Gas tax to be siphoned for transit

A controversial change at transportation planning agency Metroplan Orlando means your gas taxes could soon be going to mass transit. The agency voted this week to allow up to 30 percent of the money that comes to Orange, Seminole, and Osceola counties each year to go for transit projects beginning in 2021. Currently no gas taxes go to transit. Orange County Commissioner Ted Edwards is not happy.

"Now those gas taxes are going to be siphoned off to go to Lynx for bus routes. There's nothing wrong with Lynx but as far as a revenue source, they need to find a revenue source that is appropriate for Lynx, instead of robbing Peter to pay Paul especially when Peter is stuck in traffic and can't move."

Orange County recently identified more than 2 billion dollars worth of road projects they can not afford. Edwards is convinced State Road 50 will have a dedicated bus lane before it is widened.

"We have gridlock in East Orange County on 50 on Lake Pickett on Avalon Park. Numerous roads are failing and we do not have the funds to do it."

Sending 30 percent of the gas tax funding to transit would mean as much as 20 million dollars a year could go to Lynx or Sunrail to shore up their operations. Commissioner Edwards is also upset at the way he feels the vote was rammed through, so much so that he left the meeting after the vote.

"I had more questions and more discussion, and the Chairman of Metroplan, Chairman Swann with less than 5 or 10 minutes of discussion just took the vote, just took the vote, the discussion wasn't over. No one had called the question."

With funds able to go to "transit", Sunrail could be the biggest beneficiary. The gas tax change kicks in for 2021. Coincidentally that is the same year the state stops paying for the operation of Orlando's commuter train, and local governments will have to find a way to run Sunrail.
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