Universal Orlando Resort to Epic Universe Transportation News & Speculation

Bobharlem

Member
Jan 31, 2013
595
I thought the Transportation discussion for how to get to Epic Universal from the Original resort deserved its own thread. Since it'll affect the main resort, Hotels, and the new area and things in between. There's also the discussion of bus lanes, or if there's any longer term non-bus transport being discussed or rumored. Also the airport rail connection (Brightline/Virgin Trains or something else) and in general all the I-Drive neighbors.

The big one is the Kirkman road extension Green light for Kirkman Road extension that promises to create jobs, new developments - Orlando Sentinel Which is going to have bus lanes and be less reliant on traffic lights. It's scheduled to start next year, but I've heard rumors it may start as early as mid to late September of this year.

The section between sand lake to Endless summer will probably modify carrier Dr, but I've seen no specific plans for that.

The current citywalk bus/taxi/dropoff is getting too small already with endless summer. Something is going on there on the exit road from the garages, but that whole area is probably going to have to get overhauled to handle the amount of new traffic from the hotels and the new park. Anyone have any idea what's going on there? It's already a madhouse on a good day, and I don't think it can handle all the new stuff in the current layout.

Could they redo valet? Make more space by reducing the size of that garage exit (it's pretty much only used for the upper level of the north garage--although there is a sneaky way to it on the 4th), so it seems really wide for that.

I wish they would reduce the lights around the old resort, in particular that left turn off of the Eastbound exit ramp with the light tends to back up, as well as exiting the south garage after any big event. Anything to get rid of those lights would help.

Non-bus transport doesn't look like it will happen initially, but could later on.

Also rumored is a new exit lane off the Universal Blvd 528 (Beach/bee line) to go straight into Epic Universe.

A shared rail stop at the convention center side (With moving walkways over to Epic) is a no-brainer if they do build one there. In any case how they handle transportation and parking at the new park will probably make or break the entire resort feel. Any other things being overlooked, or details we are missing?
 

Aardvark787

Newcomer
May 27, 2019
25
A shared rail stop at the convention center side (With moving walkways over to Epic) is a no-brainer if they do build one there. In any case how they handle transportation and parking at the new park will probably make or break the entire resort feel. Any other things being overlooked, or details we are missing?
A train to and from the Airport would be great and if it stopped near enough Epic Universe then Universal doesn't have to run any more buses. Like you say moving walkways would be great and then you could just get a bus from Epic to your hotel.
I think at Epic they are going to have to build a big Disney style Resort bus-only loop that is completely separate to the Drop off and Pick up spots and another loop for off-site hotels.
The current citywalk bus/taxi/dropoff is getting too small already with endless summer. Something is going on there on the exit road from the garages, but that whole area is probably going to have to get overhauled to handle the amount of new traffic from the hotels and the new park. Anyone have any idea what's going on there? It's already a madhouse on a good day, and I don't think it can handle all the new stuff in the current layout.
I don't know where it is going but I have a few ideas.
  1. The current area could be changed so it is just for Universal Orlando buses as the resort expands there is only going to be more of them.
  2. Could they in any way make a drop-off and pick up and off-site hotel bus area in a part of one of the garages. It could go on the bottom floor and it would likely not take up too much space. I have never parked in the garages (as have always stayed on-site and got Uber/Lyft from the airport) so I don't know how possible it is. Do the garages ever get full?
 
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Aardvark787

Newcomer
May 27, 2019
25
I know this has been largely denied but how awesome would a monorail system be?!
It would be cool but I just don't see it happening.
  1. Where would it go from and to, would it stop at all the hotels? It just seems a transportation nightmare.
  2. I don't see local business allowing the planning permission to pass. They will be angry enough that universal is running buses that don't stop but to put a big ugly monorail (At least that is how I think they will see it) would just be the last straw
  3. It is also not a very good return on investment. We can see this from WDW as the monorail has not been expanded for just shy of 40 years now and looking at the state of their monorail trains, I can't see Universal wanting that operational burden.
I don't think the buses are as bad some people make out, you are still going to be on them half the time you are on at Disney (AKL to MK for example). As long as they remain frequent like they are now, then I am perfectly happy with a bus system.
 

GAcoaster

V.I.P.
Nov 30, 2012
3,566
Orlando
I think the bus lanes down Kirkman will be host to a fleet of fully automated driverless buses. The three year timeframe will give enough time to get the technology perfected, and keeping them in their own lanes eliminates the biggest challenge to driverless vehicles, vehicle with drivers who do unpredictable things.

I'd love to see some other system added as well (a funicular/monorail), but the bus lanes should take care of things for the moment. Especially driverless buses since there is such a critical shortage of CDL possessing drivers and they are in such demand between Disney, Universal, and Mears.
 

Joe

aka TestTrack321
Staff member
Moderator
Feb 15, 2012
11,339
Pittsburgh, PA
I think the bus lanes down Kirkman will be host to a fleet of fully automated driverless buses. The three year timeframe will give enough time to get the technology perfected, and keeping them in their own lanes eliminates the biggest challenge to driverless vehicles, vehicle with drivers who do unpredictable things.

I'd love to see some other system added as well (a funicular/monorail), but the bus lanes should take care of things for the moment. Especially driverless buses since there is such a critical shortage of CDL possessing drivers and they are in such demand between Disney, Universal, and Mears.
I doubt it’s driverless, despite what many proclaim any actual tech is still very far off.
 

RFRees

Member
Dec 24, 2015
723
I doubt it’s driverless, despite what many proclaim any actual tech is still very far off.
As much as I'm looking forward to Driverless, I agree that any infrastructure built now is going to be with humans assumed to be the drivers. It's possible they easily retrofit current/near future infrastructure for Driverless tech when it does come.
 

RFRees

Member
Dec 24, 2015
723
Midway Mayhem seems to think building a river from site a to b would be easy.

Obviously this is just reaction video after the announcement so I'm sure their opinions have since changed.
 

OrlLover

Member
Aug 8, 2018
690
Midway Mayhem seems to think building a river from site a to b would be easy.

Obviously this is just reaction video after the announcement so I'm sure their opinions have since changed.
I watched that video kind of laughed out loud because what they were suggesting was just unrealistic.
 
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Aardvark787

Newcomer
May 27, 2019
25
Midway Mayhem seems to think building a river from site a to b would be easy.

Obviously this is just reaction video after the announcement so I'm sure their opinions have since changed.
I believe he thought that the FB show building was a river so I think he was mistaken in what he was seeing. After having a look at Google Earth I just don't think there is space without having to nock some buildings down - it's also not financially viable.
Would it be possible to add cable cars just like Disney are doing?
I don't think so - that system is also rather temperamental as it can not run near lightning so it is unlikely that Universal would chouse this as there main mode of transit. There is the same argument I made for the monorail as well, how would it work, would it stop at all the hotels or would you have to bus to Citywalk and then change. If that is the case I think that most guest would just prefer a bus, especially as with the bus lanes, they will not have to sit in traffic.
 
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Mad Dog

Premium Member
Jan 30, 2013
17,329
Pittsburgh area
I think the bus lanes down Kirkman will be host to a fleet of fully automated driverless buses. The three year timeframe will give enough time to get the technology perfected, and keeping them in their own lanes eliminates the biggest challenge to driverless vehicles, vehicle with drivers who do unpredictable things.

I'd love to see some other system added as well (a funicular/monorail), but the bus lanes should take care of things for the moment. Especially driverless buses since there is such a critical shortage of CDL possessing drivers and they are in such demand between Disney, Universal, and Mears.
Our area is home to the Ford and Uber driverless tech centers and driving courses. Last week Ford released a local report that the tech is developing way slower than they ever expected and the driverless implementations are now in the far future rather than the near future.
 

RFRees

Member
Dec 24, 2015
723
Our area is home to the Ford and Uber driverless tech centers and driving courses. Last week Ford released a local report that the tech is developing way slower than they ever expected and the driverless implementations are now in the far future rather than the near future.
Cell phones came out in the 80s but due to issues (size/cost/etc) they don't really catch on until the tech caught up twenty years later. I think it'll be the same... It's inevitable, but just going to take a couple of decades.
 
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RFRees

Member
Dec 24, 2015
723
I just know that last year at IAPPA there was a driverless shuttle being shown from Oceaneering. I could picture bunches of these running back and forth down special lanes:

It's neat! Wonder what the cost is compared to a CDL B driver.

I'd think the VB route is a no brainier for Driverless, at least to prototype.
 
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RFRees

Member
Dec 24, 2015
723
Orlando's Lake Nona community is launching driverless shuttles this year. The legal hurdles have been passed, and the shuttles are sitting there now:
Pictures: Police, rescuers get up-close look at Lake Nona’s driverless bus - Orlando Sentinel

Note the speeds are slow, like 25 mph max, so I'm not sure if they will work for Universal.
Due to the slow speeds...
This could work for back of house routes (for team members) or garage to VB route.
Could also work for the assumed trams in site b parking lot.
 

MurphyJoe

Newcomer
Feb 28, 2010
24
Orlando's Lake Nona community is launching driverless shuttles this year. The legal hurdles have been passed, and the shuttles are sitting there now:
Pictures: Police, rescuers get up-close look at Lake Nona’s driverless bus - Orlando Sentinel

Note the speeds are slow, like 25 mph max, so I'm not sure if they will work for Universal.
With the current roads between Universal Orlando and the OCCC a one way journey would take about 11 minutes at 25 MPH. I would assume the top speed could be increased with a dedicated roadway versus operating on public roads. Looking at various Disney fansites concerning transit times, there's still the old recommendation of budgeting 40-60 minutes to transit from point A to B. So at least from a speed perspective the 25 MPH doesn't seem restrictive compared to their competition. I am curious though how this automated system compares to traditional buses from a cost perspective since each vehicle won't carry as many riders and doesn't have the same production numbers as a traditional bus plus the self driving technology. So while Universal would save money on not needing drivers, would the loss of drivers make up for the vehicles' purchase and maintenance costs being a specialty item?

Edit: (Different product from Lake Nona's) Oceaneering's REVO-GT spec sheet: https://www.oceaneering.com/datasheets/OES-REVO-GT.pdf Can't speak about costs, but on their product the maximum cruising speed is just over 37 MPH with typical capacity per lane at "4,608 passengers per hour per direction."
 
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maxairmike

Veteran Member
Jul 18, 2012
1,366
In the thick of it
Has anyone who has driven Sand Lake between Universal Blvd. and John Young lately noticed if they're starting to rip up the bridge work that should be nearly complete? The plans for the Kirkman extension show the configuration completely different than what was close to finished for the simple expansion/redo scheduled to finish next year. The ramps/bridges are completely different, as you can see in the link below, and I don't believe they were bringing the directional lanes together in the current work.

http://www.cflroads.com/asset/file/3955/2018-11-08_and_2018-12-18_Public_Meeting_Display_Board_pdf

This makes me wonder just how quickly this will get finished, with the pre-existing widening project being about 5 months from completion.
 
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