The reappearance of Lynx buses on the streets of south Lake County in recent weeks has been a welcome sight for those who depend on mass transit for their livelihoods.
Many residents in this area work in neighboring counties and count on these buses to ferry them to jobs in Orange and Osceola counties. Without them, some may be relegated needlessly to the unemployment line.
Lynx had discontinued service some time ago between south Lake and those counties but brought it back at the behest of the Lake County Commission, which agreed in October to shoulder some of the cost.
But when the service returned in January, riders discovered that Lynx was offering just eight round-trips a day instead of the 16 it had offered previously. Further, the last trip was at 6:15 p.m., which meant some commuters who worked late had to scramble for a way home.
County commissioners, responding to the anger of their constituents, said this wasn't what they bargained for. They called for Lynx officials to restore the full service -- 16 trips a day, both day and night.
Mass transit is more than a convenience to those who use it. As Daily Commercial Staff Writer Livi Stanford reported in a recent story about Lynx, for many it is a vital lifeline to shopping, medical appointments and, yes, their jobs.
Many commuters who travel to neighboring counties for work don't have the luxury of working 9 to 5 and require access to bus service late into the evening. Some told us that, without it, they are forced to invest significant percentages of their income on cab fare.
This problem is easy to solve. Lynx should heed the request of the Lake County Commission to restore the full bus service. Certainly, the cost of providing that service is an issue. But between the county, Lynx and the riders themselves -- many of whom say they'd be willing to shoulder higher fares if necessary -- the cost consideration can be overcome.
Local officials must come together to solve this problem. This is not just about the individual riders. This is about the economic health of a community whose workforce relies partly on neighboring counties for their jobs.