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Lake Mary could add van pool to coax riders to SunRail

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LAKE MARY, Fla. - Channel 9 has learned that one city along the SunRail route is considering spending thousands of dollars to help the new commuter train succeed.
 
The SunRail service is scheduled to begin operations May 1.          
 
Officials hope to attract thousands of potential riders through their employers.
 
A major push from SunRail officials as they get ready to launch the service has been an effort to get riders from the train stations to their workplaces.
 
In Lake Mary that could mean having vans for major employers staged at the SunRail stop to take people who work near Interstate 4 to their places of employment.
 
As crews are putting the finishing touches on the Lake Mary SunRail station, city leaders could make a last-minute push to convince commuters to grab a train ride rather than battle traffic on I-4.
 
"Commuter rail is really all about connecting commuters to where they work and in the city of Lake Mary's case, we do know that our biggest employment base is around Interstate 4," said Lake Mary Economic Development Manager Tom Tomerlin. 
 
To close the gap between the train station and businesses, the city could partner with employers to rent Lynx vans to take riders the last 2 miles between the station and the Interstate.
 
Officials believe that could mean thousands of extra passengers on the train.
 
Lake Mary is the first city along the SunRail route to consider linking up with Lynx for the vanpool program.
 
City officials said the cost to lease a van from Lynx is $690 per month and the city could fund up to half of that for up to 12 vans.
 
It is an investment that city leaders believe will pay off as more commuters travel through town, rather than along the interstate.
 
"The more active we see that SunRail commuter stop, the better it's going to be for the entire community, including downtown, which is centered around that SunRail stop," said Tomerlin.
 
Commissioners could decide on how much funding they'd like to give the program at an April 3 meeting.