Happy birthday, SunRail! May 1 marks one year since SunRail began operation. I was there on opening day, and I’m so glad to see that traveling by SunRail is only becoming more and more popular. As someone who regularly commuted to work via SunRail from May through December in 2014, I thought this would be a good time to offer my Top Five tips for successful SunRail commuting.
1. Do the Math. It may seem at first glance that SunRail isn’t a good choice for you, but with the I-4 Ultimate construction project looming, it’s definitely worth a closer look. Living in Mount Dora, I was 20 miles from the Sanford station, but compared to the almost 40 miles I drove into Orlando daily on toll roads, it ended up being worth it, for both my wallet and my sanity. But also remember that a 30-day ticket means 30 calendar days, so do the math there too – I ended up saving money by just loading cash onto a prepaid SunRail card instead of buying the monthly pass.
2. Plan Ahead. During my commuting days, I carried a tote bag with the essentials: my dress shoes that I could put on once I got to work, an umbrella (during Florida summer? A must!), and a wrap (those trains could be COLD, so it was nice to have something to snuggle into). Bring a book, some games on your phone, or your headphones to listen to some music. SunRail offers free wi-fi, so bring a laptop and catch up on email or see what your friends are doing on Facebook. One of the best things about SunRail is not having to drive. Enjoy it.
— SunRailRiders (@Sunrailriders) March 20, 2015
3. Get on Social Media. Honestly, the best way to find out what’s going on with SunRail, to learn about outages, delays, or any other odd things going on, is to have a Twitter account. Follow the #SunRail hashtag; fellow passengers are very vocal if something is going on, because we all want to get the word out. And DEFINITELY follow @sunrailriders, he does a great job of keeping people informed. You’ll find out more information more quickly via Twitter than on the news, trust me – I scooped the local news and the Orlando Sentinel more than once!
4. Weekend Crowds Are Not Normal. I suffered through those first two weeks of SunRail commuting: late trains that were overstuffed with people when they finally arrived. It was pretty miserable, to be honest, but when the free weeks were over and it was just paying passengers, the congestion thinned out considerably. From what I understand, the crowds recently for the free rides to and from the Orlando City Soccer match or the Winter Park Arts Festival were about the same, so I don’t expect free days to be any different. So take this time to see if the stations are convenient for you, and enjoy your first taste of SunRail. But be prepared to be patient.
5. Don’t be a Jerk. This should be a no-brainer, right? Follow the rules, and be considerate. Don’t eat on the SunRail – no one wants to smell your Publix cheesesteak at the end of the day. (I remember sharing a table one night with Dorito-Fingers Guy. Yay.) Don’t put your bag in the seat next to you and your feet up on the seat in front of you. We’re all in this ride together. So unless you’re planning to split that cheesesteak with me, wait to eat until after you get off the train.
Happy birthday, SunRail! I’m looking forward to seeing it expand and serve more and more central Floridians as the years go by. Happy commuting!