Aug. 14--TAVARES -- Residents who take an express bus from south Lake to Orlando will soon have to find another means of transportation.
County commissioners voted unanimously Tuesday not to renew the contract that ends next month for Lynx Route 204, which provides express service from a Clermont park-and-ride lot to downtown Orlando. Service started eight years ago.
"Obviously I thought that in regards to transit, a direct route between Clermont and Orlando was a base part of what could be a good system," said Commissioner Sean Parks. "But here we are today, having the problems."
Tuesday's discussion wasn't the first about the route. Despite protests from riders, commissioners voted last year to decrease the service from five to two buses per day and to increase the fares. The cost of the route from January to the end of the contract in September is $75,162, but its cost was paid by a federal grant.
Ridership has since decreased 89 percent in a single year, dropping from 2,803 trips in January 2013 to 315 in January 2014. By then, the busses were carrying on average only 14 passengers a day.
The annual cost per rider increased from $2,476 in the 2012-13 fiscal year to $5,368 currently, despite the reduced service and increased fares.
"While the service is nice to have, it doesn't pull on my heart strings," said Commissioner Welton Cadwell. "It's not fun to do, but we have got to quit spending money on 204."
Vanpool service has increased, which may be the reason the route's ridership is down, said Dottie Keedy, director of the county's community services. If the service ends, the agency will work with riders to arrange vanpool services.
Lynx will hold a public meeting and then inform the county of the last day of scheduled service.
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