110 W. New York Ave.
DeLand, FL 32720
By Al Everson
posted Apr 2, 2014 - 12:19:14pm
The advent of SunRail commuter service means the end of weekday bus service between Orange City and Orlando, according to Volusia County and the Florida Department of Transportation.
"When SunRail starts, Express service ends," said Dave Byron, director of community services for Volusia County. "There are notifications going out to Express bus riders."
SunRail, the long-planned commuter-rail service between DeBary and Downtown Orlando with several stops along the way, is set to begin operating May 1. The final day of the Orlando Express bus service will be April 30, unless there is a last-minute change of plans.
Byron said bus service for West Volusia's Orlando-bound commuters will no longer be necessary.
"If you think about it, it makes sense. They are the target customers for SunRail. It would be a duplication of service," he told The Beacon. "It's going away."
Byron said Votran buses will provide feeder service between the Orange City Park & Ride at Saxon Boulevard and Interstate 4, and the DeBary SunRail station. The fare will be $1.50.
Bus commuters don’t have to pay the $2 boarding fee. After that, the cost of a SunRail trip is $1 per county line crossed.
Florida Department of Transportation spokesman Steve Olson confirmed Orlando Express riders will have to change their habits soon, but "there will be service to get them from Saxon to DeBary."
The current Orlando Express service is actually an FDOT-operated service, with participation by Votran and Lynx. To encourage Orlando Express patrons to use SunRail, Olson said, the FDOT is funding the feeder-bus service at a cost of $174,000 per year for each of the next three years.
Orlando Express, also known as Votran Route 200, began in November 1997. At first, five buses departed from the Orange City Park & Ride in the mornings, and five buses returned in the late afternoon five days a week, Monday through Friday, except major holidays.
Due to a lack of passengers, the number of buses was reduced to three in the morning and three in the afternoon.
Despite higher gasoline prices, ridership on the Route 200 buses has been fewer than 100 per day. The usage has also declined in recent months. Olson provided figures showing the downward trend in ridership: October, 2,045; November, 1,508; December, 1,478; and January, 1,775.
Olson said SunRail may have an advantage over the Orlando Express, because the trains will travel faster than buses.
"The Express buses are subjected to the same traffic conditions as any other vehicle," he said.
Just as Orlando Express now runs on weekdays, SunRail will operate Monday through Friday, Byron said.
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