Effective September 15, Lake County Florida stopped funding a three-mile portion of a local bus route because of “budget concerns.” In response, riders were understandably outraged. Along those three miles were low-income housing units and a store that served as the only grocery store for miles.
Central Florida Jobs with Justice linked the bus riders with community supporters through its Transit Riders Union project and began putting pressure on the County and Lynx bus service to restore the route to full capacity.
On the morning of October 7, riders staged a march along the cut portion of the route and brought along a Lake County Commissioner. After walking along the highway with no sidewalks and through construction at five o’clock in the morning, the Commissioner was convinced of the need to restore the route. But the fight didn’t end there.
Riders packed hearings at city hall, organized calls to elected officials, and organized supporters to send emails and place calls of their own to support the riders in their fight. Later in October, the Lake County Commission finally relented, funding the route once every hour instead of once every half-hour (which the riders still consider a huge victory).
The riders’ fight isn’t done yet, though. On December 4, at a meeting with the Lynx board of directors, the riders can expect final approval of the route. They plan on being out in mass to ensure their victory is finally achieved.
Rider Celeste Clifford had this to say about the win, and the fight still yet to come in Central Florida:
“We did not take “no” for an answer, and “yes” was the result. We came together as a community. It is your fight that won this battle, and it is this same fight that can win the war. Next step is dedicated funding so that our bus service can stand on its own two feet. I look forward to coming together with public transportation riders statewide as we unite for our next endeavor.”