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Florida toward a future of multimodal transportation, where passengers hop between trains, buses and other options to get where they’re going.

between Volusia and Osceola counties, but it operates only during daytime hours for commuters and on weekends and nights for special events, such as Orlando Magic games at the Amway Center.

“The pieces are started, but we don’t know what type of technology is going to come in the future, especially in the autonomous vehicle area,” said Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer. “A lot of the technology we have today we couldn’t imagine 10 or 15 years ago.”

The biggest challenge has been how to connect SunRail with Orlando International Airport. The Virgin Trains project is expected to provide that link. It will cross the SunRail line around the Meadow Wood station south of downtown Orlando, where riders can jump off one train and board another.

The region is modernizing its tried-and-true transportation channels with a $2.3 billion expansion project along a 21-mile stretch of Interstate 4 and a 20-mile companion project. Expected to be completed in 2021, the improvements will bring some relief to Central Florida’s already crowded roads — but not enough.

“That’s a critical piece for us,” Dyer said. “It changes the whole equation of SunRail when you take it to the airport because you then go seven days a week and have more frequent trains.”

By Rail

At Orlando International, the Virgin Trains connection will create the nation’s first in-terminal long-distance rail connection at an airport, according to an article in FlightGlobal. The airport has already built an intermodal station that is expected to connect with a new Terminal C that will add 19 airline gates when it opens in 2020.

When SunRail commuter train service started in May 2014, local leaders knew it was just the first step in getting people to embrace a sophisticated multimodal public transportation system in Central Florida. SunRail stops at 16 stations along a north-south route

The rail line from Miami to West Palm Beach will make its way up the coast through Cocoa before heading west and possibly even all the way to Tampa. Virgin Trains is exploring how to connect riders with the theme parks and other tourist destinations. F

“We’re looking at all modes of transportation,” Dyer said, “moving away from one driver in one car on I-4.” | MAY 2019 | 19

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