• Community leaders get sneak peek at future SunRail commute


    VOLUSIA COUNTY, Fla. - Passengers will not be able to take the first phase of the new SunRail commuter train until next May, but a select few got to experience what part of the commute will be like.

    On Friday, community business leaders and politicians got a chance to ride on an Amtrak train to see the commute from a different vantage point.

    It was not one of the actual commuter trains, but it did provide a sneak peak.

    More than 300 local business leaders got a sneak peak of Central Florida's latest attraction, SunRail, something that longtime downtown Orlando lawyer Charlie Gray said will make his commute from Debary a lot more pleasant.

    "If you get on I-4 at Debary, you know what, the attraction is traffic is horrible," said Gray.

    Friday's show and tell was all about getting local business leaders on board with what the train ride will be like, and how it can benefit their business, their customers and their life.

    SunRail will be on line May 1, 2014. Until then, there is still some tweaking to do with the tracks, the stations, and encouraging new businesses to open along the route that will, at first, stretch from Debary to Poinciana.

    "You also want development around these new stations and access that they will use the system," said U.S. Rep. John Mica.

    There are still a lot of questions, first and foremost is who will ride the rails?

    The Department of Transportation is aware of those concerns, and that is why it set up the ride for these movers and shakers.

    Gray said, he's sold, "I will be able to get on this train and do my emails, read the paper and not worry about somebody running over me."

    As for the cost, a base fare within a single county is expected to be $2 with an additional $1 fee for travel across each county line. There are discounts for seniors, students and frequent riders.

    The first phase of SunRail will open in the spring and will travel from DeBary to Sand Lake Road in Orlando.

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