Saturday, May 30, 2015

Show support for DeLand SunRail

A Federal Transit Administration report says that only about 200 people per day would use SunRail to and from DeLand. That low ridership estimate has caused some people to say it’s not worth spending millions to extend SunRail service north from DeBary to DeLand.

We think that DeLand ridership estimate is way too low. We passionately support extending SunRail service north to DeLand and south to Poinciana in Osceola County – as Central Florida’s commuter train service was originally proposed.

Fortunately federal dollars have been allocated to expand SunRail service south to Poinciana. However, federal money to bring SunRail to DeLand remain up in the air.

SunRail may come here 1 day.
The Florida Department of Transportation remains committed to bringing SunRail to DeLand, which currently is served daily by 4 Amtrak trains. FDOT is seeking a TIGER grant – discretionary federal dollars intended for transit projects that help improve an area’s economic, employment and educational opportunities. The grant application will be filed in early June.

These TIGER grants are very competitive and communities all over the nation are hoping to get a slice of the pie. That’s why we’re worried about the pessimistic projection that only 200 people would SunRail in DeLand

We think it’s critically important to show how many people would use SunRail to and from DeLand. We know there are lots of people in DeLand who already use SunRail – boarding at the DeBary station – the only SunRail station in Volusia County.

If you’ve ever ridden SunRail to DeBary you know there’s nothing at that station – just a convenience store and trees. Honestly there’s very little at the DeLand Amtrak station, which is where SunRail would stop. That said, there’s lots of things for day trippers to do in DeLand. There’s also enormous potential to develop underutilized land around the existing DeLand Amtrak station.

Meanwhile local leaders are considering several ideas – ranging from a trolley to buses -- to transport prospective SunRail riders from a future DeLand SunRail station 5 miles to downtown DeLand (Woodland Boulevard) which is very busy and filled with shops, restaurants and offices. In case you didn’t know, DeLand is the county seat for Volusia County and home of Stetson University – Florida’s oldest private university.

Establishing SunRail service in DeLand can become a launching pad to one day extend SunRail to Daytona Beach.

Clearly SunRail service would be a huge win for residents of DeLand and other communities in west Volusia County. The commuter train would make it much easier for west Volusia residents to visit, conduct business and work in other parts of Central Florida.

If you would use SunRail to and from DeLand, we’re asking you to click this link to add your name to a petition asking the federal government to grant the money needed to extend SunRail service to DeLand.

The petition is addressed to U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx and Acting Federal Transit Administrator Therese W. McMillan.

You don’t have to live in DeLand to support this petition. Anyone who lives in Central Florida can sign. Also, please share this petition link with your neighbors and coworkers.

DeLand is counting on us.

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