Friday, August 8, 2014

SunRailRiders - Transportation boss tells riders to take a chill pill

Noranne Downs is a name you should know if you ride SunRail.
Downs is the Florida Department of Transportation district secretary for Central Florida. In that capacity, SunRail is one of many major projects Downs oversees.
Last week our friends at the Orlando Business Journal interviewed Downs. Some of her comments regarding calls to expand SunRail service to the weekends and late-night hours were very disappointing.
During the interview, Downs called weekend and late-night SunRail service “extras.”
SunRail, Downs explained, “was never set for weekends because it was primarily for the majority, which would be Monday through Friday, and we have tried to have our schedules – 3 hours in the morning and 3 hours in the afternoons – work around hospitals… we’re (SunRail) going through 2 hospital areas … so we need to kind of work around that schedule.”
Thanks Ms. Downs, you made a compelling case for running SunRail 7 days a week.
Those mega-hospitals operate 7 days a week, 24 hours a day, 365 days of the year. In addition to hospital staff, hundreds of other SunRail riders don’t work traditional Monday through Friday, 9 to 5 schedules. They depend on mass transit – buses and rail -- to get them to work. For them, night and weekend SunRail service is not an “extra”. It’s essential!
We’ve met Downs. Professionally she is very accomplished and deserves a standing ovation for launching SunRail. Yet we’re disappointed because the attitude Downs projected in the interview (click here to see for yourself) seemed almost condescending to the thousands of people who signed the petition calling for service to be expanded.
Maybe the problem is that Downs works for a road-building agency and doesn’t care about mass transportation. Regardless, Downs is a state employee. She works for us -- the taxpayers and voters. Loudly and clearly we have said SunRail service needs to be expanded – sooner rather than later.

Consider dropping Downs a line to let her know how you feel about expanding SunRail service. Write to her at Please be concise and respectful.

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