Transportation leaders crowned Central Florida on Wednesday as the state’s lead pioneer for transportation diversification and expansion.
At a panel hosted by The Southern Group called Connecting Florida Cities, public and private sector transportation leaders praised Orlando’s push to diversify transit with the future in mind.
Christine Kefauver of Brightline, a company pushing a high-speed passenger rail system in Florida, said alternative travel options are critical to Florida’s growth for both residents and tourists.
Caryn Lund of Lilium echoed the remarks, adding that forward-thinking leaders are a major factor in transportation diversification. She credited Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer and Orange County Mayor Jerry Demings for helping attract the Germany-based vertiport company to Florida.
“For us, it’s about the three fundamental D’s around Orlando,” Lund said. “Data, Demings and Dyer.”
In all, Lilium officials plan to build a network of vertiports across Central and South Florida to include Orlando and Tampa.
The decision, Lund explained, was justified in part by Central Florida’s growth, economic resiliency and plentiful workforce.
Beyond attracting and supporting diversification and expansion efforts, Orlando Transportation Director Tanya Wilder said the city is setting more goals to ensure they’re a “future-ready” city.
Among them, the city aims to eliminate traffic fatalities and serious injuries within Orlando by 2040 under the Vision Zero mission.
They also plan to expand bus transit routes, incorporate autonomous vehicles such as Beep and vertical take-off and landing options.
Featured in multiple cities, including Lake Nona in Orlando, Beep provides the nation’s largest autonomous vehicle network.
Wilder said the City of Orlando is also looking to capitalize on Central Florida’s rail system in the near future.
“I think that the City of Orlando has always sought to rethink and invest in transportation options. SunRail is a perfect example of that,” Wilder said. “We’re dedicated to bringing SunRail to the airport and also expanding farther.”