Sunday, October 19, 2014

Going to the performing arts center? Don't count on SunRail

Have you checked out the new Dr. Phillips Center for Performing Arts in downtown Orlando?

You can get a sneak peek at the performing art center’s spectacular design in the accompanying photo that was shot during the early-morning hours from the northbound platform of the SunRail station at Church Street.

We regret that you can only see a small corner of the performing arts center in this photograph, but our point is to show you how close the SunRail station is to the performing arts center. An out-of-shape 5-7 guy can walk from the train station to the performing arts center in about 5 minutes.

But walking from the train station to the performing arts center is futile because SunRail doesn’t run during late-night hours or on the weekends. Under the existing SunRail schedule, on weekdays the last northbound train leaves the Church Street SunRail station at 9:25 p.m., and the last southbound train leaves Church Street at 8:51 p.m.

Now think about this. On Saturday, Nov. 8 Grammy Award winner Sheryl Crow will perform during a free concert to celebrate the grand opening of our new performing arts center. The street in front of the performing arts center is congested during the best of times. Imagine what it’s going to be like for a free performance in Central Florida’s newest public venue.

The traffic congestion could be greatly alleviated if there was a transportation alternative, such as SunRail, available to bring Central Florida residents to downtown Orlando. But, oops, SunRail doesn’t run on weekends. That reality isn’t just sad, it’s stupid.

Central Florida is a world-class community, and it needs to start acting like one. We deserve much better than a part-time train system. Our new performing arts center deserves more than a part-time train system.

Failure to provide 7-day-a-week and expanded evening service plays right into the hands of the SunRail haters who are overjoyed to cluck about recent declines in train ridership. The naysayers get great pleasure by calling SunRail a white elephant. We know that’s not true. Full-time rail service will make mass transportation a part of this community’s DNA and add tremendous value to the new performing arts center and many other cultural, recreation and entertainment venues in this region.

SunRail officials say they’re studying the idea of expanding hours and they’ll make a report at the end of this year. We’re not optimistic.

Don’t just read this post, help make Central Florida a world-class community by clicking this link and signing the petition to get SunRail service hours expanded.

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