Aug 18

Love Train: SunRail opens up romantic possibilities

Steven Gross and Sydney Solis first met through an online dating site, but the SunRail put their romance on track.

Neither likes to drive, especially on congested Interstate 4, which the SunRail was built to alleviate. It began service in May 2014.

Turns out the commuter line has opened up much more than traffic lanes, as Cupid's arrow has found both Gross, who lives in downtown Orlando, and Solis, who lives in DeLand.

"The trains connect us,” said Gross, an architect and attractions designer for Universal Creative. “I really was not interested in driving for romance but Sydney changed all that and SunRail makes it all fun.”

Before meeting Gross this summer and making use of the SunRail,  Solis recalled that she had limited her dating range at Match.com to a five-mile radius of DeLand.

"I thought there was no way I was going to drive a lot to date," Solis said.
A transplant from Colorado, Solis had never visited downtown Orlando because she did not want to drive I-4.

“I had no idea it was so nice and walkable,” said Solis, a yoga teacher and writer.

They both feel lucky to find someone who shares the same politics and values, especially a low-consumption lifestyle. The couple likes to explore vegetarian/vegan restaurants, thrift stores and antique shops.

Solis said she has been waiting for Gross “my whole life.”

If Solis is going to Orlando, she meets him at the Church Street Station. To get to the DeBary station from her home in DeLand, she often takes the bus.

Because the SunRail does not run on Saturdays and Sundays, they typically begin their weekend by taking a Friday afternoon train.

To return home from a weekend together, they will take the Amtrak train or if they must, they will give each other a ride home. Incidentally, the Amtrak station in DeLand is planned to be the next stop to the south for SunRail by 2017.

Adding Saturday-Sunday service is under study at the request of regional county governments, but how to pay for the estimated multimillion-dollar costs is unresolved, according to Steve Olson, a public information officer for the Florida Department of Transportation.

Gross and Solis dream of eventually taking the SunRail to the beach.

They like making the most of SunRail. When the weather gets cooler, they plan to take their bicycles on the train.

The SunRail might as well be the love train.

 “SunRail is certainly expanding romantic possibilities,” Gross said. 

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By Jim Haug, The Daytona Beach News-Journal 
5:30 AM EDT, August 18, 2015