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SunRail #NightTrain is in trouble

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The SunRail #NightTrain is nearing the end of the line.

It pains us to write that, but it’s true. Last December, in response to requests from riders the SunRail bosses introduced the late night service that begins its last southbound run at 9:05 p.m. in DeBary and its last northbound run at 10:20 p.m. at Sand Lake Road.

With the exception of a few nights when there are major events in downtown Orlando — concerts or sporting events — the ridership has been disappointingly weak. Some nights the southbound #NightTrain only carries about 2 dozen riders, and the northbound #NightTrain is only slightly better with 3 dozen riders.

Last week during the SunRail Citizen Advisory meeting Tawny Olore, the SunRail project manager, said she and her staff were carefully monitoring ridership on NightTrain. When the #NightTrain was introduced she said SunRail would offer late-night service as a test for a year.

Many riders have complained that the existing late-night service isn’t late enough. They want a train they could use after the bars close at 2 a.m. in downtown Orlando. Under the existing arrangements a 2 a.m. train isn’t possible because SunRail needs to leave the tracks by midnight to make way for the freight trains that service businesses along the railroad corridor. Providing a window for freight-train service was critical to make SunRail possible.

The existing #NightTrain service isn’t perfect, but it’s a pretty good deal and it opens the door the use Sunrail for a wide range of after-work recreation from dining throughout Central Florida, to the theater at Loch Haven Park, sports and movies in downtown Orlando. Making the #NightTrain work makes it much easier to argue for weekend service.

The #NightTrain isn’t dead yet, but we better start riding if we want to keep it running.

See you on The #NightTrain.