110 W. New York Ave.
DeLand, FL 32720
SunRail paid boardings exceed expectations
Tips for travel on and around trains
By Pat Andrews
posted May 21, 2014 - 10:55:33am
Steam locomotives may be a thing of the past, but that didn't stop SunRail from starting its first week of paid service with a full head of steam.
Ridership dropped to less than half on the first day May 19, but boardings were still more than the Florida Department of Transportation expected.
“SunRail passenger boardings on first day of paid service: 4,177. Goal to reach: 4,300 daily boardings after first year of operation. Decent start,” FDOT spokesman Steve Olson reported.
During free service May 1-16, the commuter trains saw between 8,586 and 17,110 boardings per day. The final day had the highest number.
During a visit to the DeBary station May 20, between 40 and 50 people waited on the platform for the 10 a.m. train. The parking lot was fairly full, but spaces were available. SunRail ambassadors helped customers figure out ticket vending and boarding procedures.
Now that the ride-for-free sightseeing crowd has died down, here's some useful information for people who will be paying for SunRail service.
Trains from and to DeBary — Southbound trains depart every half-hour between 5:30 a.m. and 10 a.m. There are two midday trains, leaving the station at 12:30 p.m. and 3 p.m.
Evening trains head south from DeBary every half-hour between 3:30 and 6 p.m., and a final train departs at 8 p.m.
Northbound trains arrive in DeBary every half-hour 7:18-9:48 a.m., and at 12:18 p.m. and 2:48 p.m. Evening trains arrive every half-hour 5:48 p.m.-8:18 p.m., with a final train arriving at 10:18 p.m.
Passengers are advised to arrive at the station in time to purchase tickets at one of the four kiosks before the train pulls in. Trains stop for only about five minutes — long enough to get people boarded — and then they're gone.
Trains run the full 31.5-mile Phase I route from DeBary to Sand Lake Road, on the south side of Orlando, in one hour and three minutes, including 10 stops in between. They don't wait around.
How to purchase and use tickets — Tickets can be purchased at one of four ticket kiosks at each station, using cash, debit card or credit card. The price depends on where you want to go: $2 to board, plus $1 for every county line you cross.
Once you have a ticket, locate one of the six validator units at each station to tap your ticket on the screen. Wait for the beep; then you're ready to board.
Keep your ticket, SunRail Project Manager Tawny Olore said. SunRail employees will check them aboard the train.
When you arrive at your destination, locate a validator at that station and tap off. For round-trip tickets, tap on and off when you board and exit the return train.
Tickets can be purchased for the day: $7.50 for a round trip to Orlando, or reloadable SunCards can be purchased for a week, month, or year's service, for regular riders.
SunCards can be purchased at ticket kiosks on the station platform or off the rack at a number of retailers.
Purchase a SunCard online at www.SunRail.com, and the card will be mailed to you at no extra charge.
Riding in comfort — SunRail passenger cabs offer comfortable seats with tables and electrical outlets, so commuters can easily work on laptops and keep them charged. Onboard Wi-Fi connects passengers to the Internet.
It's OK to bring aboard bottled water, soft drinks or coffee in covered containers. Food is not allowed on board.
Luggage storage and bike racks are available at no charge.
The trains are equipped with toilets; the stations are not.
How to get around off the train — Lynx in the Orlando area and Votran in Volusia County provide bus service, car pools, shuttles and more, connecting with the SunRail stations.
Check the schedules at www.golynx.com and www.votran.org. Bus schedules are available at SunRail stations, as well.
Those who ride Votran and Lynx “feeder buses” can board SunRail and travel free within one county by swiping the bus-fare card at any SunRail ticket vending machine, saving $2. Bus riders still pay the $1 for each county line passed.
Passengers can also bring bicycles aboard the SunRail trains for transportation after they get off the train.
FDOT offers an "emergency ride home" for people who need that help due to unplanned events such as a sick child or unscheduled overtime. Visit www.rethinkyourcommute.com or call 1-866-610-RIDE (7433).
SunRail safety — Two accidents, both involving vehicles parked on the train tracks, have occurred since May 1. The last one was in Maitland on May 19, the first day of paid service.
A vehicle stalled on the track in Maitland around 2:20 p.m., and was struck by the oncoming SunRail train, delaying the train's arrival in DeBary by about 90 minutes.
The first was May 7, when a landscaping trailer parked partly on the track was struck by a train, delaying service up and down the line by two hours.
The FDOT advises motorists and pedestrians to stay at least 25 feet from the track, and to never try to beat an oncoming train.
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