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COLUMN

Happytown

The state descends into a puddle of tears as unions are busted, the minimum wage is challenged, homeless rolls skyrocket and everybody looks for a free bus. Sad town!

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"All of this [planning] could be for naught," Theriot admitted.

Whenever a public transportation system can command all-capital-letters without actually being an acronym, you know you've got something special. So it should come as little surprise that LYMMO, the free downtown-only bus system partly managed by LYNX, is set to expand in all directions, most immediately into the Parramore area in 2013 and, later in the decade, as far north, east, south, and west, as the Florida Hospital, Summerlin Avenue, the Orlando Regional Medical Center and Westmoreland Avenue, respectively.

The city nor LYNX have kept this a secret - in fact, they've held more than 20 public hearings on the plans since this January alone, though judging by the meeting we attended on Mar. 23, they may be already scraping the bottom of the public-interest barrel. That evening at the J.B. Callahan Neighborhood Center in Parramore, we encountered only two audience members and five staffers, but the LYMMO folks continued their presentation unfazed, and we openly professed our admiration at their respect for democracy.

And desegregation! That's because LYMMO will eventually share some of the same roads as privileged cars due to space restraints, but in the process may start charging 50 cents to a dollar - a decision that's still a ways off, considering that a federally mandated impact study is still in progress. "You have to make sure you're not going to misplace bald eagles or manatees," said LYNX spokesman Matt Friedman, to which we laughed, to which Friedman was silent. "That may sound crazy to you, but that literally can blow up an entire project," he said, and continued talking, but we were by then captivated by images of bald eagles strapped with dynamite, in a kamikaze dive towards a fleet of shiny new hybrid buses.

Or, the end of the world.

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