BY ASHLEY D. THOMAS
The long-awaited SunRail commuter rail system was scheduled to begin regular service on Thursday, May 1. Commuters will have the opportunity to ride for free for the first two weeks until May 16.
The free service is designed to allow passengers to experience the comfort and ease of commuting on SunRail, and become familiar with SunRail schedules.
The grand opening celebration held Wednesday to debut SunRail has been deemed a success.
“Everything went great today. Everything went as planned and we were even ahead of schedule,” said Jessica Keane, a spokesperson for the Florida Department of Transportation.
Ahead of the May 1 opening to the public, people were invited to their local stations along the 32-mile stretch of track for bell-ringing ceremonies at one of 12 stops. The track runs from DeBary in Volusia County to Sand Lake Road in Orlando, making 10 stops along the way for a total of 12 stations for the first phase of the line.
The other stations are in Sanford, Lake Mary, Longwood, Altamonte Springs, Maitland and Winter Park and five stops total in Orlando. Eventually, SunRail will extend north to DeLand and south to Poinciana.
“I was in the (Florida) Legislature when we passed the bill for SunRail in the transit system,” said At-Large Representative of the Volusia County Council Joyce Cusack, who served in the Florida House of Representatives for four terms. “And now to be in the County Council when the SunRail becomes a reality and have the opportunity to be on that train today. It was a wonderful experience and to say that government works.”
‘Tap on, tap off’
“We are excited for the trains to start,” Keane added. “We will be on board with the passengers tomorrow.”
During the free trial period, SunRail ambassadors will be available at each station and on board trains to answer any questions that SunRail riders might have. The ambassadors will also be available on May 19, and for several weeks thereafter, to assist customers with pass purchases at ticket vending machines located on each platform.
They also will remind riders to “tap on” at ticket validators before boarding SunRail and to “tap off” at their final destination. The SunRail ambassadors will be easy to spot in black polos with bright SunRail logo, and black pants.
For more information and routes on SunRail, log on to www.sunrail.com.