By Jeff Weiner - Local and federal officials hailed the latest expansion of Orlando's rapidly growing commuter-bus service Thursday, breaking ground on a new Lymmo line aimed at connecting the Parramore neighborhood to the heart of downtown.
The Lime Line, expected to debut in late 2016, will add nine stops and 2.1 miles of service to the bus program.
Local and federal officials hailed the latest expansion of Orlando's rapidly growing commuter-bus service Thursday, breaking ground on a new Lymmo line aimed at connecting the Parramore neighborhood to the heart of downtown.
Among those stops, the line will link the Parramore and Callahan neighborhoods with SunRail, the federal courthouse, Florida A&M University College of Law, the Amway Center and the Creative Village, officials said.
"Transportation is a major thing, especially here in the Parramore area, where transportation for many of our residents is a challenge," said Commissioner Regina Hill, whose district includes those neighborhoods.
Officials expect the line — once the planned Creative Village is completed — will eventually move 4,500 passengers daily.
"When this Lime Line is finished, and when the Creative Village is up and running, we will almost double [Lymmo] ridership," said Lynx CEO John M. Lewis Jr.
Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer further linked the two projects, saying that Thursday's Lymmo groundbreaking "kicks off the construction of Creative Village."
Both efforts are making use of federal-grant funding, and city officials were joined by Acting Administrator Therese McMillan of the Federal Transportation Administration.
Lynx's Lymmo service, first developed in 1997, is a free commuter-bus service that runs throughout the downtown area, stopping at government buildings, including City Hall, as well as entertainment venues and shopping.
Dubbed a "rapid transit" service, it relies on its own lane and traffic-signal controls to move quickly among stops.
According to the city, once it's up and running, the Lime Line will offer buses at stops every 10 minutes during peak hours and 15-minute service in off-peak hours, such as evenings and weekends. It will have dedicated lanes on about half of its route.
Lymmo service has grown significantly in recent months.
Primarily a north-south service along Magnolia Avenue when it first started, Lymmo last year added an east-west route, the Grapefruit Line.
That line already dips into Parramore, running as far west as Westmoreland Drive on Church Street, before turning back east on Central Boulevard. The Callahan neighborhood doesn't currently have Lymmo service.
Lynx also recently debuted an expansion of its original Orange Line into the North Quarter district of downtown.
Dyer said the Lime Line, which represents a new link from Orlando's most economically depressed district to the rest of downtown, represents "the continued investment that we're making in the Parramore neighborhood."
Added Hill: "In order for our residents to come out of the community and find jobs or go to jobs ... we need Lynx, we need SunRail."