ORLANDO – Standing on Magnolia Avenue in the heart of downtown Orlando, Mayor Buddy Dyer noted that the clock was ticking for something that a lot of area residents have been waiting quite some time for: the chance to ride the SunRail light rail line.
”In a little less than two years, we’ll be able to get on a SunRail train and take the train to Winter Park or Altamonte Springs or some other destinations,’’ Dyer said.
In the meantime, as construction commences on the 61-mile route, Dyer was in downtown on Monday to cut the ribbon on the new SunRail City Center, an office at 201 N. Magnolia Ave., in Suite 101, that will serve as an education center for residents looking to learn more about this commuter rail line – when it will start operating, how much it will cost to ride, and where it goes. The mayor’s office is calling it a ”one stop shop for citizens and stakeholders seeking information about the SunRail project.’’
Although it started to rain just at the start of thhe press conference, the mayor said not even the weather could dampen the excitement surrounding this new center.
”This is just the beginning, and this city center is so important to educate people about SunRail,’’ Dyer said.
The SunRail commuter rail line will start in Debary and then run into downtown Orlando, before continuing on into Osceola County and ending at Poinciana. There will be 18 stops altogether on a route that will cross Volusia, Seminole, Orange and Osceola counties.
One of the challenges for county leaders in all four counties will be covering the train’s operating and maintenance costs after the first seven years, so the political leaders who supported SunRail are now doing all they can to ensure that people ride it. In Orlando, city leaders like Dyer have encouraged local businesses to offer incentives for employees who take SunRail to work.
Opening a center where area residents can learn more about SunRail, well before the train starts running, is a part of that mission.
Standing before a crowd that included municipal leaders from across the region, representing communities that will host a future SunRail station, Dyer announced that the SunRail City Center was about to open in the office right behind him.
”It’s a great day for SunRail as we pass another milestone, the SunRail City Center,’’ Dyer said.
SunRail is using the center to get out information about the rail line – including the fact that tax incentives will be available to workers who ride it.
Employees can qualify for up to $125 a month, tax free, in the cost of riding the light rail, and can pay up to $240 a month, also tax free, for using parking at a SunRail station.
The SunRail City Center, Dyer noted, is all about letting residents understand the rail line’s benefits well in advance of the trains starting to run.
And, as the mayor cut the ribbon in front of the building and then lead the crowd inside, he added a message intended for both the people attending the press conference — and the entire city: ”Come on in, everybody.’’
To learn more about the SunRail City Center, call 407-487-4035.