Sunday, May 4, 2014

First Friday Night Run--SunRail Brings Hundreds to Park Avenue

Winter Park Station southbound platform at approximately 8:30 PM Friday night. 

We'll have a better sense of ridership after several weeks, but if SunRail's first Friday night run is any indication,  the commuter train will bring hundreds of people to Park Avenue's shops and restaurants.  

We caught the 8:36 PM southbound train, the last of the evening, at Winter Park Station and rode it roundtrip to Sand Lake Road, returning to Park Avenue more than an hour later.  The train was standing room only on the way south with a celebratory atmosphere.   At night, when visibility is limited, it's difficult to know when the train starts and stops, it's so smooth.  The train is nicer than the light rail that serves big cities such as New York, Chicago, or Washington by featuring tables, plush seating, and bathroom facilities.  A countdown clock to the next train arrival would be nice on the platforms. 

Both the northbound and southbound platforms were crowded with people returning home from Park Avenue. I would estimate that Park Avenue businesses had several hundred more patrons than otherwise Friday evening thanks to SunRail.

The only other rail stop with a meaningful crowd that boarded the train was Church Street Station.

Downtown Kissimmee--another destination--aims to benefit when SunRail expands in Phase II.  Mt. Dora would benefit, too, if the Orange Blossom Express becomes reality and so, too, would Downtown Winter Garden with a spur. 

The initial lack of weekend service has left many people dumbfounded.  But on Friday night, Metro Orlando seemed to take a huge step forward.  

     Northbound platform, Winter Park Station, at about 8:20 PM Friday night.