Thursday, December 31, 2015

Heard enough excuses from SunRail managers?

Don’t know about you, but we’re tired of hearing excuses from SunRail managers.

·         Riders want weekend service.

·         Riders want to be able to take SunRail home late at night after they leave downtown Orlando events and clubs.

·         Riders want trains to run more frequently so they don’t have to wait 2 ½ hours between trains during off-peak hours.

SunRail managers have a hundred reasons why they can’t provide the service people want. And that’s why SunRail ridership remains well short of the more than 4,000 daily riders that was projected for the first year of service that began in May 2014.

Don’t wet your pants rail haters. It’s not that people don’t want to ride SunRail. The problem is that SunRail’s service is disappointing.

The public -- especially millennials – are becoming increasingly interested in mass transit. Yet the public transit available in Central Florida – SunRail, LYNX and Votran – is, well, half-assed. Sorry to be crude, but there’s no other way to describe Central Florida mass transit.

Let’s be honest. LYNX and Votran serves people who can’t afford a car. The amenities are few and the bus schedules are terrible. SunRail serves suits who work 9 to 5, Monday to Friday. Unlike Miami, Charlotte, N.C., San Francisco and many more, our public transit is wimpy and poorly coordinated.

SunRail is currently spending a fortune on consultants to figure out how to get more people to ride. The answer is not difficult to discover.

SunRail needs to take a page from Disney’s playbook. Disney works hard to understand what their fans want. And then guess what? Disney delivers what the fans want. That’s why Disney can charge hundreds of dollars for admission to their parks and happy fans line up to pay.

Time for the local elected officials who sit on the commission that oversees SunRail to step up their game and start asking sharper questions and demanding more from the FDOT managers who operate SunRail.

We expect our county, state and federal elected officials to do more to get the money needed to extend SunRail to DeLand and expand service hours. They really need to get busy and deliver because 2016 is an election for many of those officials.

Enough with the excuses. Central Florida is a 21st century world-class community. Give us the SunRail service we need and deserve.

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