Saturday, October 25, 2014

SunRail's ticket vending machine mess

If we were in charge of SunRail and we cared about rider convenience, one of the changes we would make is to add a second cash ticket vending machine to the SunRail station at Church Street in downtown Orlando.

Every SunRail station has four ticket-vending machines – two on the northbound platform and two on the southbound platform. Of those four vending machines, only one accepts cash. The other three vending machines (when they’re working) only accept credit or debit cards. SunRail’s rationale for only providing one cash machine per station on either the northbound or south platform is kind of wonky, and doesn’t make much sense to us.

With the exception of one station, the northbound and southbound platforms are directly across from each other. So if you show up on the wrong platform with cash you have to run to the other side to buy your ticket.

And now for the exception – the SunRail station at Church Street, which you can see in the accompanying aerial photo. The northbound and southbound platforms are more than a block away from each other and separated by busy two-way traffic on South Street. The cash machine is on the northbound platform.

On two occasions we have seen people rush up to the southbound platform and try to buy a ticket with cash. One of the people missed the train because he couldn’t buy a ticket. The other ended up boarding the train without a ticket. It wasn’t her fault. She wanted to buy a ticket, but couldn’t. (It’s stuff like this that adversely affects SunRail passenger counts.)

Common sense dictates that Church Street needs cash machines on the northbound and southbound platforms. Ideally, there should be cash machines on both platforms at all SunRail stations.

While SunRail bosses are scratching their heads about Church Street, they need to move the cash machine at the Sand Lake Road Station. At that station (SunRail’s end of the line), the cash machine is on the northbound platform. But SunRail isn’t even using the northbound platform at Sand Lake Road. All passenger loading and unloading is done on the southbound platform and that’s where the cash machine needs to be.

For heaven’s sake SunRail, get with the program.

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