POINCIANA – In the busy summer months, as people tend to do more traveling, two non-profit organizations in Poinciana are quietly working behind the scenes, making a concerted push to find better ways for people to get around than in their cars — and seeing results.
“We do have a big population here in Polk County,” said Nick Murdock. “And there hasn’t been any public transportation coming in here for a while.”
Murdock is the chairman of the Poinciana Economic Development Alliance, which is working to bring more jobs and economic development to the community of 84,000 residents, who are living in 10 villages that cut across Polk and Osceola counties. And transportation remains a top goal as well for them.
“One of our goals for development on the Polk County side of south Poinciana is putting new transit hubs up there,” Murdock said.
A second is ensuring that the Poinciana Parkway, a new toll road, gets built.
PEDA has already met with Tom Phillips, the executive director of Polk Transit, which has proposed a “pick up” bus service on County Road 580/Johnson Avenue from the Wal-Mart to U.S. 17/92 and the Hinson Shopping Center, where there will be transfer buses. Phillips will be discussing this proposal and others at the monthly meeting of Poinciana Residence For Smart Change, a local civic group, at the Poinciana Library on Doverplum Avenue on Monday, July 23 at 9:30 a.m.
Keith Laytham, the president of PRSC, said there will be more good news to share at the meeting. The Lynx bus system, which operates buses in Poinciana, just announced that it was making changes to its Lynx 26 peak hour bus service, making it available every 30 minutes now in the community.
“That’s significant,” Laytham said, adding that it was a direct result of Poinciana residents lobbying for more trips, because the 26 bus was often very crowded.
“The Lynx system responded to the overcrowding on the Lynx 26 line — which is the main one between Poinciana, Kissimmee and the Osceola Square Mall — and they now run it every half hour rather than every hour,” Laytham said.
“That’s a great result,” Murdock said. “The new rush hour bus that was added every 30 minutes, that’s a big win for the community.”
Murdock said everyone involved in these efforts deserves to be congratulated for their hard work in making this a reality. Improved transportation access, he said, enhances the quality of life for local residents, while at the same time it makes Poinciana more attractive to new businesses. It’s all part of what Murdock called their transportation and transit goals to make “Destination Poinciana” a vibrant and prosperous community.
He still wants to push for routes that will specifically go to the new Poinciana Medical Center, which will open next summer, and to get Sunday service and bigger buses.
Laytham said he thinks both counties will look at more expanded options when the hospital opens, possibly involving arrangements with local taxi cab companies.
“In Lakeland, they have a deal whereby people who work in the (Lakeland Regional Medical Center) hospital and get off second or third shirt can actually call a cab and pay a transit fee, and he gets compensated for the pickup from the transit system,” Laytham said, adding that this system would also work well when the Poinciana Medical Center opens its doors next summer.
“I would expect, with Poinciana hospital coming online, that could happen here as well,” Laytham said.
That’s why both PEDA and PRSC are working now with agencies like Lynx and Polk Transit to plan for the growth they expect to occur when the hospital opens.
“It never hurts to plan ahead,” Laytham said.
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