Close but no cigar.
That’s the best description we’ve heard for SunRail’s new schedule that is set to begin in late December.
As you’ve probably know, SunRail will introduce a new train in its schedule departing southbound from DeBary at 1 p.m. (Remember, SunRail only runs weekdays) SunRail is doing away with our beloved #NightTrain and moving those resources – staffing, etc. to the 1 p.m. run.
This change is SunRail’s attempt to address the lengthy gaps in service riders and would-be riders have complained about. Right now you can waste 2 ½ hours in the afternoon waiting for a train. This situation was the subject of a wonderfully thoughtful article written recently by Jeffery Morris, chairman of the SunRail Customer Advisory Committee (CAC).
Problem is the loyal riders we know, and the SunRail-appointed CAC, say the new schedule is a loser. We agree. Riders want a train that will depart DeBary at 2 p.m. Remember the southbound train becomes a northbound train once it reaches Sand Lake Road.
If there was a 2 p.m. train out of DeBary, it would likely begin its northbound trip about 3:15 p.m. and reach the downtown Orlando stations around 3:30 p.m., which would be perfect for early-morning workers who get off the job at 3 p.m.
The 1 p.m. train out of DeBary is no help for those early-morning workers. The current late-afternoon schedule, which isn’t changing, puts the first northbound train in downtown at 4:25 p.m. This means early-morning workers are cooling or roasting (depending on the weather) on the train platform for at least an hour. Worse yet, this means riders won’t be arriving at stations, such as Altamonte Springs until it’s almost 5 p.m. – after 5 p.m. in Sanford and DeBary.
Anyone with a child in day-care, or after-school sessions, face steep financial penalties for late pickups. The CAC believes the less-than-user friendly SunRail schedule is a barrier to increased ridership.
SunRail has stops at both of the region’s major hospitals (Florida Hospital and Orlando Regional Medical Center) where thousands work, yet the ridership at those stations has been disappointing. A more reasonable schedule could work wonders, but the SunRail managers say they don’t have the money to hire additional crew (engineers and conductors) needed to staff a 2 p.m. train. Federal rules limit how many hours crew members can work.
Now it’s time to get political. So we say: Better call Buddy. Newly re-elected Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer, that is.
Buddy is chairman of the Central Florida Commuter Rail Commission (SunRail’s official name) that oversees SunRail.
During his tenure at Orlando City Hall Buddy has proven himself to be a creative and persuasive leader who is focused on getting things done.
So if you want a better afternoon schedule for SunRail, call Buddy at 407-246-2221, or email him at firstname.lastname@example.org . Don’t be afraid, he won’t bite. Tell Buddy what changes you want made to the SunRail schedule.
See you on The Rail!