoPetro property with the purpose of eventually eliminating a $250K annual lease.
Lynx further improved its efficiencies through cost methods by doing the following: Avoiding an $8 million expenditure for Intelligent Transportation System equipment; establishing a bus mirror rebuild station offering savings of $510 per mirror (new mirrors cost $660 each); saving $500K annually by changing contracts for tire leasing; and modifying its investment strategy to increase income by $200K for Fiscal Year 2017 (anticipating $400K in Fiscal Year 2018).
Lynx has created partnerships with the following organizations: Valencia College; University of Central Florida (UCF); Seminole State College; Orlando City Soccer; CareerSource; the Central Florida Commission on Homelessness; City of Orlando; MetroPlan Orlando; Orlando Economic Partnership; Orlando Utilities Commission (OUC); Greater Orlando Aviation Authority (GOAA); and the Victim Service Center. By collaborating with Valencia College, Lynx had accumulated $70K in annual revenue. Through its partnership with UCF, Lynx had not only generated $220K in annual revenue but promoted UCF’s new downtown campus (opening Fall 2019) by putting wraps on its buses. Similarly, Orlando City Soccer utilized bus wraps to market transportation for the stadium’s grand opening, as did the Orlando Economic Partnership, whose wraps said “Orlando. You don’t know the half of it.” CareerSource offered a significant advantage to Lynx through its partnership by assisting with job placement for bus operators and technicians. In addition, the Victim Service Center participated in “Denim Day” and training for bus operators. At the local government level, Lynx established partnerships with the City of Orlando as well as MetroPlan Orlando to discuss the concept of the autonomous vehicle of operations with the City and MetroPlan. Additionally, in the preparation and aftermath of Hurricane Irma, Lynx’s partnerships with OUC and GOAA played crucial roles in helping Orange County residents. Lynx made 2,831 trips transporting lineman with OUC responding to incident reports caused by Irma. For the SunRail Train to Plane program, GOAA offered fuel to help residents evacuate during the hurricane. Furthermore, as part of its initiative to establish more partnerships, Lynx hosted OBJ CEO Roundtables as well as peer transit agencies with asset transfers.
In improving customer confidence in the Lynx system for 2017, Lynx put Wi-Fi on fixed route buses and created the Lynx Bus Tracker, Paw Pass Mobile Fare Payment (including a revised procurement method saving $6 million), and the NeighborLink Reservation See and Say Security App mobile applications. Lynx was selected for the OBJ Innovations in Technology Award.
To increase brand recognition and community involvement, Lynx encouraged participation from the Executive Team Community Board, preparation for emergency response (i.e. SunRail bus bridges), and offered special shuttles for transit to the Pulse Memorial.
Additional areas for major emphasis for 2017 included the following: Institute a safety awards program for vehicle operators; negotiate the ATU 1596 and 1749 Union contracts; offer Safety and Courtesy training for all employees; offer de-escalation training for bus operators, and institute a Department of the Year Award.
Lynx’s major areas of focus for 2018 include the following: Continue with the 2017 major emphasis areas; establish a CyberSecurity Program and oversight position; create an Innovation and Sustainability Program; develop an Autonomous Vehicle Program Strategic Plan; establish Central Florida transit vision (high level); seek funding for Vision 2030 Corridors; purchase off-board payment systems for key areas; and host a board retreat. Additional areas for concentration include facilities, establishing a research and analysis section, economic impact analysis, and vehicle procurements.
For Fiscal Year 2018, Lynx’s operating budget has been set at $133,483,544 (an increase of $733,846 or .6% from the Fiscal Year 2017 Amended Operating Budget); 49% of this funding is provided by its 4 local funding partners: Orange, Osceola, and Seminole Counties; and the City of Orlando. In addition, according to the December 2017 Board Report, the total system-wide ridership through September 2017 was 1,943,393, representing a 14.27% decrease over the previous year up to September 2016.