Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Who the heck is running SunRail?

Funny thing happened this week during the SunRail Customer Advisory Committee meeting.

The Florida Department of Transportation named  Nicola Liquori as the first-ever executive director of SunRail.

The announcement of the appointment was made several hours before the advisory committee met on Tuesday. For some baffling reason, the appointment information was not shared with advisory committee members who advocate for SunRail riders. Probably just a minor oversight, right?

Until now, we’ve been under the impression that FDOT engineer Tawny Olore was the main person calling the shots for SunRail. Now we get Nicola Liquori, who interestingly, comes to SunRail from Florida’s Turnpike Enterprise – a highway agency.

Florida’s Turnpike? Or to put it in the words of reader Simon Duvall: “Wouldn’t a person with a railroad background be a better choice?”

One would think so, especially since FDOT Nicola Liquori’s responsibilities at SunRail will include: finances, construction, maintenance, operations, rail corridors and safety.

It’s also curious this announcement was made about a month since Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer, who chairs the SunRail Commission, raised the idea of having local government take over the management of SunRail now instead of waiting until 2021 when FDOT funding for the rail system runs out.

A rider asked us if the executive director appointment is good or bad for SunRail riders. Hard to say. If Nicola Liquori is going to focus on expanding the train service to weekends and late-night service, that would be excellent.

But if she’s just another empty suit and a Rick Scott flunky, then she may as well stay out on the Turnpike collecting tolls.

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