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But Friday morning you dropped the ball -- big time.
Certainly it's tragic that a man was hit and killed by a SunRail train late Thursday, but that grim reality comes with the territory when you run a railroad. That's why it's critical for SunRail to have an effective service-interruption plan. If SunRail has such a plan, it didn't work Friday morning.
Alerted to the SunRail service interruption by one of our Twitter followers in Sanford, we rushed to the Sand Lake Road station shortly after 6 a.m. Friday. Information at the station was limited and confusing.
People getting off Lynx buses at the station started walking toward the train platform while bystanders were yelling that all the trains had been canceled. Lynx bus drivers didn't even that the trains weren't running until they heard the announcement at the SunRail station.
Periodically recordings played on the station PA system telling riders that all SunRail service had been canceled for the morning "sorry for the inconvenience." There were no SunRail representatives at the station because, you may remember, Sunrail laid off the station Ambassadors a few weeks back. many SunRail riders, and even some SunRail conductors, said getting rid of the ambassadors was a big mistake. Friday morning they were proven right.
Lynx, the regional public bus system, was the hero of the day. Shortly before 7 a.m., a Lynx supervisor arrived at the Sand Lake station and brought a convoy of buses with him to start shuttling stranded SunRail riders to their destinations.
But of course there was still no SunRail rep on scene. Then there were confusing recorded announcements saying there would be no SunRail trains running other than P308". What does that mean?
Then the announcer said said there was a train coming from Lake Mary -- but no estimated time of arrival. people are trying to get to work. They need to know.
The good news is that the first SunRail train arrived at Sand Lake Road at about 7:30 a.m.
Now some will say: What could SunRail have done?
For one thing, passengers needed real-time information, not pre-recorded train-talk. More than anything else, riders at every station deserved to have a real live SunRail rep on scene. Please bring back the Ambassadors.
Second, why does SunRail put all its eggs in one basket and store all the trains overnight in Sanford? That sets the stage for a disaster, because if something goes wrong in and around Sanford, the entire operation is strangled. Makes us think about what happened at the eve of World War II, the commanders at Pearl Harbor thought it was a splendid idea to group all the military planes together to make them easier to guard. Turns out that made it easier for the Japanese attackers to destroy the planes on the ground.
If SunRail stored a couple of trains overnight in the Taft rail yards south of Sand Lake Road, it could have been serving stations south of the blocked tracks in Sanford.
SunRail is not the Hogwarts Express theme park ride. People depend on Sunrail to get to work. "We apologize for the convenience," just doesn't cut it
(Blank) happens, everybody knows that, but we're counting on SunRail to be ready for it.