Anthony Nieves, Candidate for Florida HD 47
Q1: How often do you find yourself walking, biking, or using public transit? If you mainly drive, what do you see as the barriers for yourself and our community to move towards a place that promotes sustainable transportation as viable alternatives to cars?
Walking, daily. Biking, weekly. Using public mass transit, at least once per week. My usage of Lynx and Sunrail has increased in recent years, as I am trying to extend the life of my personal vehicle, which unfortunately is practically a necessity in Central Florida. With the cost of fuel, tolls, and automobile ownership costs rising to all time heights, I am disappointed at not seeing more of our statewide elected officials doing more to promote public mass transit ridership. I have also not seen major campaigns to promote public transportation in other widely spoken languages or our region’s working class, such as Spanish and Haitian Creole.
Q2: How will you work with other state elected officials and state agencies to fund and deliver transformational transit projects?
I would first excite my constituency with the many benefits of having multiple public transit options. This community support would lead me to challenge poor management, questionable zoning laws, and overregulation in areas that have traditionally been underserved. As for funding, I would author and/or support bills that increase developer impact fees, while working to counter the efforts of groups like Americans for Prosperity, that work to further harm the progress of public transportation through misinformation. As a candidate whose campaign promotes improvements to public transportation, this is an area which I intend to always advocate for.
Q3: How important is having a world class transit system for the future of Greater Orlando?
Immensely important! If Greater Orlando wants to maintain itself as a region of world class importance, then having a world class transit system is a must. We are an ever evolving region, yet our public transportation system is a commuter disaster. Poor planning, a crumbling infrastructure, and insufficient funding, all hinder the lifeline that is public transportation. Jobs, healthcare, education, and food, are all affected by inefficient public transportation. St. Cloud, Florida, with a city population of 60,000, has only one Lynx bus route that runs through it. Additionally, Poinciana, Florida, with a population of 70,000, also has one bus route, to and from its central area. This is alarming, yet there is minimal outcry from many of our locally elected officials. When elected, I would be proud to advance bills that would promote good public transportation, especially in Osceola County. This would further compliment the Greater Orlando area, as it would address the transportation needs of more marginalized communities.
Q4: Places like LA and Kansas City are exploring free fares and many cities like Pittsburgh have introduced low-income fare discount programs. Do you think discount fares should be provided for low-income residents and should free fares for all users be considered?
Free fares for all would be ideal, with at minimum, an introduction of low-income fare discount programs. Many studies have long proven that greater accessibility to public transportation reduces poverty in underserved and marginalized communities. We should be doing all that we can to see these incentives realized.
Q5: Do you support transit-oriented development(TOD), building walkable mixed use neighborhoods around transit stops and stations to create a transit supportive environment?
Yes! This is how wholesome communities are made. Bus stops should always be considered a neighborhood microcenter. Transit-oriented development encourages ridership, while also embracing and promoting a strong sense of community spirit.
Q6: Greater Orlando is regularly ranked the most dangerous place for cyclists and pedestrians in the country, a huge problem for transit since that is how most riders arrive at their stops. What actions and policies do we need to create safer streets for walking and biking?
With greater usage of public transit, less private vehicles will be on the road. With less vehicles on the road, remaining driver rage is lessened dramatically by its positive impact against traffic congestion. Building up a successful public transportation system requires consistent passion, especially in Osceola County. We must also improve the lighting of our cycling pathways and pedestrian walkways. We should no longer tolerate the indirect forcing of pedestrians and cyclists to be thrust onto roadways. Horrific urban planning many times results in walkway and cycling lane dead ends, where abrupt u-turns have to be made by pedestrians and cyclists. Without this frustrating backtrack, the only other option left, would be to enter the open road of high speed oncoming vehicle traffic. We Central Floridians deserve better, and I intend on being another champion for public transit enhancements.