Residents in Orlando Florida who are fed up with high gas prices will soon have another option for getting to work—the Central Florida SunRail, Central Florida’s new commuter rail line.
Orlando residents can save money on gas, and forget about gridlock and parking hassles. Instead they can cat-nap, surf the internet and take the train to work. The passenger cars offer “comfort seating,” which include tables for work space, free wi-fi, power outlets, bike racks and restroom facilities. Trains will will operate on existing railroad tracks now used by Amtrak and freight trains.
This double-decker commuter line will initially connect 31 miles from DeBarry in Volusia county north of Orlando with the center city of Orlando and go to Sand Lake Road, just south of Orlando. Future extensions are planned to go as far north as DeLand and south through Kissimmee and into the Poinciana area.
How will the savings on gas prices add up for Orlando residents? Suburban park-and-ride stations will provide free commuter parking. And tickets are approximately $2.00 to $4.00 each way. Prepaid unlimited travel cards can reduce that cost significantly. When compared to driving a gas hungry SUV in traffic, Orlando residents will save money on gas and stress.
Initially, trains will run every 30 minutes during peak hours and every two hours off-peak. There are also discounted bus connections and transfers available. There’s no service on weekends starting out.
Let’s face it, gas isn’t getting a whole lot cheaper in Orlando. So riding SunRail to work will mean fewer trips to the gas station and less wear and tear on vehicles. Reducing commuting time means fewer brake jobs and other maintenance issues. In addition to spending less on fuel fill-ups at the gas station, Orlando residents will also save on insurance premiums—since insurance usually goes down when a car is driven fewer miles per year.
One of the biggest worries some would-be commuters have is what to do if an emergency comes up. (Sick kid at school, unanticipated overtime scheduled.) SunRail is thinking two steps ahead and has partnered with reThink, a service that serves as a back-up plan for commuters who need to arrange transportation home immediately due to an unanticipated event. Their partner reThink will reimburse commuters for expenses of an emergency ride home.
Many Orlando residents are eager to see the launch of their first commuter rail this spring, which they hope will save them money at the gas pump. The SunRail website even has a nifty calculator to help commuters determine just how much they can save on gas from trading out car rides for train rides.
The cost of the project so far is about $1.2 billion, with 50% federal funding, 25% state and 25% local.