SunRail passenger cars delivered to Seminole County

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SEMINOLE COUNTY, Fla. - WFTV got an inside look at the first SunRail passenger car to arrive in central Florida Monday.

SunRail is expected to start carrying passengers along the Interstate 4 corridor next May.

"It shows that SunRail is here and it's a reality, and we're looking for more equipment to be coming and be delivered as the months go by," said Steve Olson, of the Florida Department of Transportation.

One of the bilevel passenger cars can seat about 130 people, but about 200 more can stand.

There are onboard restrooms and tables with electric plugins for people who want to work on their way to their jobs.

The cars have space for wheelchairs and bicycles.

The FDOT said it wants to make the cars as convenient as possible to encourage more ridership.

Thirteen of the cars have been ordered.

The safety manager for the company that designed the cab, Dennis Bonney, said it's been very successful elsewhere.

"It's a vehicle that's been around a number of years that's been refined by ourselves, as well as our customers, to be comfortable," said Bonney. "It's an efficient ride for the typical commuter passenger."

Each SunRail train will have a car, a coach, which can hold even more people, and a locomotive.

The trains won't be lengthy, so traffic won't have to wait long as a SunRail train passes by.

"So basically the gates will go down, the vehicle will go through, the gates go up. It will be like waiting at a very short stoplight," said Olson.

According to FDOT officials, Amtrak, SunRail and freight trains will be controlled from one location. They said the freight trains will be limited to running during the overnight hours.

While SunRail will have the ability to carry a large number of travelers, some officials from cities along the train's path worry that extra traffic through town won't matter if people don't get off the train.

"All of our activity centers, our business centers, our corporate employers are off the SunRail line," said Altamonte Springs City Manager Frank Martz.  

Martz said he has been working with Longwood, Casselberry, and Maitland to bring in an on-demand bus system that would take SunRail passengers from train stations to popular destinations in each town.

The public transportation group Lynx was supposed to start looking for a private company to run the service in January but just began the process last week.

"It's now August, so we're now seven or eight months later than we expected," said Martz.  

In Altamonte Springs the SunRail station sits at a busy intersection at the corner of 436 and Ronald Reagan Boulevard.

But Florida Hospital Altamonte is almost a mile away from the station and the popular Cranes Roost area is almost two mile away.

"Without a connector there's no way to get to and from it," said Martz.

Martz said having a bus system in place by the time SunRail starts service is going to be a challenge.

"I don't think it's realistic, but I hope it's doable," said Martz.