Growth & Congestion Issues
Extraordinary population growth. Central Florida has been growing by a net of nearly 1,000 new residents every week. However, looking into the future, the Central Florida region is projected to add more than 1,500 residents every week. By the year 2030, projections have the regional population at 5.2 million.1 In addition, as one of the world’s leading tourism destinations, Orange County had a record-breaking 75 million visitors in 2018.
Congestion continues to increase. Central Florida commuters spent an average of 46 hours per year in traffic congestion. Traffic delays cost the typical American commuter $960 per year.2
Commuting times are escalating. Parts of Orange County rank among the highest average commute times in Florida – and commute times are steadily increasing each year. 3
High influx of workers coming into Orange County. The most recent data from the Orlando Economic Partnership shows that about half of all workers in Orange County come in from the surrounding seven counties for work – that’s approximately 457,000 individuals coming into Orange County on a daily basis.
Pedestrian safety needs to be improved. According to the 2019 Dangerous by Design report from Smart Growth America, the Orlando-Kissimmee-Sanford area is ranked at the top of the list of the most dangerous urban areas for pedestrians.
Current public transit is inadequate. LYNX bus routes do not meet the current demand, and SunRail does not run enough.
- LYNX has approximately 300 buses and services 2,500 square miles. Compare this to Allegheny County in Pittsburgh where the county services only 745 square miles with 700 buses.
- Increased funding for LYNX could increase the number of routes and frequency and reduce most wait times by 50%, ultimately helping improve reliability and dependability for riders.
Orange County ranks among the lowest in transportation funding in Florida. Orange County ranks among the bottom third in the state – 43rd out of 67 counties – for transportation spending per capita.4
Gas tax is stagnant. Federal fuel tax, which funds about half of all state highway and bridge projects, is flat because of better technology and fuel efficiency. Over the years, the gas tax has lost 39 percent of its spending power, even as infrastructure needs continue to grow.5
Cost of transportation on Orange County households. The average monthly household cost of driving is $1,079. However, a monthly bus service pass is only $50.
A Path Forward
What can the transportation penny sales tax be used for?
Various roadway improvements and transportation infrastructure, including:
- Technology, traffic signals and street lights (timing of traffic signals and major roadway lighting)
- Roads (adding lanes and resurfacing roadways)
- Public transportation (LYNX and SunRail)
- Intersections (adding turn lanes)
- Pedestrian safety
Who would pay for the transportation sales tax?
The sales tax would generate $635 million per year. According to a consultant study by PFM that was commissioned by Visit Orlando, at least 51% of the funds generated would be paid for by tourists and visitors outside of Orange County. The tax would be on purchases of retail goods and services. The tax would not include the following:
- Essential food items (e.g., milk, bread)
- Prescription drugs