Saturday, June 2, 2018

We're getting Osceola SunRail, but still no weekend trains

Wow, earlier this week we heard from some pissed-off would-be SunRail riders.

They were disappointed to learn that even after SunRail begins serving the southern extension into Osceola County, it still won’t be running trains on weekends.

Don’t just complain. Do something about it.

The first thing you can do is click here to add your name to the petition to extend SunRail to Orlando International Airport. Once SunRail connects with the airport it will have to go full-service – weekends and late-night.

The second and most important thing you can do is demand our elected officials provide SunRail, Lynx, and Votran the money those transit systems need to offer the service our communities deserve and need.

The reason SunRail doesn’t run on weekends is politics. It’s just that simple.

Politicians decided not to provide the money to provide the weekend train service that all of us want. Politicians didn’t provide SunRail with an adequate budget to operate the train on the weekends.

The fare box only provides about 30 percent of the money required to run public transit. Almost every public transit system in the world depends on government subsidies.

Though many politicians act as though they’re big bosses; they work for us. Right now, they want something from you.

They want your vote. Make them earn it.

People running for County Commission, State House, the State Senate, the U.S. Senate, and governor are holding candidate nights, calling you on the phone and kissing babies to get your vote.

Ask them what’s their plan to address the region’s awful traffic congestion. Force them to discuss their transportation plans. Don’t vote for them if their plans don’t make sense and if they don’t promise to include more money to support public transit.

Then tell them you want them to increase the funding so SunRail will be able to run weekends, and Lynx and Votran will have the money they need to improve the bus system.

Don’t just complain on Facebook. Let’s do something about it.

Thursday, May 31, 2018

Osceola residents may get to ride SunRail for free

New SunRail riders in Osceola and some from Orange County may get to ride for free when the train service is expanded southbound in late July.

Osceola Commission Viviana Janer, who also serves as chair of the SunRail Commission, raised that topic Thursday (May 31) during the train commission meeting.

The idea had been discussed briefly in other SunRail meetings. Ms. Janer pressed SunRail CEO Nicola Liquori for a decision on whether residents who live near the new SunRail stations will get an opportunity to ride the train for free. Back in 2014, when SunRail launched the train system, people rode for free for several days.

1st-day riders in 2014
Ms. Liquori responded that by the second week of June she will decide whether to allow free rides for passengers boarding at the new stations.

There’s a lot to weigh in making that decision. People who live on SunRail’s new southern leg understandably want to get the same treatment extended to those who live on SunRail’s first leg. The tricky part is how to do that without giving all SunRail customers a free ride.

Back in 2014 when the train launched so many people decided to check out SunRail that the system was overwhelmed with up to 10,000 people daily joyriding as though they were checking out a new attraction at Universal or Disney. Trains were so packed the schedule went out the window.

As a reminder, the SunRail service is being extended to stations in Meadow Woods in south Orange County, and Tupperware/Osceola Parkway, downtown Kissimmee, and Poinciana in Osceola County.

See you on The Rail!

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Check out SunRail's new schedule

SunRail announced its new train schedule.

The schedule will go into effect this summer when SunRail begins service to its southern extension.

At the end of July SunRail will start serving four new stations – Meadow Woods in south Orange County and Tupperware, Kissimmee and Poinciana in Osceola County.

The schedule change was made to integrate the four new stations into the system and to make the train more convenient for the caregivers at Florida Hospital and Orlando Health – two of the region’s largest employers. Officials have been disappointed with the ridership at those two stations. The caregivers said the existing schedule doesn’t coincide with their real-world shift changes.

While it’s possible there could be a last-minute adjustment or two, here’s os the schedule that was presented on Thursday (May 31st) to the elected who sit on the SunRail Commission:  (Click schedule to enlarge)

Saturday, May 19, 2018

SunRail is a hit in Poinciana

The Poinciana community loves SunRail.

On Saturday (May 19), hundreds of people turned out at the Poinciana train station to check out a SunRail train during an open house event organized by the commuter train service that will begin Osceola County service at the end of July.

Until now many Osceola County residents never had an opportunity to board a SunRail train. Many people tried out the comfortable seating and took selfies with friends.

In addition to the train, the event offered gifts and information to help residents understand how to connect with the train through the Lynx bus system. Other vendors were on hand to celebrate the occasion.

Going forward SunRail plans to have events at the other new train stations in downtown Kissimmee; Tupperware/Osceola Parkway and Meadow Woods in Orange County. (We’ll post those dates as soon as the information is available.)

Even though this event was held on a Saturday, SunRail only operates Monday through Friday. SunRail doesn’t have money in its budget to run on weekends. Like public transit throughout the world, the fare paid by riders only covers a fraction of the operating costs.

For the latest SunRail news, please click here.

Saturday, May 12, 2018

How to take SunRail to Disney

At least 3 or 4 times every month someone asks us if it’s possible to take SunRail to Disney.

Until now the answer has been NO.

However, at the end of July when SunRail starts serving Osceola County, the answer will become – sort of.

Then riders will be able to take SunRail to the Kissimmee Intermodal Station where they can transfer to the Lynx bus to ride Link 56 to the transportation and ticket center at the Magic Kingdom. Don’t forget you get a free transfer from the SunRail train to the Lynx bus.

Granted this trip isn’t as seamless as getting off the Monorail at the Magic Kingdom but it is a noteworthy improvement.

A Lynx manager told us it’s not out of the question that one day Lynx might consider a bus that would run from the Tupperware SunRail station down Osceola Parkway – a straight shot into Mouse World.
Link 56 to the Magic Kingdom

The Kissimmee station connection news is good for Mickey Mouse fans, and for thousands of Disney employees who fight traffic every day on I-4 and other thoroughfares on their way to work. (No, the employees don’t live under Cinderella’s Castle!)

The downside for Disney fans and workers is that SunRail does not run on weekends, bank holidays and late at night. You can help change that by clicking here to sign a petition to extend SunRail service to Orlando International Airport. Once SunRail connects to the airport, the train will have to offer weekend service and trains later into the night.

See you on The Rail!

Thursday, May 10, 2018

Sign your name to connect SunRail to the airport

Have you signed the petition supporting the proposal to SunRail to Orlando International Airport?

What are you waiting for?

Local officials have explained that the airport connection is critical to make SunRail a full-service train system.

Once SunRail is connected to the airport they will have to run the trains on weekends, more frequently and later at night.

By signing this petition, you are achieving two important goals:
·        You will make trips to the airport much more convenient and hassle-free. Imagine how many cars this could take off the roads.
·        You will make SunRail much more useful to everyone from those going to work, as well as folks going out to play at night.

Full-service SunRail creates a universe of new opportunities for employment, education, and businesses large and small.

A few weeks back we told you that we need to make our voices heard to make SunRail more useful and convenient.

Right now, you have an opportunity speak up.

All you need to do is click here and add your name to the petition.

Friday, May 4, 2018

New SunRail schedule includes good news for Magic fans

Good news Orlando Magic fans!

It looks like during the next season many of you will be able to take SunRail to weeknight games in downtown Orlando and back home after the games. Fans can thank SunRail’s southern expansion to Poinciana.

As Magic fans know, the present SunRail schedule only works one way – to the game -- because the last northbound train leaves downtown’s Church Street station at 9:25 p.m. (The way the Magic plays, leaving the game early may not be a bad thing.)

SunRail’s tentative new schedule proposes that the last northbound train will leave Church Street after 10 p.m.

SunRail managers have been reworking the schedule to include service to the new Meadow Woods, Osceola Parkway/Tupperware, Kissimmee and Poinciana stations. Two more train roundtrips are being added to serve the longer train route.

One of SunRail’s major priorities has been to better accommodate the real-world schedules of the staff and caregivers at Florida Hospital and Orlando Health hospitals. Even though those hospitals are two of the region’s largest employers – ridership at those stations has been disappointingly low because of shortcomings in the current schedule. Last year SunRail CEO Nicola Liquori pledged to use the opportunity of service expansion to improve the schedule and ridership.

The tentative schedule was discussed briefly at this week’s SunRail Customer Advisory Committee meeting. While Ms. Liquori and her team won’t be able to change water to wine, one of the positive developments appears to be a later departure time for the last northbound SunRail train. They plan to present the new schedule very soon.

This later service will not only benefit Magic fans but also date night for some couples. Magic fans headed southbound after the game still will be out of luck, though.

And no, there is no new weekend service. Remember, Ms. Liquori is limited by the budget she has been provided for Monday to Friday service. Any weekend service needs to be sponsored – either businesses or local government.

During a recent interview, Osceola Commissioner Viviana Janer, who also chairs the SunRail Commission, explained what it will take to get weekend service. Click here for that explanation.

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