Remember the first time we rode SunRail?
Everybody said: “Wow, it will be great to take this train to go to the Winter Park Art Festival!”
That’s when we got the bad news that SunRail doesn’t run on weekends. (We still need to get that fixed.)
Thankfully we can rejoice that this year SunRail will run this coming weekend on Saturday (March 21) and Sunday (March 22) during the popular Winter Park Sidewalk Art Festival, thanks to the sponsorship of the Winter Park Chamber of Commerce, the Winter Park Sidewalk Art Festival and Florida Hospital.
What makes it even better – we can ride for free!
This will be the first time SunRail will run for an entire weekend. Earlier this month SunRail ran on Sunday, March 8, to support games played by the Orlando City Soccer Club and the Orlando Magic in downtown Orlando. Much has been said and written about that historic special operation – which we declared a complete success.
Yet some riders and would-be riders complained. They said they had to wait too long and that the trains were too crowded.
We don’t work for SunRail, and sometimes we don’t see eye to eye with the train system’s managers, but folks, get a grip. On March 8 SunRail transported nearly 10,000 people in less than a 12-hour period. And it was done safely.
During normal weekday operations – which span almost 18 hours – SunRail transports about 3,600 people. Let’s not forget, SunRail doesn’t have unlimited resources – personnel and equipment. Federal safety rules limit the number of hours train crews can work. SunRail also shares the tracks and two stations during the day with long-distance Amtrak trains.
In our opinion, SunRail did a fantastic job on March 8 and we’re looking forward to more on the same during the Winter Park Sidewalk Art Festival. Though you’ll likely experience some crowding when you ride SunRail to the art festival you won’t have to worry about fighting traffic on I-4, US 17-92 and Fairbanks, or paying $10 or $15 to park
This year you can park your car for free at outlying SunRail stations at Sand Lake Road, Maitland, Altamonte Springs, Longwood, Lake Mary, Sanford and DeBary and get off SunRail in the heart of Winter Park – steps from the art festival.
But remember, you’re not going to be alone. In addition to folks heading to the art festival we expect riders headed to other destinations will be riding this coming Saturday and Sunday.
No doubt trains will be so crowded they may be unable to pick up additional riders at some stations. That happened on March 8 and it infuriated many people, but the SunRail bosses added relief trains to pick up the overflow. SunRail operations also did a great job of reassuring everyone that relief trains were on the way.
Just as we did before the March 8 special operation, we urge riders to be patient. It will be crowded and you may have to wait a little bit, but SunRail will get you to and from Winter Park.
For this upcoming weekend we encourage riders to exercise personal responsibility because the trains will not run all day and until late at night – as they do during normal weekday operations.
Pay close attention to the accompanying schedule because on both Saturday and Sunday the last northbound SunRail train is scheduled to leave Winter Park at 4:41 p.m.; the last southbound train departs Winter Park at 3:36 p.m.
Miss those trains, and you’re on your own. (And take the time to figure out if you need a northbound or southbound train to return to the station where you parked your car.)
See you on The Rail.