October 20, 2017
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LYNX Providing Support for Puerto Rico

With Puerto Rico still suffering from the aftermath of Hurricane Maria, LYNX in Orlando, FL, is helping staff a disaster relief center set up at Orlando International Airport to assist residents who had to flee their homes.

Vice President Mike Pence and Sens. Bill Nelson (D-FL) and Marco Rubio (R-FL) visited the center in early October to show encouragement and thanks for the effort. The “one-stop shop” at the airport provides basic resources for displaced persons, including education, housing, transportation, and representatives of human service and health agencies. LYNX staff are available to answer questions, assist with travel arrangements and provide free 30-day bus passes with schedule books.

The goodwill gesture comes as Florida is still coping with damage from Hurri­cane Irma.

LYNX Chief Executive Officer Edward L. Johnson said, “In times of emergency we must come together to help whomever, from wherever … Visiting and traveling around a new area can be scary regardless of the circumstances. In this case, relocating them, even temporarily, under these conditions with the unknown, we are proudly supporting and trying to make traveling around Central Florida as easy for our guests as possible.”

LYNX also has been helping to provide employment opportunities. Added Johnson, “As the regional transportation authority, our available positions are not just technical. Professional positions are always needed in accounting and planning,” as well as deputy director of facilities, manager of maintenance, safety officer, technicians and bus operators.

More Agencies Offer Outreach To Hurricane Zones

Palm Tran in West Palm Beach, FL, worked with animal rescue groups following Hurricane Irma to free up space in area shelters, using four buses over two days to transport about 200 dogs and cats from shelters to Palm Beach International Airport. Many of the animals had been in the shelters prior to the hurricane, while others were stranded when area residents vacated the area ahead of Irma.

The animals were flown north to shelters in New York and New Hampshire, creating the space desperately needed for the influx of animals to Florida shelters.

“Community service is at the heart of everything we do at Palm Tran—and that includes serving the four-legged members of our community in a time of need,” said Executive Director Clinton B. Forbes.

Diane Sauve of Palm Beach County Animal Care and Control, one of the organizations involved in the evacuation effort, said, “Our experience with Palm Tran was fantastic! The drivers were great, and everyone involved was thrilled to be part of this endeavor to move our adoptable dogs and cats to our northern state partners. On behalf of the staff, volunteers and animals, we thank you!”

Vice President Mike Pence visits the disaster relief center at Orlando International Airport staffed by LYNX employees, among others.

In Allentown, PA, the Lehigh and Northampton Transportation Authority (LANTA) and the Amalgamated Transit Union (ATU) announced an Oct. 21 effort to collect household goods, toys and non-perishable food items for relief in Puerto Rico. Members of the union are volunteering their time in bringing buses to local shopping centers, staffing them and unloading them for shipment.

ATU President Ricky Vega said, “Our union membership is fully engaged in this effort, which will benefit the people of Puerto Rico. Many of our members have family on the island, as do many LANTA riders.”

LANTA Executive Director Owen O’Neil said, “The ATU asked us about a LANTA-sponsored drive to help the people of Puerto Rico, and we were happy to offer the resources of the authority.”

APTA is continuing to accept member donations here to help public transit professionals in Puerto Rico. The Business Member Board of Governors has given $10,000 toward Puerto Rico relief efforts.
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