SunRail offering promotions to boost ridership

- SunRail is looking for more passengers. The train service is upping the ante with more promotions.

People are riding the SunRail, but even Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT) officials admit that some of the numbers for ridership aren't quite where they expected them to be. That's why they're continuing to offer promotions to increase those numbers. 

“I don't understand why a lot more people wouldn't be on the trains,” said Barry Ymer, of Poinciana.

Neither does FDOT.

“What's there not to like about SunRail? The challenge is to get people to be regular fare-paying customers who count on SunRail and we count on them,” said FDOT District 5 spokesperson Steve Olson.

Olson says it certainly has been a challenge so far. The numbers year over year have steadily decreased. In its first year opened, FDOT says SunRail had more than 971,000 riders. The following year, it dropped to 914,000, then 907,000, and then 831,000.

“We’ve got to keep marketing it. We've got to keep pushing.”

That’s why SunRail ran a promotions this week, asking people to pledge and promise to ride SunRail, and they would get a free roundtrip ticket to use Friday. About 150 people took advantage of the promotion. Those who are riding SunRail see no downside. 

“What’s not to like? Air condition. It's a comfortable ride. You can sleep. No traffic, which is a plus,” said Ymer.

“I discovered a lot of places that I can get to within walking distance,” said Diane Jones, of Davenport.

The one train of thought riders seem to have is “I think they should run it on weekends.”

It’s the comment that always stops Steve Olson in his tracks.

“You need to find the funds to do that and then you also need to find the staffing to do that.”

That’s something those already on-board with SunRail hope will come. 

“I think it's just something new and people are a little bit apprehensive about getting on a train.”

Olson says SunRail’s airport stop is still a while away. It’s part of Phase III, and it’s still in the planning process.

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