Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Hooray for SunRail Ambassadors, they're coming back!

We’re so excited! The SunRail Station Ambassadors are coming back.

When SunRail launched in May Ambassadors were assigned to each of the 12 commuter-train stations to help riders understand the schedule, wrestle with the ticket vending machines and address other issues.

The Ambassadors were hired as temps, and in August – much to the dismay of many riders – they were let go. Their departure has been the source of complaints by many riders, especially new riders who arrived at stations and didn’t have a clue on how to use the ticket-vending machines or even which platform they should wait on. New riders tried to help the newbies, but that’s a heck of a way to run a railroad.

Wednesday afternoon during the Technical Advisory Committee of the Central Florida Rail Commission, a SunRail official announced that the Ambassadors would be brought back.

Officials acknowledged that their decision was driven partly because of continuing problems with the ticket-vending machines. In addition, the officials noted that new people are trying SunRail every day and they many have questions about the train, schedule and other details. The Ambassadors also played a very important safety role in making sure riders waited behind the warning line on platforms and stayed off the tracks. (Without Ambassadors present we’ve actually seen riders jump down on tracks to pose for pictures – what are they thinking?)

Bringing back the Ambassadors was very good public relations decision by SunRail because many regular riders really bonded with the Ambassadors. The SunRail commuter train system needs a friendly face at every station – especially when the unavoidable happens and things go wrong. With the massive construction project starting on Interstate 4 early next year there are bound to be hundreds -- probably thousands -- of new riders between now and next spring. The Ambassadors will have their work cut out.

We probably won’t see the Ambassadors in their familiar black golf shirts back for another four to six weeks. There’s paperwork and training that needs to be completed before they on-duty again. It will be good to have them back.

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