CENTRAL FLORIDA REGIONAL TRANSIT AUTHORITY (LYNX) ORLANDO, FLORIDA
Transit Agency Profile and Reason for Selection of Transit Agency
The Central Florida Regional Transportation Authority (CFRTA) was formed in 1994. Initially, public transportation was provided under the official name of Orange-Seminole-Osceola
Transportation Authority (OSOTA), which was formed in 1972. In June 1984, OSOTA changed its operating name to Tri-County Transit, which was later changed to LYNX in 1992. In October 1994, a merger of OSOTA with the former Central Florida Commuter Rail Authority became official, and the merged organization became the Central Florida Regional Transportation Authority (CFRTA). As a successor to OSOTA, the CFRTA continues to be known as LYNX and serves as the focal point in developing all modes of public transportation in the Central Florida region.
A five-member Board of Directors serves LYNX. The members of the Board of Directors include one commissioner from Osceola County, the chair of the Seminole County Board of County Commissioners, the mayor of the City of Orlando, the mayor of Orange County, and a representative of the Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT). Each serves a term as designated by Section 343.63, Florida Statutes. The CFRTA Board of Directors typically meets on the fourth Thursday of each month to conduct the business of the Authority.
The tri-county area, which includes Orange, Seminole, and Osceola counties, remains one of the top growth areas in the country and is one of the premier tourist destinations in the world. The area is ranked as one of the best areas in which to live and work by leading national business publications such as Fortune 500. This area has experienced significant growth in population over the last several years and is expected to continue for the next 20 years. The population was 1.63 million in 2005 and is projected to be 1.84 million in 2010 and 2.39 million in 2025.
LYNX plays a major role in the Central Florida economy. “The Economic Importance of LYNX to Central Florida—2003,” a report by W. Warren Mchone of the University of Central Florida’s College of Business Administration and Department of Economics, provides a comprehensive analysis of LYNX’s role in the Central Florida economy. The report provides several key facts that underline that role of infusing the local economy with federal and state revenue, as well as generating numerous economic benefits for customers, suppliers and other local businesses throughout the region. Some of these key facts include:
• Worst case loss of annual economic output if LYNX were not available: $106.8 million dollars.
• Medium case loss of annual economic output if LYNX were not available: $46.3 million dollars.
• Worst case loss of jobs if LYNX were not available: 4,062. • Medium case loss of jobs if LYNX were not available: 2,029.
LYNX provides fixed-route, paratransit, and vanpool service. Fixed-route bus service is
comprised of 62 routes, called “Links,” serving the tri-county area. The service operates 7 days a week. Weekday operating hours are from 4:15 a.m. to 3:10 a.m. Saturday service is operated from 4:15 a.m. to 1:10 a.m.; on Sunday, service is operated from 4:39 a.m. to 11:30 p.m. LYNX’s active fixed-route fleet consists of 238 lift-equipped buses; currently, LYNX’s peak requirement is 197 buses. LYNX manages the paratransit operation via a single contracted provider. The service is provided with 169 vehicles and is available from 5:00 a.m. to 1:00 a.m. 7 days a week. While federal ADA regulations only require ADA paratransit service within ¾ of a mile of fixed route, LYNX provides ADA service throughout the three-county area. LYNX’s ridership continues to grow to record levels, averaging over 2 million riders per month. In FY 2005, LYNX provided nearly 25 million trips.
Problem Identification and Need for Innovative Security Measures
The majority of Florida’s transit facilities utilized today were designed prior to the events of September 11, 2001. In LYNX’s case, the facilities that LYNX owned (South Street Operations base and the Downtown Bus Station) were over 25 years old. Safety and security requirements were not addressed at the time these facilities were designed and constructed and have, for the most part, been an after-thought/add-on at both facilities.
The South Street operations base complex dates back to the early 1970s when the transit company first began to utilize the facility. The facility was shared with the local school board until the early 1990s when the facility was completely taken over by LYNX. As LYNX expanded, due to increases in ridership in the 1990s, additional leased properties were added to facilitate the needs of expanding operations (the Princeton operations base and the leasing of office space at the school board learning center).
In the late 1990s, LYNX began purchasing property to continue to expand operations to keep pace with ridership demands. LYNX purchased a 27-acre parcel of land in an industrial area to expand the main operation facility with the intent of moving out of the outdated South Street Facility. This new, extremely modern complex is known as the LYNX Operation Center (LOC). The new center will accommodate over 200 additional buses. LYNX will occupy the LOC complex in the fall of 2006.
The old Downtown Bus Station was a ¼ city block complex that had been used since the early 1960s as the main public transit transfer station for LYNX. This structure was remodeled in the early 1980s to address patron needs and operational requirements. The facility design was an open-air structure with 2 bus lanes and 24 bays. The design of this facility did not accommodate 40-foot buses. There were two small customer service windows to handle customer needs and
public restrooms were available. There were no designated public congregation areas or any general use in-door space for the public. Customers and operators were exposed to the weather conditions of the Orlando environment. The location of the Downtown Bus Station did not allow any room for expansion.
With the possibility of a “new start” light rail system and the need to expand existing services to better accommodate customer needs, LYNX chose the current property location for the
construction of the new LYNX Central Station (LCS) building. The basic concept for this facility was to develop a building with an inter-modal design as a critical element as well as combining both administration offices with an attached main bus terminal complex. The LCS’s basic design was developed prior to the events of 9/11; however, security elements not originally developed in the initial design of the building were added prior to the beginning of the
construction phase of the project.
The LCS building includes a six-story administration tower; a patron-accessible, fully air-conditioned terminal with 3 bus lanes and 27 bus bays; and space available for retail use. A larger customer service area was included in the terminal. The LYNX Central Station covers an entire city block bordered by city streets and is directly adjacent to active CSX railroad tracks. LYNX owns all property adjacent to the railroad tracks to allow for future transit or commuter rail connection.
It was acknowledged by both LYNX management and the design team that, with the larger building size and the addition of the administration tower, this complex would need a more aggressive integrated security program than was originally conceived. The additional cost of the integrated security system improvements for the LCS was added to the project’s capital budget after the original bid specifications had been developed and after design and contact bids were awarded. The security system project was contracted for directly through the security system vendor and not through the construction contract. This was done to maintain a higher level of security integrity for this critical piece of work. It was recognized through this process that addressing security issues early during the design phase or construction phases of most transit projects is critical. When neglected early in design additional costs associated with project delays, re-design, limited integration or capability problems can arise.
Previous Attempts to Address Problems and Results
Prior to the 2004 opening of LCS, LYNX had not designed a new building or been involved in the design of a new facility. Facilities were passed on from local funding partners to LYNX. Security was a feature added to an existing facility as a post-original design concept but not an integral element of the original design; hence, the security component was “force fit” into the as-built facility. To assist in addressing potential security issues not addressed by the facility design, LYNX implemented an operational change to the LCS. Unarmed contract security officers were contracted for and put in place to limit access by unauthorized personnel to designated safety sensitive areas,as well as provide an overall increase in the patron perception of security at the LCS.
Reasons for Proposed Solution
Based on the post 9/11 changes to transit in the U.S. and the need to provide a safer and more secure environment for the riding public, LYNX followed and implemented the directives of FTA and APTA. Past Threat and Vulnerability Assessments (TVAs) performed at the LYNX LCS and sponsored by FTA noted that public access was not restricted at the site and safety sensitive areas were not separated and confined. The proposed solution was to use currently available “off-the-shelf” security technology to increase the level of security delivered to these areas which are constantly accessed by LYNX employees. Cameras in public areas are used to provide a means of monitoring without hampering public use. LYNX’s current TVA will be used to benchmark current security measures as well as define the need for future improvements in the security program application.
System Security Program
Based on the pending opening of the new LCS building and the associated security management problems, LYNX started developing a formal authority security program in 2003. The Safety & Security Division was formed and placed under the Operation Support Division in the Transit Operations Department. Once organized, one of the first actions taken by the Safety & Security Division was to develop contract language and then award a contract to a private security company to supply uniformed armed and unarmed officers at all LYNX facilities. LYNX also entered into a verbal agreement with the Orlando Police Department (OPD) to supply off-duty officers at key LYNX facilities on a regular basis during normal LYNX operating hours.
LYNX Central Station (LCS)
In addition to the operational security support, a new integrated security system was also incorporated into the LCS building design. The system now includes cameras that view of all public areas, bus areas, and perimeter entrances and exits. Electronic ID cards and electronically control door contacts have been placed on all perimeter doors limiting access to non-public areas. Entrance readers and a secondary Access Control System (ACS) device (bio-readers) are used to prevent and control unauthorized persons from entering any area that contains money. All of the cameras and accessed controlled doors are electronically recorded in a CCTV control room, which is staffed by members of the contract security force 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. All camera and ID card transactions are digitally recorded for 30 day time spans and archivedfor one year. The CCTV control room monitors all activity in the public areas as well as the
entrances and exits to the non-public areas. In addition, the CCTV also monitors the Information Technology (IT) room as well as all exists and entrances to this room. The IT room houses the main computer system that uses current information technology to interface/integrate all three main LYNX facility locations to one computer based system effectively allowing access and monitoring to properly password protected LYNX staff on the local network. This main computer system also runs the LYNX network and phone systems.
LYNX South Street Operation Base (SST)
The LYNX South Street base is currently being retrofitted with a system-wide compatible camera and perimeter security system that will be networked with and monitored at the LCS CCTV control room. Once completed, CCTV cameras will monitor public accessible areas as well as several other vital areas throughout the complex. All non-public areas will require an ID card to access that area. Because interoperability and growth was a key consideration in
developing the integrated security system standards for the LCS, the same basic design and standards are being used at South Street facility. Currently, the LYNX security force maintains an unarmed security officer at the main entrance of the South Street facility 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
LYNX Operations Base (LOC)
This new facility will be occupied in October 2006 and will have the same integrated security system as the other two LYNX facilities to allow for ease of system integration functions and compatibility. The cameras and door entrance system will be monitored at the LCS CCTV control room. The LYNX security force will have an unarmed officer on property 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
Dome PTZ camera Wall Mounted PTZ camera
BIO- ID card reader Standard ID card reader
LYNX, in partnership with the security contractor, implemented a “Transportation Services” training course. The contactor was responsible to ensure all officers were properly trained to perform the services LYNX required. Additional training on the operation of the LYNX security system, as well as operating and emergency response procedures, were also provided to all designated LYNX and contract security staff. LYNX staff training on the security system was included as part of the integrated security system installation contract.
Multi-camera view DVC recorder
LYNX Central Station (LCS) – lane one
LYNX is entering the second full year of operation of the integrated security system. As part of the installation scope of work, a full maintenance warranty was included. The LYNX Facility Maintenance Team is supporting the mechanical portion of the integrated security system. The installation contractor is supporting the computer and electronic “back-bone” of the system. To reduce any potential increase in long term maintenance costs, LYNX is currently negotiating a full service maintenance contract with the system installer.
Since the integrated security system is relatively new, there is limited historical data available to developed actual cost savings. LYNX has been able to hold the costs associated with the
contract security force and police constant. The ability to document security related events has reduced LYNX’s liability expenses by providing defensible evidence in legal cases directed against LYNX. The LYNX security system has verifiably assisted law enforcement in monitoring and suppressing criminal activity on LYNX property which also represents a substantial cost savings realized by the authority.
Measure Effectiveness of Implementation/Performance Indicators
The integrated security system acting in concert with the LYNX security force program was a new direction for the agency. The system has met LYNX’s expectations and currently exceeds the authority’s needs in its ability to expand well beyond any current facility growth plans. LYNX is still learning about the total capacity of the security system and how best to use it within the organization. However, since the security program and integrated security system were put in place at the same time LYNX entered its new facility, there is no historical data to base any performance results on, but clearly improvements have been noted.
With the assistance of LYNX’s new integrated security system, the current security program is offering a significant increase in reported criminal activity and incidents at the LCS. The reporting of criminal activity at the LCS by contract law enforcement and security officers is greater then that of the old LYNX Downtown Bus Terminal. The new LCS is by far larger in physical size, has more patron boardings per day, is located several blocks from the Old Downtown Bus Terminal, and has a much more advanced ability to document security events. This comparison appears to have identified that LYNX may not have had a criminal activity increase at the new LCS as first thought, but just a much better identification and reporting system via the new integrated security monitoring system.
A survey of LYNX’s customers has identified that they feel much safer in the new LCS facility than they did in the previous location. The perception by LYNX’s patrons of a more secure environment is consistent with customers and employees alike. With LYNX’s current
procedures in place, LYNX will be able to document the effectiveness of the security program over the next few years.
A technology-based system or work force based system alone could not produce the cost effective results needed by LYNX. The combining of the two systems has proven to be very effective in providing a more secure operating environment for LYNX patrons, employees and contractors. The capital outlay for LYNX’s technology-based, integrated security system allows the current expenditure level of its security workforce to remain constant. LYNX now includes a security component in all new facility designs and modifications. Current internal requests for
expansion of the security system to other areas within the LYNX organization denote that
security is a major concern within LYNX and is being addressed. LYNX’s focus is directed both on the internal operations of the transit authority as well externally on public operations. The current integrated security system is being recognized throughout the entire LYNX organization as a needed and valuable program.
LYNX’s proactive approach to develop and implement an all inclusive security program, that includes safety and security both for LYNX employees and its customers, has proven to be successful, based on LYNX’s current experience, the capital outlay, and current
operational/maintenance costs. The program appears to be worth the investment, but it is recognized that the investment and inclusion of security and security systems must take place early in the design process for this investment to realize its real value to a transit system.