SunRail, Central Florida’s new commuter train, officially opens on May 1—free of charge for riders until May 16.
Commuters receive a chance to try out the public transportation schedules, and at each station SunRail “ambassadors” will be available to assist and answer questions. Basically, riders will be able to kick the tires or, in this case, take a ride to check things out.
The anticipation has been building for the past year and in recent months has gone to a higher gear. More than 12,000 passes have been presold to individual riders and companies seeking to help out their employees.
The trains are designed to run to accommodate commuters’ busy work schedules. While the railways are closed on weekends, they will run Monday through Friday, with station arrivals every 30 minutes during heavy operating times (mornings and afternoons) and every two hours during the slower times (noon and late evenings). A one-way ticket costs $2 plus an additional $1 for each county line crossed. SunRail offers a monthly pass for $56—a considerable discount.
May 1 marks the roll out of Phase 1, including 12 stations connecting DeBary with Sand Lake Road near the Orlando International Airport along 32 miles of rail. Among the station locations: DeBary, Sanford, Maitland, Winter Park, Church Street and Sand Lake Road, providing an alternative to some of Florida’s most congested roadways. Each locomotive pulls one to four passenger cars, with each housing up to 150 seated passengers; individual electrical outlets and free Wi-Fi are available.
Clearly, SunRail seeks to alleviate some of the traffic concerns across four counties (Orange, Osceola, Seminole and Volusia) but it also is intended to aid the environment. Each locomotive contains two engines—one for acceleration, or the “prime mover,” and the other to power the passenger cars. Both are diesel-electric motors that deliver reduced gas emissions. These latest diesel-electric engines also sport less heat, which means less wear and tear and ultimately less maintenance and longer life for the engines.
Additionally, commuter education is part of SunRail’s current
mission. To help inform riders about the safety protocols involved in train safety, SunRail has introduced a safety mascot named Tie. Through videos and live appearances at local schools, the 2-foot squirrel puppet makes the rounds to teach children, specifically, about the responsibilities and dangers of the new railway system.
With Phase 1 on the move, what’s next? A Phase 2 begins construction this summer with another 30 miles—extending the line north to DeLand in Volusia County and south into Poinciana in Osceola County. In 2016, Phase 2 promises to bring even more excitement to Florida’s Super Region, adding to what already is one of the most active metropolitan areas nationwide.
For now, though, the excitement of the launch of SunRail has arrived. With it comes a comfortable commuter experience, financial savings, less congested highways and environmental awareness. Oh, and there’s a potential economic windfall. Aside from expedited travel across the region, watch for commercial and residential developments around many of the stations.
Take a test ride.
Hear the whistle? SunRail is here!