Back when SunRail was being planned most people expected that the train stations at Orlando’s biggest hospitals would be among the busiest stops. That’s a reasonable assumption considering that Florida Hospital and Orlando Health are two of the region’s largest employers.
Reality proved to be vastly different from the assumptions. The stations at Florida Hospital and Orlando Health rank among the bottom three for ridership. It’s not that caregivers and other workers at the hospitals don’t like SunRail. The problem is that the train schedule doesn’t work for many of them.
|SunRail at Florida Hospital|
Hospital caregivers tell us that the biggest problem is in the evening for the northbound SunRail train. The shift ends for many of the caregivers at 7 p.m., but the northbound SunRail train arrives and departs too early from the train stations at both hospitals.
It’s not as though the minute the shift ends the nurses and other caregivers instantly drop everything and walk out the door. They have to finish what they’re doing; update patients’ charts and brief the next shift.
The handover process is time consuming but necessary to ensure safe medical care for patients. In addition, caregivers at Orlando Health have to walk at least two blocks to the train station.
To be fair, back in August SunRail tried to address this situation by adjusting the schedule so the 7:22 p.m. train at Orlando Health now arrives at 7:37 p.m. Instead of 7:34 p.m. that train now arrives at the Florida Hospital station at 7:49 p.m.
Good try, but this situation demands more attention. If caregivers coming off shift at 7 miss the northbound train they have to wait at least 2 hours for the next train. Would you do that? Most people wouldn’t, so caregivers drive to work because they can’t count on SunRail to get home.
|SunRail at Orlando Health|
Caregivers say it would be better if SunRail changed the schedule so the northbound train arrived at Orlando Health at 8 p.m. That train would also serve caregivers at Florida Hospital.
No doubt changing the SunRail train schedule is more complicated than just writing numbers on paper. Changing the northbound train schedule affects the southbound train schedule. In addition, every time the schedule is changed, it can affect the hours that train crews are on duty. Federal rules limit how long crew members can work. Despite those concerns, the ultimate goal is to increase ridership by making SunRail a convenient alternative to driving.
We love hospital caregivers – nurses, orderlies and techs. We love doctors, too. But anybody who has ever been in the hospital knows that the caregivers are the ones who get the job done. Let’s make it easier for them to get home.