Recently we heard howls of unhappiness when residents learned that SunRail will not be running during the popular Winter Park Art Festival.
We share your frustration. SunRail service leaves much to be desired.
The problem, however, is bigger than the Winter Park Art Festival; weekend train service, or even SunRail.
|SunRail during 2017 art festival|
Don’t blame the people who operate the trains.
Blame the politicians who haven’t allocated the money necessary to provide the public transit service we need.
SunRail, like the Lynx bus system, is tragically underfunded. There is no dedicated funding source – such as a tax or a fee -- to support SunRail or Lynx. Every year Lynx begs Orlando and local counties for the money needed to keep the buses rolling.
The state is providing the money to keep SunRail running until 2021. Then SunRail becomes OUR (Orlando, Orange, Osceola, Seminole and Volusia counties) financial responsibility.
That bill will be more than $30 million annually. Where will that money come from? No one knows.
Anyone who tells you that SunRail and Lynx should be self sufficient -- without a taxpayer subsidy -- doesn’t know what they’re talking about.
There is no public transit system anywhere in the world that supports itself solely from the fare box. All transit systems, including airlines and the paved street outside your house, are subsidized by taxpayers.
Just because you have a car doesn’t mean you’re immune from the money crisis facing SunRail and Lynx.
There’s a good chance that the people who scrub the toilet at your job, or stack the shelves at your local supermarket, may not be able to afford cars because they aren’t paid a living wage. They rely on public transit – some riding two hours or more to and from work.
For those – like us – fortunate enough to own a car you probably noticed that traffic throughout Central Florida gets worse every day. Public transit offers people a cost-effective and stress-free alternative to driving.
The ongoing I-4 Ultimate Project, is not a solution to the road congestion. Additional lanes being added to I-4 will quickly reach capacity and compound Central Florida’s hopeless traffic jams.
Our awful traffic is very expensive.
A recent study showed that an average Orlando-area motorist wastes 32 hours a year stuck in congestion at a cost of $1,100 per driver. Our janky public transit system contributed to the Orlando-area’s low ranking in the competition to land Amazon’s second headquarters.
But there’s more. A recent investigative report in the Huffington Post showed how the poisonous exhaust fumes from the vehicles using Interstate 4 and the 408 are suffocating people living in downtown Orlando’s Parramore community. Today, it’s Parramore. Tomorrow it will be your neighborhood.
You may think greenhouses gases and global warming are a joke. We don’t.
Our community needs and deserves effective and convenient public transportation – both SunRail and Lynx.
If you’re pissed that you can’t ride SunRail to the Winter Park Art Festival, or on any weekend or late at night, then tell your city, county, state and federal elected officials that you demand more service.
Pols are paying attention. This is an election year.
Time is running out for SunRail.
See you on The Rail, but not at the art festival.