Have you solved Central Florida’s commute problem?

Orlando, Florida. – Nearly ten years after its launch, thousands of Central Floridians are turning to commuter rail to avoid congested highways.

Jahimael Hance is one of them.

You responded to a Solutionaries survey posted on, where we asked, “What are your feelings about SunRail solving Central Florida’s traffic problems?”

“I do this every day, Monday through Friday, morning and afternoon,” he said as he walked onto the platform at the Kissimmee SunRail station.

Jahimael Hance sits aboard SunRail traveling from Kissimmee to Winter Park, Florida. (Copyright 2023 by WKMG ClickOrlando – All Rights Reserved).

Hance uses the railroad to travel the 41 miles from his home in St. Cloud, Florida, to his school in the town of Maitland.

“It was my first decision,” he said. “How am I going to get there if I don’t have a car and it’s a very far route?”

Hance boards the train at 6:50 a.m. and gets off at 7:45 a.m., where he boards a bus that will take him the rest of the way to school.

There are 30 commuter rail systems in the United States, and in 2022, 266 million passengers used the service.

SunRail travels 49 miles on a north-south route through Central Florida with 16 stations along the way.

According to the latest figures, an average of 4,000 people use the train every day, which removes 3,200 vehicles from the tracks.

However, SunRail is not solving everyone’s transportation problems.

Other respondents to the Solutionaries survey said SunRail needs to go more places.

“Without a stretch connecting to the airport (80 million visitors) and Brightline (Miami), we are building a bigger car, but we forgot to put the tires on it,” Jeff wrote.

“An East/West line is needed,” Robert wrote. “Maybe from UCF to downtown, and then beyond Winter Garden. It also needs extended opening hours and weekend service.”

Lisa said that people need help getting on and off the train.

“The last mile,” he wrote. “We have not helped people get on and off the train. Our communities with SunRail stops need to widen the sidewalks and convert them into multi-use paths so people are more comfortable using bikes to and from the train.”

However, for some riders that is not a problem.

SunRail has resulted in the appearance of small communities along the tracks near some stations.

“For me, if I lived here and worked downtown, I would probably live here and work downtown,” Tom Kreuger said. “I don’t know if I want to stay downtown.”

Kreuger is the director of economic development for the city of Longwood.

He said that since SunRail entered the city, more than 2,000 apartments, 150 townhouses and more than 200 single-family homes have been built in this small community that spans 5.6 square miles.

He said population growth has also boosted the city’s median income, more than his previous economic projections.

“You are going to see restaurants, you are going to see availability, to be able to have some options of where to eat. We are excited about it, and it really started with the installation (of the train station),” she said.

Cindi Lane, a spokeswoman for the Florida Department of Transportation, which currently operates SunRail, said it’s called Transit Oriented Development.

“In downtown Orlando, we are seeing a lot of excitement about a new project coming up called The Edge. It’s right at the Church Street station,” he said. “There will be 32 floors of offices, residential and a hotel. It’s right there at the station, so it’s going to be very exciting.”

She said more development is in the works on the north side of the road.

“In DeBary, a recent project called Main Street has been announced. It’s going to be on 19 1/2 acres right next to the station, and it’s also going to be a huge complex with about 80 residential units, including apartments and townhomes,” Lane said. “On top of that, there will be some retail and some office space.”

Lane said SunRail ridership is making a comeback after the pandemic kept many of its riders at home.

He is still struggling to get back to the daily average of 7,000 riders in 2020.

In May, community leaders gathered in DeLand to open the new SunRail train station.

“This new station will bring even more economic opportunity to downtown DeLand and the surrounding communities,” said SunRail CEO John Tyler.

There are also plans to expand SunRail east over the next few years, answering calls to get people to Orlando International Airport.

The Corredor del Sol proposal (Copyright 2023 by WKMG ClickOrlando – All Rights Reserved).

Some plans have the possibility of SunRail joining another rail system to bring people to Tampa.

The project is called The Sunshine Corridor.

SunRail is currently in the midst of a transition process, which is designed to transfer control of the rail from the Florida Department of Transportation to a coalition group made up of local counties and the City of Orlando.

Many said they are hopeful that involving local governments more in the rail system will result in more choice and more opportunities for commuters who want a solution to traffic congestion.

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Copyright 2023 by WKMG ClickOrlando – All Rights Reserved.