We were wrong.
We blindly parroted the SunRail bosses who said that a #LastCallTrain wasn’t feasible. We noted that SunRail signed a formal agreement giving freight trains exclusive use of the tracks between midnight and 5 a.m.
We thought the #NightTrain, which wrapped up service at 11:30 p.m. in DeBary, would be enough to satisfy people who wanted to prowl downtown nightspots. The #NightTrain failed because it never got enough riders. It never got enough riders because it didn’t run late enough.
However, a #LastCallTrain at 3 a.m. Saturday would be a huge success.
That’s what we thought. But check out the accompanying photo. It was shot in downtown Orlando 1 o’clock on a Saturday morning in December. Bet there are at least 10,000 people in downtown on Friday and Saturday nights. What percentage of them do you think get in their cars and drive home drunk?
How many of them didn’t make it, ending up instead in jail or a hospital?
SunRail has the potential to be a real lifesaver by providing an alternative to driving drunk. The second most important reason for providing a #LastCallTrain is because people say they want, and will use, the service. The need for this train has been mentioned hundreds of times on our Facebook page.
It’s time for SunRail bosses to provide the service that people want.
Maybe the SunRail bosses forgot that SunRail was created to serve people, real people. The #LastCallTrain is especially important to millennials. They are the future leaders of Central Florida. Without the enthusiastic support of millennials SunRail will wither and die.
Of course the idea of a #LastCallTrain won’t be favorably received by some graybeards like us who stopped hanging out decades ago. We expect some critics to say that a #LastCallTrain will be too noisy early in the morning. Maybe those critics never heard a freight train. SunRail trains are much quieter and pass faster than most freight trains that use the track corridor during the wee hours.
As for the agreement that reserves the SunRail tracks for freight trains after midnight; Orlando is full of good lawyers who can find ways to modify the agreement to meet everyone’s needs.
It’s time to start thinking creatively to boost SunRail ridership and provide the service the public expects and deserves.