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Part of the SunRail #NightTrain deserves saving

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We hope the SunRail bosses won’t throw out the baby with the bath water when they address the fate of the #NightTrain.

We applauded SunRail late last year when the train bosses introduced the #NightTtarin as an experiment, with a last southbound run departing DeBary at 9:05 p.m. and the last northbound run departing Sand Lake Road at 10:20 p.m.

Unfortunately the overall #NightTrain ridership has been mostly disappointing – only a couple of dozen riders. We need to note, however, we have heard from riders – mostly those working for modest wages in the service sector – who really appreciate the #NightTrain service because they need it to get home from their jobs.

Notice we wrote ridership has been “mostly disappointing”. On a Monday night when there no special events along the SunRail corridor there were barely a couple of dozen riders on the #NightTrain run.

However on nights when there were major events, such as a big concert, or athletic events being held in downtown Orlando, the ridership was very healthy. It would be a shame if the Sunrail bosses simply cut off all #NightTrain service without regard for the folks who HAVE been riding SunRail on the busy nights. That’s why we hope they don’t throw out the baby with the bath water.

SunRail needs to hold on to all the ridership it can.

For many people, those special events may be the only time it’s convenient for them to ride SunRail. Granted SunRail is not a theme park attraction ride, it’s a public resource and it needs all the supporters it can get because one day within the next 5 or 6 years Central Florida residents will be asked to pony up the money to keep SunRail running. We’ve yet to meet someone who has actually ridden SunRail who doesn’t think it’s a valuable investment in Central Florida’s future – unless they own a downtown parking lot, or they enjoy traffic jams.

During the past few public meetings, SunRail bosses have telegraphed their intention to re-direct the resources from the #NightTrain to provide more service during the middle of the day where there are some schedule gaps as long as 2 ½ hours.

We understand that decision, but we also urge SunRail to find a way to keep running a later train on certain evenings when there are major events on the SunRail corridor.

Many other commuter lines, such as Tri-Rail in South Florida run trains to support major events.

In addition, we think it makes good sense to run a late train every Friday evening because the existing #NightTrain does get pretty good use on Friday nights. We met many people who ride on Friday nights when they stop off after work for drinks with colleagues, or date night with spouses and significant others.

Central Florida aspires to be a world-class community. We need to start providing world-class transportation options.

See you on The Rail.