Florida Kills Orlando-Tampa HSR: So Give It to the Northeast


Republicans nationwide have pledged to cut back on government spending. In the cases of Ohio and Wisconsin, that meant killing mostly Federal funded high speed rail projects. Now Florida joins them in un-funding the future.

The Infrastruturist breaks down why this was a bullshit move motivated by politics rather than fiscal sensibility. Instead of taking the $2.4 billion and building a high speed rail line between a very congested corridor, Republican Governor Rick Scott wants to build more highways. Scott was afraid because his state would have been on the hook for all of $280 million and any cost overruns in both building and operating the line would be taken care of for the first 20 years. Umm, who exactly was getting screwed here? Florida taxpayers, or the rest of us? I’m gonna say the rest of us.

So thank you Rick Scott and the rest of the Republican governors who are marching in lockstep against all things high speed rail. I said from the beginning that the money was too far spread out among too many different projects. Sure, the amazing Obama-riffic high speed rail network is rapidly shrinking, but if politicians and the people they supposedly represent don’t want the trains, and won’t use them…pardon my French, but fuck ‘em.

Give the money to states and people who will and do use trains. In fact, that’s what Obama has already done with Wisconsin and Ohio’s share of the HSR funds, sending them out to California. The Florida rebuff brings the total rejected funds to $5 billion, which sounds like a lot, but California is still a long way away from breaking ground on the first portion of the project. And the vanguard line between Borden and Bakersfield won’t get a working train until other sections of track are built. That sucks.

So if by some off chance you are reading this, Mr. President, the Northeast Corridor could really use some help. Right now it is slow, prone to delays, and woefully out of date. When I get onto a train going into New York City I feel like I’m stepping back into the 70’s (the bad 70’s, Taxi Driver rather than Dazed and Confused). In other words, it doesn’t feel first world.

Besides the crappy, slow trains though the Northeast has a lot going for it in terms of right-of-way and already built lines. The Northeast already has a high speed train (the Acela) that should be able to go even faster with a little (actually a lot) of work. It’s the busiest train corridor in the country, with 12 million riders a year and a high population density, yet it has barely gotten any money in the grand scheme of things. People here know how to ride a train. Plus, you can pay back residents of at least a half-dozen states (MA, RI, CT, NY, PA, NJ) that helped vote you into office and can tell their friends “I told you so.” For the record, I didn’t vote in the last election, and I’m still looking for reasons to do so in the next. The Republicans have a point; the government is in debt, and it spends a lot of money rather frivolously. I don’t think high speed rail is frivolous, but Florida does, so here’s your chance to convince me you’ll make my America better.

I just got my tax bill the other day, and it’s a whooper. Nobody said being a writer was easy. I’m hoping a few of my many hard earned dollars will go towards something noble and worthwhile, like high speed rail, rather than a golden toilet seat or a few retirees who won’t even be around long enough to see it finished (too harsh?)

Source: The Infrastructurist

Chris DeMorro is a writer and gearhead who loves all things automotive, from hybrids to HEMI’s. You can follow his slow descent into madness at Sublime Burnout.

About the Author

A writer and gearhead who loves all things automotive, from hybrids to HEMIs, can be found wrenching or writing- or else, he’s running, because he’s one of those crazy people who gets enjoyment from running insane distances.

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  • Great how wonderful. Now we can have (enter the number of lanes here) jam packed with cars going from one large city to another large city, what a wonderful idea lets build more highways.
    Correct me if I am wrong, this is a post about gas 2.0 right? Just how much gas/fuel will the cars use over the trains use?
    Any idea about running the other leg of the high speed train in Florida up the east cost from Miami to Jacksonville? So that we might one day have a high speed rail from the great North East to Florida.
    Just estimate how much gas that would save, not having to be bought and used for planes and cars. But then we don’t need to save the american public money long term, that long term idea is for suckers.

    • Ziv

      Before we start building high speed rail capable of 168 mph spending billions, how about we get positive train control systems in place early. This relatively inexpensive step woul increase speeds that have been artificially limited to 79 mph up to 115 mph in one easy, relatively inexpensive step.
      When Amtrak can do 115 mph over most of its trackage, rail will surge in popularity and true High Speed Rail will be a lot more reasonable to voters who look at how lame, slow, frequently late, rail travel is right now and think that high speed rail is just an expensive boondoggle.

  • It is downright irresponsible to be spending money on trains in a time of extreme deficit spending. Florida should be applauded.

    There will be nothing running anywhere if the Federal Government can’t be reined in.

    In Utah we recently got a commuter train forced on us and it has some of the highest fares in the nation. Result? People don’t ride it.

    • This has to be one of the most short-sighted responses to this news possible. Currently, this country’s state government spends BILLIONS supporting roads and infrastructure that exists solely to support automobiles – reducing the use of these roads and the number of cars on the streets in general will easily net a future gain, since it’s much easier to support maintain 1 or 2 rail lines that it is to support alligator alley, the BeeLine, 60, I95, the FL turnpike, I10, etc., etc., etc.

      This is like arguing that you want to save money by not insulating your home – in the long run, those pennies saved will prove you pound foolish.

      • Only if people will use the train. Otherwise it is a big waste of money running empty trains.

        • Aj

          This is a chicken-egg situation people will only ride trains if they are faster than cars. The argument that larger fare is an impediment is foolish the cost to operate/maintain trains is far less than roads so the fares are bound to drop in the longer run as states save on there expenses on building additional roads/lanes. Florida oldies have once again hijacked a more-efficient-future of its younger generation.

          • Actually, no. People will only ride trains IF they happen to be going between Tampa and Orlando for some reason. The rest of the time, the train will be this big, empty bus that nobody uses, and nobody wants. It’s like running hundreds of EMPTY SEMI TRUCKS on an open high way at full speed multiple times a day JUST BECAUSE. It’s not the future, it’s the past, and I’m ecstatic that they’ve canned it.

  • Once again Florida is an embarrassment 🙁 Ughhh!!!!

  • as a Floridan and a resident of central florida, i am completely against not having a rail system. our awful newly elected governor stated he was going to use the money the state would have to put up~ $2billion to widen i-4 in orange county (orlando area), i-4 is already between 8-10lanes through orange county and still is slightly faster than a crawl during rush hour. how many more lanes can you possibly add to the road. Before the idiot gave the money back he should have tried to drive between tampa and orlando- or even across orlando- during rush hour and then see if we needed an alternative mode of transportation .

    future plans consisted of high speed rails connecting all the major cities in florida, with orlando (next to the Orlando international airpot) being the major hub. you would have been able to go from miami to jacksonville to orlando to tampa at 100+mph.

    we can only hope rick scott makes his first wise decision and take the money.

  • Everyone is missing the point. It is only about a 90 minute drive from Tampa to Orlando. If you are going from Tampa to any of Orlando’s area attractions (disney, universal) you need a car when you arrive.

    People are not going to drive 20 minutes to the train, pay to park their car, pay for the train, wait for a train, and then rent a car when they arrive in Orlando. They will take their own car because it is cheaper, faster and easier.

    In short this line will never make money so it was wise to reject the plan.

    High speed rail can only compete over long distances in the same way that air travel can.

    • It’s a 90 minute drive in the middle of the night. I left Orlando right before the economy crashed. Maybe now that no one has a job and there are no tourists, it’s a 90 minute drive again. For a lot of the day, 7 days a week, you can find yourself sitting still and not moving for 90 minutes during your 2-4 hour drive from Deltona or Sanford/Lake Mary to Tampa when people are employed and tourists are out.

  • Thank the heavens that there is some sanity in this country. Trains are a waste of money and we already have something higher tech and faster…airplanes. I don’t want my tax money going to build trains that I’ll never use. Building more highways and widening the existing ones where needed is a much more fiscally sound idea.

    • Yes. And I don’t want to pay for your useless expansion of clogged highways.

      I would support the abolition of the gas tax and the tolling of ALL roads. How’s THAT for some direct private enterprise?

  • Once again we are reminded of why one should never ever vote for a Republican. The deficit that motivates Republcans to make cuts to Pell Grants, USDA inspections and the above mentioned upgrades to transportation seemed so irrelevant 8 years ago as we cranked up the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, and passed the Medicaid part D (both events not paid for out of the budget but put paid for with borrowing).

    Now suddenly after also passing an extension to tax cuts for the top 2% of taxpayers, we need cuts to balance the budget.

    So when we cant find enough engineers to compete with the Chinese, get sick from the food that you buy in a store, and it takes you 4 hours to get from Tampa to Orlando, remember who made the decisions and set the priorities. Republicans.

    • I guess that you haven’t heard that we’re 14.1 TRILLION dollars in debt as a country, and there IS NO MONEY LEFT FOR ANYTHING!!! Undertaking wasteful, unnecessary projects to promote worthless, inefficient technologies from the 1920’s is STUPID. There wasn’t enough money for one war, let alone two, there isn’t enough money for Medicare, Medicade, Social Security, Public Employee Pensions, or ANYTHING ELSE. WE ARE BROKE and you would be foolish to believe that that would not be the case if Democrats were in charge of Florida.

      If you think that those tiny tax cuts are responsible for the past 80 years worth of debt, I have a bridge I’d like to sell you, cheap!

  • As a Democrat and Florida resident I applaud Rick Scott for the ONLY think he is doing worth a damn. Orlando and Tampa have very small downtown areas with most businesses distributed around the the whole area. HSR makes exactly zero sense. Not only will there be overruns (when has there not been overruns?) the FL taxpayers will be stuck with the maintenance and ongoing subsidies ad infinitum.

    There are few cities in America where HSR is feasible. We are not Europe. We are not Japan. We are not China. America is suburbanized to the extreme and a hub to hub transportation model makes zero sense.

    • I totally agree, our cities are way to spread out! Unless we can all drive our cars on that train without a hassle, arrive faster, and at a cheaper price, it makes absolutly no sense to arrive at your destination with no way to get around.

  • What’s a whooper?

  • When Gas 2.0 asked us what we wanted to see in their articles I did not once see anyone say that they wanted a foul mouthed liberal spewing a bunch of hate speech. This is not the direction that you should be going in Gas 2.0! I haven’t even made it past the first page and already the politics in two of your threads stink.

    • @ Reece

      Trial and error my good sir. I am learning, and one thing I’ve learned is to keep my potty mouth to my self on this site and I will be refraining from foul language in future posts.

  • Please don’t lump all of us that call Florida home in with Scott. I live no where near the proposed line, but would have supported it, knowing what that part of I-4 is like. Florida wanted the funds. Scott and his cronies did not.

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