Over the next two years, during construction, Central Florida leaders need to ensure that SunRail emobodies the best practices and not ignore valid points raised by SunRail's fiercest critics. I would suggest the following as preliminary thoughts:
* CRITICISM #1: SunRail will compete poorly with automobiles since trains will run only every half-hour during rush hour. Trains every half-hour during rush hour are, in fact, inadequate. An initial--not long-term goal--should strive for ten minute separation between trains, which may require the purchase of additional locomotives. The built-in $77 million (30%) contingency in the budget for both Phases I and II could allow for such purchases given that contract prices are locked-in. The fear of cost overruns expressed by SunRail opponents should prove unfounded.
* CRITICISM #2: The trains won't serve where people want to go, including the airport, convention center, or Disney. This criticism ignored, or discounted the fact that SunRail is serving central business districts in Winter Park and Kissimmee, Downtown Orlando as well as major employers such as Tuperware, Florida Hospital, and Orlando Regional Medical Center. However, click HERE for a video from the Orlando Sentinel of Mayor Jacobs' recent comments. I agree strongly with her assessment of a need to connect SunRail to the Orlando International Airport and Orange County Convention Center. Ideally, I would like to see the ability for Williamsburg residents--many elderly--to access the rail network.
MetroPlan's vision for a multi-modal Central Florida, with connections to UCF and the theme parks, should remain a long-term goal:
|Click to enlarge -- Conceptual Map|
Ironically, within hours of Secretary Prasad's SunRail announcement, a severe crash blocked traffic in both directions on I-4 in Polk County--a reminder of how placing all your transportation eggs in one basket is unwise.