In the wake of the terrible shooting in Orlando, Florida on June 12, many people and organizations stepped up to help those affected by this tragedy. One of those organizations was the public bus service, Lynx.

LynxOrlandoLynx is the regional public bus agency in Orlando, Florida. It provides fixed route bus service over a 3-county region (the area of which is larger than Delaware). The agency provides over 100,000 rides every weekday and made a record 30.1 million passenger trips in 2014.

The shooting at Pulse nightclub occurred at the southern edge of downtown on the main thoroughfare leading to the heart of downtown Orlando, the hospital, and the central bus station.

Immediately following the shooting, authorities shut down Orange Ave. – the main road that runs past Pulse Nightclub. In response to this, Lynx had to reroute four lines (7, 11, 18, 40 – area highlighted above) over a one and a half mile stretch of the Avenue and relocate 8 stops. This area generates a good number of trips for the agency. There are multiple shopping centers, restaurants, retail shops, a commuter rail station, and of course the hospital along the corridor.

In order to keep the city moving despite the tragedy, Lynx quickly assigned temporary stops and signage along the affected routes, which allowed their riders to access essential points like the hospital, doctor’s office, and grocery store.

The agency also took to social media to alert their riders of the closures, handed out leaflets, and reached out to traditional news outlets as well in order to share information about the detours and temporary stops.

Lynx also assisted with transportation to the Family Assistance Center (located temporarily at the football stadium) for the families of victims and provided free bus service to over 1,000 riders on June 19 for the vigil service.

“Lynx effectively navigated a major and unexpected disruption to its bus service while ensuring that in a time of crisis, riders could still move through and access the affected urban area,” said Elizabeth Whitton, a transportation planner with MetroPlan Orlando.

Cky-j1xUgAEH-2oEdward Johnson, CEO of LYNX (and an alum of Eno’s Transit Senior Executive Program) added, “LYNX’s primary role is to ensure we move the citizens of Central Florida from their homes to places of employment, entertainment and so forth safely and efficiently. But, also we support the community in time of need. While maintaining detoured routes along the affected corridor, our employees coordinated transportation support for the City of Orlando for families of the victims of this tragic event and coordinated a transportation solution to minimize traffic congestion in the city center for a candlelight vigil with more than 50,000 people in attendance.”

Lynx was not the only transportation organization to step up however. The Florida Department of Transportation, which operates commuter rail service in the region, ran special SunRail service during the June 19th vigil and JetBlue has offered free flights to Orlando for relatives and partners of victims.

Public transportation – be it bus, rail, or plane – touches every aspect of a community. Lynx, SunRail, and JetBlue are a part of many people’s lives every day. These organizations stepped up when they were needed most and demonstrated how critical their services are in times of crisis. Their timely and organized response helped many continue on despite this tragedy.