Have you tried the train?
Later this year, SunRail will mark its second anniversary of operating at three stations in Osceola County. The success of those stations is remarkable.
SunRail is the region’s first-ever commuter rail system and first large-scale mass transit project that began service in 2014. In the summer of 2018, the second phase of the system launched, expanding service into southern Orange and Osceola counties.
That so-called Southern Expansion is exceeding expectations and connecting Osceola residents with new opportunities. Ridership has increased more than 78 percent since expansion and on some days, total system ridership numbers are double those of when only the first phase was in operation.
SunRail’s Transit-Oriented Development (TOD) impact - the number of new and planned businesses around the stations - is estimated at $3 billion. Property values have increased around the original stations, and research has shown the increase in property values has generated nearly $20 million of property tax revenue.
In January, the County Commission approved the purchase of 82 acres of land adjacent to the Poinciana SunRail station. The county wants to control the type of development that happens on the property. Previous owners envisioned mostly single-family homes on the property.
Because it is in walking distance of SunRail, the property is attractive for affordable housing - as well as TOD and the mixed-use development it encourages that is critical to the long-term financial success of SunRail. Osceola County will develop a master plan for the property, followed by a competitive procurement process to find developers to execute the plan and create needed new housing opportunities.
Be smart, be safe. While it didn’t involve SunRail, there was a car versus train accident in Kissimmee in February. It’s a good moment to think about practicing reasonable driving and pedestrian habits around the tracks. When warning signals start to flash at road crossings and the gates come down, please make sure that your vehicle is clear of the intersection and behind the white line.
As always, please feel free to share any of your concerns, ideas or information by calling my office at 407-742-2000 or by email to Brandon.Arrington@osceola.org.
Thank you for your time.
Brandon Arrington is the Osceola County commissioner for district 3.