The Central Florida Commuter Rail Commission (CFCRC) discussed Monday, possibly extending the hours of operation of SunRail, given the growing calls for the commuter rail line to operate on week-ends and overnight.
SunRail, which opened to the public on May 1, connects DeBary in Volusia County to Sand Lake road in Orange County, only runs from Monday to Friday.
An online petition on Change.org, entitled ‘Run SunRail on the weekends and later at night‘ to be delivered to Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer, Florida Secretary of Transportation, Ananth Prasad and Rep. John Mica (R-FL) has already garnered more than 1,700 signatures.
Orange County Mayor Teresa Jacobs and Chair of the CFCRC said, the best sign of success is when citizens are clamoring for more, but any expansion of the rail line will come with added cost.
Florida Department of Transportation officials said, the first step would be to determine the cost to run the trains late into the night and on Saturdays and Sundays.
Ridership on the commuter line is up, having met and in some instances exceeded expectations, according to transportation officials. Service is most popular at the Winter Park, De Bary, Church Street and Sand Lake station stops.
With three SunRail-connected crashes in two months, authorities are ramping safety initiatives, including drivers’ education programs. In all three cases drivers unwisely stopped on railroad tracks.
Meanwhile, a second phase, which will see five new stations linking Sand Lake Road in Orange County to Poinciana in Osceola County, and DeBary to DeLand in Volusia County, is moving ahead. And according to the Orlando Business Journal, SunRail Phase 3, which will extend the commuter line to Orlando International Airport is already in the works. This 5.5-mile extension will run from just north of the planned Meadow Woods Station into the airport’s planned $215 million intermodal transit facility.
The next meeting of the Central Florida Commuter Rail Commission is expected to take place in mid- to -late fall.