ORLANDO, Fla. (WOFL FOX 35 ORLANDO) -
SunRail riders may be in for a shock once free service ends next week and pay service begins, in the form of a "ticket tax" that had not been mentioned by the Florida Department of Transportation in the past.
The FDOT said from the beginning that there would be a charge for the SunCards that will be used on the system. However, a new problem came to light when tickets went on sale this week, and riders began to learn there would be a 50 cent surcharge for one-way fares and 25 cent charge for a round trip paper ticket.
FDOT spokesman Steve Olson says it is costly for the agency to provide SunRail tickets. SunCards cost five dollars.
"There's a certain amount of cost associated with this, you know producing the plastic card, looks like a credit card type of card, or a paper ticket."
With less than a week before ticketed service begins, there has been no mention of this surcharge on the SunRail website, and there is no notification of the charge at the ticket kiosks, until it displays on the screen as you make your purchase. Olson says this mistake will be corrected.
"We probably should have that disclosed a lot better, so it's not, you know, when people come here to the platform to buy a one way ticket, it's not a surprise."
Overall, the ticketing system for SunRail continues to be plagued with problems, but Olson is confident the system will be on line and ready for Monday May 19, when free service is supposed to end.
"We're pretty confident. I mean, it's bit by bit. We threw the lever and the switch on everything Monday, and then we discovered some issues moving along."
The key issue that remains according to Olson is the kiosks are not able to accept debit cards.
"There's some talking with our provider and the machines here and other people's debit cards, and we've got to get the devices all talking together, and that's not quite there yet."
People can now buy the SunCards from the website. We watched as Anthony Quinones tried to buy a monthly pass from the kiosk at Church Street Station and was unsuccessful. He told us he tried both a debit and a credit card.
"I swiped my card. I chose what I wanted, a monthly. I got the monthly, and it said declined and then but it sounded like something dropped out from the bottom, and I went to check and there was nothing there. So I did it twice, so now I've got to see if my bank to see if I can get refunded to see if I got charged for the ticket or not."
One way and round trip tickets will not be on sale for the rest of the week while the service is still free. If the system is not working properly by Monday the 19, SunRail and the FDOT will likely to have to continue to provide free service until the ticketing system works.