SunRail sees huge turnout for free Saturday. Could weekend service return?

ORLANDO, Fla. — A special free weekend service sent Central Floridians rushing to the platform.


The Florida Department of Transportation said 11,000 riders hopped on SunRail from 2 p.m. to midnight on Saturday, well above the 4,000 weekday average.

Many people were denied boarding because the trains were full.

The demand is renewing calls for regular weekend service.

READ: SunRail gave free rides Saturday, including in downtown Orlando; how did it go?

However, the numbers still work against that wish.

It cost the Community Redevelopment Agency more than $32,000 to sponsor SunRail’s operation on Saturday.

An experiment back in 2016 saw Saturday ridership between 2,000 and 3,500 people each weekend.

READ: Florida’s 2023 legislative session: Lawmakers plan to tackle these 9 key issues

Those fares are nowhere near the amount the service needs to be economically viable. Its average weekday service collects less than $9,000 in fares daily.

Leaders said they don’t yet know how many riders it would take to make weekend service viable, but said they’ll have little choice once the tracks go to the round-the-clock airport.

SunRail said in a statement that expanding service is among “important pieces to growing this important transit system for the Central Florida community.”

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Adam Poulisse, WFTV.com

Adam Poulisse joined WFTV in November 2019.