Yesterday afternoon, in front of a large crowd, the city of Longwood’s elected officials cut the ribbon, opening it’s Sunrail station that will start transporting riders in just a couple of weeks. Visitors had the opportunity to tour the rail cars after the ceremony was over.
I was one of those visitors. Here is what I thought.
The Cars themselves are beautiful. They obviously have no wear and tear and are very clean. They’re two stories and have different kinds of seats from your traditional two facing two configurations, as well as 4 person table spaces which would be ideal for work. There is a lot of wide open space. It’s hard to believe that it would resemble those cramped subways, we’re used to in places like Chicago and New York.
The station itself was nice enough. People that had been to other Sunrail openings said it was one of the nicer facilities. I didn’t think there was enough parking within a comfortable walking distance away but was told there was more out of sight. There were wide benches. I’ve sat through development meetings, where those are actually a negative. The large benches, unfortunately are the best sleeping options our homeless population have. While I don’t believe there is a homelessness problem in Longwood, like there is downtown they should bought shorter seats in larger quantity. There were large residential developments under construction next to the station. This is huge plus. You walk out your door and you’ve got commuter rail? Sounds good to me. A perfect example of growth around the project.
Here are some important notes.
You CAN bring your Bikes with you on Sunrail: There are tie-downs on some of the cars for them. This is a big deal. One of the problems potential travelers face with Sunrail, is transport to and from the actual stations. This is part of the solution for that problem.
You CANNOT Eat on Sunrail: This is kind of a drag but you can see why. We’d all like to grab a quick bite on the way into work, but there are a lot of lazy people out there. I can see Burger King wrappers on the floor and Ketchup stains ruining business clothes. You can bring drinks with a lid on the train.
You CAN bring your pets on Sunrail: If they’re in a crate. It would be cool if they could stay on a leash but owners can be irresponsible. We don’t want Spike the Doberman dropping a deuce in the middle of a crowded car of commuters for the staff to pick-up. Nor do we want two animals deciding that they don’t like the way the other smells, and breaking out into a canine melee while we’re on the way to our destination. Service Animals are exempt from crates.
There IS Wi-Fi on Sunrail: This has been one of the rail system’s biggest selling points. Staying productive while you travel.
You CANNOT use Cash on the ticket machines: I spoke to some buddies on why this was. There were theories that they didn’t want customers vulnerable to being robbed by criminals, or asked for money by the homeless. There were also some that believed that robbers would bust open the machines and steal any cash inside.
So what do you think, Frank?: The product is good.
It’s far from perfect but it’s better than what I thought was coming. It’s a knock-off of the rail cars used in Europe except not quite as nice. Those seats were much comfier albeit, those trips are typically much longer. I think the real challenge will be maintenance and cleanliness of the cars, and the experience of traveling itself.
I’m not going to abandon my car to use it, but it’s definitely worth a try.