Orange Co. leaders push for rental car tax to fund transportation



ORANGE COUNTY, Fla. - The Greater Orlando Aviation Authority agreed to a move Wednesday that could create a regional rental car surtax and bring in millions of dollars for transportation.

Tourists flying into Orlando could be the key to improving bus service for folks who live and work in the area and depend on Lynx to get to work.

The bus line is seeing record ridership but also reeling from service cuts, delays and constant overcrowding, according to drivers.

"I see out there routes that are packed, and sometimes we actually have to leave people behind," said Lynx bus driver Christine St. Louis.

Orange County Mayor Teresa Jacobs said a regional rental car surtax of $2 or $3 would bring in up to $60 million a year to fund transportation.

The Aviation Authority lent the mayor its support Wednesday by agreeing to possibly give up its own fee for travelers and take a share of the regional rental car tax. The move is designed to make a united show of force against an anticipated uphill fight in Tallahassee.

"I think the likelihood of passing it this year are so remote, and even in the next two years that I'm supportive, but I think there's zero chance that we're actually going to pass it in Tallahassee," said Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer.

Jacobs added, "Big mountain to climb, but we can do it this year with enough support. It really, I think, is going to come down to a message from the governor, whether he will support funding that we need, give us the authority to levy an additional $2, $3 a day on rental cars."

Jacobs said she believes the key to moving forward with the regional rental car surtax is getting the support of the governor. She said she's ready to take the fight for transportation funds to Tallahassee.