PHOTO BY COLIN FORWARD (WEBSITE)
EDIT: Saturday service to begin Saturday, October 8.
A recent fundraising information packet from the City included a letter from Mayor Buddy Dyer discussing future plans for Saturday SunRail service. This supports an earlier story we published on September 15, that hinted that the SunRail was working on testing something soon. More on that HERE. The letter was originally posted by our friends at SunRailRiders.com, HERE.
The letter, which we’ve included below, details how the City is planning to launch a pilot project that will extend train service to Saturdays between October of this year and January 2017.
According to City Hall, the details are “still a work in progress and nothing has been formally announced yet.”
Dear Friend,The number one question we hear about SunRail is, “When is our train going to run on the weekends?” This illustrates both the enthusiasm people have for our young mass transit system, as well as their desire to see SunRail’s operating hours expand beyond those that primarily serve daily commuters.As you may know, SunRail was designed to be a commuter rail system that would immediately give residents an alternative to I-‐4 and their vehicles during daily commuting hours – while also serving as the backbone of a future multi-modal transit system that connects with and enhances other forms of transit. That future includes the weekend service so many of our Central Florida residents desire.At this moment, SunRail is not in a position to expand service to weekends. We knew this was going to be the case for the first several years of SunRail’s existence. That said, accepting the status quo and letting challenges stand in our way is not what we do in Orlando. When we see opportunities to make our community stronger and increase the quality of life for our residents, we work together to craft creative, partnership-‐driven solutions to turn good ideas into reality. That’s precisely what some of our major businesses and community organizations are doing… through a pilot project that will fund SATURDAY SERVICE ON SUNRAIL FROM OCTOBER THROUGH JANUARY.Through a unique nonprofit partnership, the Downtown Orlando Partnership, The Downtown Orlando Foundation, The Downtown Development Board, some of Orlando’s major businesses and key community stakeholders are working together to fund and lead this exciting effort.
This project is important for a number of reasons. First, by offering leisure service, we create opportunities for residents to “try out” SunRail. This will, in turn, lead to more people adopting the train as their commuting method of choice and building long‐term ridership on the system. Second, this community-‐driven project puts us in a position to showcase the demand for expanded service and, thus, helps permanent weekend service become a reality more rapidly. Third, this project represents an important shared commitment by our businesses and civic community to the success of mass transit options throughout our region.Additionally, the October ‐ January window features major events occurring virtually every Saturday in Downtown Orlando, as well as near station stops up and down the SunRail line. SunRail service on Saturdays will drive attendance to these events and give attendees a new transportation option. The SunRail On Saturdays project is an important endeavor for our community and I strongly encourage you to get involved and become a funding partner. We cannot do this without you. Accompanying this letter is a document that outlines the various levels for nonprofit contributions.If you would like to learn more about the project or have questions, please contact Bridget Keefe at the Downtown Orlando Partnership at (407) 595-0897.Sincerely,Buddy Dyer