Altamonte Springs moves on from failed 'Flex Bus,' adds Uber

- The City of Altamonte Springs has signed a deal with ride-share company Uber that will have taxpayers supporting Uber fares within the city.

Anyone who originates and ends an Uber trip inside the city will have taxpayers picking up 20 percent of the fare. That cost will increase to 25 percent if the trip begins or ends at Altamonte's SunRail station.

City Manager Frank Martz said the private sector is a better way to handle these short trips than public transportation.  "Private sector is much more free to innovate, and when we can take advantage of private service like Uber we should."  Martz made it clear that these only applied to trips inside the city.  "All of the money that is going to be spent on this is going to benefit people who are actually in Altamonte Springs."

The city spent millions of dollars in federal, state, and city tax money trying to develop what was called a "Flex Bus" system in concert with Casselberry, Longwood, and Maitland. Martz says they are finally done with that failed plan.  "Sometimes you rise from the ashes and we are disappointed that working with public agencies didn't work out."

Federal tax dollars were used as well for the plan to have people dial up a bus while on SunRail, then it would arrive within minutes of the train to ferry people to their final destination. Congressman John Mica left no doubt he blames Lynx for the failure of Flex Bus to get up and running.  "What didn't get off the ground was thinking at Lynx. Lynx has sometimes been a mindless operation, and has never provided the connectivity, the service that we needed," said Mica.

The city is budgeting $500,000 for the one-year test program, using money left over from Flex Bus. The object is to get people to their final destinations if they take SunRail to Altamonte. Few passengers are boarding the train somewhere else to arrive in the city.

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