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Don’t fall for SunRail double talk

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So there’s this dude Randy Ross running for a seat on the Orlando City Council.  In his position paper he writes “I support SunRail as a commuter transportation link, but it truly needs to be self- sufficient financially…”

Beware of this double talk from politicians or anyone else. You can’t support SunRail and in the next breath insist that it be self-sufficient. That’s the equivalent of saying “I want to be an airline pilot, but I’m afraid of heights.”

There’s almost no public transit system anywhere in the world that doesn’t receive a government subsidy to make it affordable to the public. Public transit, like police and fire, is a public service. Unlike police and fire, the streets and Interstate 4, public transit does produce revenue from the fare box. The fare paid by SunRail riders currently covers 20 percent of the cost of operating the trains. But that percentage will increase to 30 percent – the industry average – once the service is expanded to Osceola County – adding 4 more train stations.

Right now round-trip between Sand Lake Road and Lake Mary costs $5.50. If you buy into Mr. Ross’s call for a self-sufficient SunRail that roundtrip ride would cost more than $25. How do you think that fare would affect ridership and affordability of SunRail?

Every public transit system in the world serves a public good. Without those buses and trains many people would have no way of getting to work. The more workers you have, the more taxpayers you have and that holds down everyone’s taxes. In addition, public transit helps reduce the number of private vehicles on the road. The more private vehicles that are on the road, the worst the traffic congestion gets. Cars stuck in traffic burn fuel, contribute to air pollution and waste the time of the people stranded in those cars.

Next time you’re wondering why it’s taking so long for the cable guy to get to your house, think traffic.

See you on The Rail.