Sunday, January 11, 2015

Will you pay more to ride SunRail on the weekend?

Everybody wants SunRail trains to run on the weekends, but are you willing to pay for it?

During last week’s meeting of the Central Florida Commuter Rail Commission one of the bosses said it will cost an additional $5.5 million to run SunRail on the weekends – 18 trains daily on Saturday and Sunday.

As we previously explained, almost every mass transit system in the world has to be subsidized with public dollars, but the riders do have to pay their fair share from the fare box.

So on our SunRailRiders – Florida Facebook page we asked our followers: Would you be willing to pay a higher fare on the weekends to help pay for weekend SunRail service?

We were blown away by the response from riders who overwhelmingly support higher fares for weekend service.

For example, John wrote: “What's the point of having a system like this unless you can use it at any time -- day or night, weekend or holiday? We'll never get the ideal amount of cars off the roads unless SunRail is available at any time day or night.”

Then there’s Eric, who wrote: “Growing up in a city that had a great train system, I rode all the time as a kid. Now that I have a 3 and 6 year old - I want to take them downtown, and to the science center, etc. … and I would do it all from the Sand Lake station. Not running on weekends is a bad thing. Please SunRail - change this!”
Our good friend Dani, also made a strong business case for a higher fare for weekend SunRail service. She wrote: “I think weekend service should cost more than weekday service. Revenue Management 101 is to charge more for a timeframe that is either more desirable or costs more to offer your service.”
However there were some who don’t like the idea. Patrice wrote: “Not paying more...figure it out...The train was proposed for 7 days, my taxes are paying for it make it happen!”
We tend to go along with the majority view to charge a higher fare for the weekends, but we do have some major concerns.
Many people calling for weekend service want the train running to use during their off hours to visit farmers markets or go to an Orlando Magic game or to dinner in Lake Mary, and so forth. Many of them don’t even ride SunRail during the Monday to Friday work week because the train doesn’t stop near to their job.
However, everybody in this market doesn’t work a conventional Monday through Friday, 9 to 5 schedule. Why should they pay a higher fare just because they work on the weekend?
If SunRail can ever get its ticketing system to work properly, we think the solution is to charge weekday fares to everybody who has a SunCard for rising weekly and monthly, and charge higher fares to people who buy one-day tickets from the vending machines on Saturdays and Sundays.
Hopefully the willingness to pay more to ride on the weekends will speed up the discussions and get trains running on the weekends by this summer.
See you on The Rail.

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