By Mandi Howell
SunRail, we need to talk.
I think we need couples’ therapy. I feel like our relationship is lopsided and filled with empty promises. I believe your heart is in the right place and that you mean well. I want to make this work, but I really need to you be present and listen to my needs if that is going to happen.
I knew you had a troubled past when I got involved, but you seemed to have changed and learned from those missteps, so I gave you a clean slate. I have built you up to everyone who would listen. I have remained faithful. I support you, but I feel neglected and taken for granted. SunRail, it is going to take some effort on your part if this is going to get better.
I started out a naïve rider at the Lake Mary Station in March of 2016.
Three weeks later, still in the SunRail “love bubble” I caught a 2:25 out of Church Street to head back to Seminole. I would learn upon my arrival at the hospital that my mother passed away unexpectedly. I was so grateful you were there for me when I needed you most -- this gratitude has bought you a lot of forgiveness. I learned a few weeks later that it was luck that had delivered me where I needed to go that day.
I learned you weren’t as consistent as I had believed. I learned that, had I been moments later in my distraught nature, you would have left me on that platform weeping and vulnerable for two full hours because you do not serve your ridership. Your ridership must accommodate you.
I told myself I just had to work around your selfishness. That I can live with you not being there for me whenever I need you because I love you. Besides, all day, reliable, consistent, convenient public transportation is just subway movie lore. Here in the Sunshine reality doesn’t work like that. It also isn’t fair to compare you to my ex transits – LightRail, PATH, MTA, the Metro. Yeah, I got around in my day, but I am 100 percent with you now.
I also recall being concerned about your treatment of others from the get go- that you without impact to conscience charge Volusia “County” riders the same as Seminole and Orange but don’t service them even remotely the same. Even though it didn’t impact me at the time, it seemed inherently unfair and dishonest. I was assured it hinged on a future station in DeLand- which I don’t believe you truly intend to deliver on. I’ve heard rumors of Orange City and Daytona Beach stations -- more lip service to placate a guilty conscience. It is almost as if you can’t tell the truth sometimes. I don’t want to be dramatic but, SunRail, you’re abusing trust.
I have tried not to nit-pick the little things you do -- like calling it a 30-day pass when I only get 20 days.
I have tried to overlook the times you have left a minute or two early from a station and left would-be riders stranded.
I have tried not to dwell on the time when you closed your doors because it was “cold” and neither the station attendant or myself could get the buttons to work and you left me behind.
I have tried to understand why you stopped the later service you had in the beginning -- a flat-out ban on Date Night.
I have tried to accept that your ticket-tappers don’t consistently work -- they double tap or don’t tap. I even tried to work past the trouble this causes when I must call customer service. Speaking to customer service is even worse than the disappointment I feel when you let me down.
SunRail, you never give more. You don’t even genuinely try. You talk a good game.
Do you remember almost 2 years ago when you offered service on “some” Saturdays? All you gave were poorly communicated schedules at the last moment for a few Saturdays scattered over a three-month period. Sometimes I only learned about the service after it was over. It’s almost as if you never wanted Saturday service -- you refused to listen to feedback or even praise.
It makes me wonder if you are even remotely serious about an airport connection? Are you willing to commit to 7 days and increased frequency for the airport? If so, why not start working towards it now? You see how poor things are going when you wait until the last minute. I sometimes think that you haven’t thought about the future at all, that you’re making things up as you go.
SunRail, we are in this for the long haul. But, we need serious professional help. We need someone who knows what they are doing and strives for what is best for both of us. We need an outsider who isn’t in bed with either one of us -- someone who has experience in situations like ours.
I really hope you are as committed to making this work as I am -- I really want the best for both of us.
Mandi Howell is a DeBary rider who works in downtown Orlando.
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