We’ve been hearing all sorts of things about SunRail’s schedule. While the schedule on the website makes it pretty clear that there isn’t any weekend service we are constantly hearing from people who it will run on the weekend, for special events or late at night.
To set the record straight I reached out to FDOT spokesperson Steve Olson. FDOT will be operating SunRail at launch and for the next seven years. After which, it will be turned over to the local government funding partners (Volusia, Seminole, Orange and Osceola counties, as well as the City of Orlando).
Essentially there aren’t any current plans for weekend service or special event service and exactly when the trains will stop running on the weekday has not been determined but it will be sometime between 7 p.m and midnight.
The plan has always been to operate on the weekdays for commuters “the local agreements that FDOT has with our local funding partners (which were unanimously approved by each of our funding partners in 2007) call for weekday service during the FDOT funding period,” Olson told Bungalower.
The agreement between FDOT and the local funding partners goes even further and states that “The Commuter Rail System will not provide any train service between midnight and 5:00 a.m., legal Holidays, and Saturdays and Sundays.”
Right not you can expect the train to be geared towards commuters “The current schedule is to operate trains every half hour between 5:30 – 8:30 a.m. and between 4 – 7 p.m. in the evenings, with service every two hours during off-peak periods,” Olson said.
Off-peak hours haven’t been determined yet but it will include service after 7 p.m. but not before 5 a.m. “Our agreements with CSX call for us to be off the corridor between midnight and 5 am. Now that our vehicles are in, we will be doing test runs in order to develop a full schedule prior to revenue service. There will be off-peak service after 7 pm.” Olson said.
I asked Olson if there is a possibility that the service could be expanded. He said “If there is passenger demand for additional weekday service or weekend service during the FDOT funding period, that would be subject to negotiations with the local funding partners.”
At this point it’s just too early to know what the additional costs would be to operate SunRail late at night, on the weekend or for special events. “The system is designed, however, to allow trains to run every 15 minutes or so. So any additional cost associated with expanded hours of service would largely be operational in nature – staffing, fuel, maintenance, and so forth,” Olson said.
The demand he says will be determined by both on-board surveys and a Customer Service Committee who will provide input and guidance on customer service activities, including hours of operation.
It should be noted that the agreement does allow FDOT to have train service for special events even if they are late at night or on the weekend provided that the party requesting the train service pays for all for all of the additional costs and it still meets their obligations to CSX.
And since everyone loves fun train math. We started thinking about how late the train could run and still meet the needs of the CSX agreement. We know off-peak service will run every two hours. The last on-peak train is at 7 p.m. That would mean the first off-peak would run at 9 p.m. If there was a second off-peak train, it would run at 11 p.m. (assuming the train starts on the hour). According to the SunRail website, they estimate it would take a train 56 minutes to travel all of phase one (from DeBary to Sand Lake Road). That travel time when Phase two is added (DeLand to Poinciana) is an hour and thirty-three minutes. That would mean a 11 p.m. train would not be off the tracks by midnight for Phase two and for phase one it would be close. Maybe they will be able to make adjustments to the schedule so that an 11 p.m train could be off the tracks in time.
Yet again, small town thinking prevails. This train would be best served by full usage. This includes ESPECIALLY late nights (at least Thursday and Friday) and weekends. I can not image these trains not being full at these times with an ever increasing downtown venue offering all the things we all have wanted…basketball, soccer, concerts, arts and theater not to mention all the dinning and shopping that we people that live in the suburbs do in places like Winter Park and Sand Lake Rd. AND all the partying that the young ones do downtown. This is a BIG miss DOT.
What a shame. Commuter rail is only for people who work M-F 9-5?
Thank you for the advice on who to contact. I will certainly do so. Lots of great comments here. I think, if anything they should do a trial run after it starts up to determine ridership. That only seems fair.
It can only change if the local governments update their agreement.
Very bad decision. Our family would only use it on the weekends.
That will change as the ridership increases and the train people figure out what to do….it’s all guessing at this point along with some “studies”…… They will get better at managing how, when as it is used…..
It’s a pretty poor decision seeing as they would make more revenue with late operation hours especially on weekends. That would be like shutting down tolled car pool lanes on a highway after the work travel hours were over. If you have a transportation system that people want to use, let them
Commuter rail, not metro rail. Its initial purpose is to get people to and from work.
Were still acting like a small town who wants to be a big city. Not running on weekends? Thats absurd.
Your city and/or county representative would be the ones who would have to amend the operating agreement and provide funding for SunRail to run beyond the current limits.
Did not know that. We were planning/thinking we would take trips to park ave for shopping and dining. Possibly to other cities on the route as well on the weekends. Also, for an area based on tourism and people who work 24/7 in this industry, isn’t that defeating the purpose? I was one of them. Who should we write to about this?
Thanks, Matt, for the info. As someone who lives within walking distance of a soon-to-be Sunrail station, I hope those in charge will change their minds and consider the needs and desires of those of us who want to go downtown in the evenings. I am hoping we’ll be able to take the train to concerts and plays at the Dr. Phillips Center for the Performing Arts (which opens next fall) and to Mad Cow Theatre. I also can’t imagine that the folks at the Amway Center are happy about Sunrail not considering Magic fans and other arena patrons in their plans. There are a whole lot of people who go downtown after dark. If the train runs until 11 p.m. or midnight, I’d ride it regularly. Let’s hope the powers that be are listening.
W out late night an wknd routes the train will loose steam
unrelated, I read the plan for the Sanford station and it calls for a shuttle or trolley service to the downtown Sanford area. pretty cool.
Chad, there is also talk of them putting a spur off of the Sanford stop over to the Sanford Airport in the future.
Our roads are strained and the future of trains in Orlando could be bright. I really hope they manage this project properly.
Light-rail on some of those key corridors would be excellent!
I’d love to see Sunrail ride right down the middle of Semoran, maybe even on an elevated platform.
For what it’s worth, they said they will consider expanding to late nights and weekends if it’s successful. But to me that’s a catch-22, since I think it would only be successful if they already included late nights and weekends…
There are clearly lots of people who SunRail doesn’t make sense for but there are lots of people who work downtown (or at one of the two big hospitals) and live north or south within a few miles of the line. Once I-4 construction begins it will shave a lot of time off of those folks commutes. And yes I also think having weekend and late-night service would be a good idea but that’s not what the cities funded.
Since a majority of Orlando doesn’t work directly off of the Sun Rail track and with Lynx providing such limited service you would think that Sun Rail would focus on recreational users for profit that would be riding primarily during nights, weekends and special events. Stops are located near pedestrian friendly shopping/entertainment districts already such as SoDo, Downtown, Ivanhoe, and Winter Park. It’s crazy how they think riders will use it with such limited availability. You have to make a product convenient and appealing for it to build popularity. The current schedule is asking for few riders, in my opinion. Same with Lynx. I understand the funding is limited but if you don’t invest in an efficient system, no one except those with no other option will resort to using it. I would love to use public transit but it currently adds way to much time to my schedule to make it worthwhile.
I think they are already working to address that. Especially now that the Orlando to Miami train will be happening from the airport. The proposed train terminal at the airport even has a spot for a SunRail spur. Connecting Downtown to the Airport would be great.
im really disappointed with lack of service to the airport. you would think that would be a priority.