Florida's governor rejects rail plan to link state's major theme parks
Florida's governor, Rick Scott, has scuttled the proposed high-speed rail line that would have connected the Orlando airport with Central Florida's theme parks, from Orlando to Tampa.
The French rail station just outside Disneyland Paris
The newly elected Republican governor is sending back $2.4 billion in federal money to build the rail line, the latest in a string of rejections of federal rail money by Republican governors around the country. The governors of Wisconsin and New Jersey recently rejected federal money for rail projects in their states.
Florida would have been required to put up $280 million in matching money to help pay for the project, but several contractors bidding for the construction work had expressed interest in refunding part of their fees to cover that, if they got the lucrative contract.
The elimination of the project will cost Florida several thousand construction jobs, as well as eliminating what could have been a popular way to move thousands of tourists each day between the airport and the state's major theme parks. Some initial plans for the line would have had it running from the airport to a stop near Universal Orlando and the Orlando convention center, stopping again at Walt Disney World, and continuing on to Tampa, where the line would have ended near Busch Gardens. A midway stop along the I-4 corridor, which would have been within a short bus ride of Legoland Florida, was under discussion, as well.
In a Theme Park Insider vote of the week last year, 46% of visitors to Central Florida who responded replied that they would like to switch to the high-speed train, instead of using rental cars or hotel shuttles to get to their destinations.
While rail isn't part of America's current car culture, intercity rail is popular in Europe. And with The Wizarding World of Harry Potter enticing even more Europeans to consider the already popular Orlando area theme parks, a well-designed rail line could help seal the deal with more European visitors who'd rather not drive American roads, and encourage them to extend their visit to more of the parks along the rail route.
Despite Gov. Scott's rejection, the federal rail money will be spent. Like the rejected New Jersey and Wisconsin money, the cash for the Florida project will go now to California, which is proceeding with its high-speed rail line linking the San Francisco Bay Area with Southern California, a line which eventually will include a stop within walking distance of... Disneyland.
Shame, but since I live in Florida, this isn't a huge hit for me. I can see why the governor would prefer to pass up on the funds because, really, we don't NEED high speed rail here. If you're flying into Orlando, you're already right next to the stuff that really matters. The rail would've only really helped by bringing additional attendance to Busch Gardens and the future Legoland, if you ask me. Disney has no issues with attendance and Potterland has somewhat solved Universal's attendance issues.
My concern with the rail is would there be enough passengers to cover the cost of running the rail. Probably not. I live north of Orlando and it would not help me get to the parks or anywhere else.
Who wants jobs anyway? Clean air, less traffic congestion…
I understand him not keeping the cash. But I do wish that they could have set something like that up to link Miami and Orlando.
Remember, you build capital not just to serve existing customers, but to attract new ones.
Well that's a shame (I can think of some much stronger terms if this wasn't a family friendly site.)
That is a real shame--I live in Tampa and would certainly have used it to visit the theme parks.
Well atleast I will have an option take the train to San Deigo from Disneyland.
I'm sure SunRail will be the next project in Rick "Medicare Fraud" Scott's sights.
Well... That stinks(%$#!) I don't live in Florida but I was planning to ride the train towards Tampa when completed. Since we actually don't rent a car and go by bus to Tampa. A train would had been a welcomed addition, at least in our family travel plans.
Ok, now I am really angry. Republicans hate trains. It's a fact. This project was going to start a new revolution of mass transit in America. Now it seems that California will be the one that will lead the way.
Civil engineering infrastructure is almost always a good investment in a hurting economy.
First, in total dismay! The State of Florida has been trying to lobby for high speed rail for decades. It was even placed in the constitution. Governor Jeb Bush took it down, so after several years in limbo, came the news that there would be a new high speed rail coming to Florida. Although there where some skeptical members of the Florida legislature, they took the opportunity so seriously, to even call for especial legislation to pass both the high speed rail and the Sun Rail project to link Central Florida with the theme parks and Tampa. But what I find ironic and politically speaking, where was the promise of more jobs in the Sunshine State that was made by Governor Scott?
The high-speed rail line sounded like a really great idea, no wonder it was shot down. This country is mired in leaders who lack vision. Oh well, I guess Busch Gardens Tampa continues to stay off of the to do list when I visit Orlando.
One sided reporting? It seems like a clear cut issue of republicans hating on Obama and our dear mother Earth. There is no rational reason to cut this project that would have created jobs, relieved some of the terrible traffic on i-4, and help keep our planet alive. I live in Orlando, and I know this rail would have been great for us. I can't wait until we can vote this criminal Governor out of office.
I'm fine with the rejection of this big porkbarrel project, because I live an hour away from the Orlando area's theme parks, so I'm fine taking I-4 every time I go out there to have fun in Orlando.
I am sorely disappointed at this turn of developments, to put it mildly. I was looking forward to the opportunity to be able to take a ride via high-speed rail and not have to drive on I-4, which, by the way, was rated the third most dangerous highway in America (I-95 is #1). It seems like every other time I head out to Disney World I get stuck in god-awful traffic. I would like to arrive at the parks in a safe and non-stressed out condition.
It is worth pointing out that those trains would not be real high speed rail, which is a good thing. That is just marketing talk. Real high speed rail is incredible expensive, only economical on very few connections. The system under debate is something we consider normal passenger rail here in Europe regular trains every hour that are punctual and go above 30 miles per hour. That should workout very well. The metropolitan areas are quite big and the land is flat (=cheap construction, enough demand). The only but huge downside is the horrible previous city planing or lack thereoff. If everything were not so extrme spread arround, with no center or dense areas, even real high speed rail could work.
When done right, low speed rail revenue will typically _not_ cover operational costs and as i said above, the plan wasnt really high speed rail. Rail has huge positive externalities and very low variable costs for marginal passengers which puts the social optimum price far below the profit maximicing price.
Given current traffic on I-4 during rush hours anything that travels faster than, oh, 25 mph between I-Drive and Disney could be considered "high speed." :^)
The real shame is that the money is going to be spent regardless. Once again, we spend money we don't have. Will we never learn?
"Given current traffic on I-4 during rush hours anything that travels faster than, oh, 25 mph between I-Drive and Disney could be considered "high speed." :^)"
This is a prime example of what's gone wrong in the US. This project cost Florida almost nothing and would have greatly enhanced the ability of tourists to get around to the parks, lowered pollution and lessened the traffic on the roads. It's called having a vision for a better future, and the GOP has completely lost that in the hope of cheap political shots and points. It's simply pathetic.
With any venture of this type you have to weigh up the pros and cons.
multiple posts as I got "failed" messages . Sorry.
At risk of sounding like an ignorant limey from across the pond this seems to an outside observer to reflect a deeper malaise in US politics right now. It appears to have gotten to the stage where you've moved beyond the ability to have rational political debate. Republicans now hate, (and I use the term carefully), Democrats, and vice versa, and so any and all governmental decisions, local or national, seem to reflect that hatred. It shoiuldn't matter to me as a UK citizen but the USA is such a massive player on the world stage that believe me we are all worried about the direction you appear, (and again I stress the word 'appear'), to be heading...
Im live with in the area that wa on the line. I also work in orlando as well and belive me I-4 is a mess. Between gouests form all over the world and retires, students from other countries, and the list goes on. We need a hiogh speed rail mass tranist system. While I love my cver and the ablitly to get were I need to be. High speed rail, Light rail, and better mass transit would help out a lot. Esample I lived in the Washington, D.C. area beofre moving to central fl. ANd I used the bus metro all the time I lived in Alexandria and used to take the bus to the Metro to Bethsida every day for work. On the raer times Id use my care the commuite was about 2hrs. one way. ANd by mass trainist it took a whole 25 mins. Does the orlando area need it you bet!. ANd the new governor bii hoos the whole ide4a. Another example of a rich man whos not in touch with whats needed. You go California having the insght to see down the ropad at the big picture.
Robert's line about I-4 traffic is the quote of this discussion in my opinion. My uncle lives in a suburb of Orlando and he would agree!
Lots of folks in the comments section here have trashed the Florida governor for rejecting this public works boon-doggle. The simple fact being ignored by most posters is the U.S. is broke. At some point in the near future, it's very possible that China stops lending to the U.S. When this happens, our financial system - like a house of cards - will collapse.
I have to wonder if 10, 15, 20 years from now whether this decision might be questioned. I'm not necessarily saying that I think HSR is the be-all solution, but I do think it's one that should be considered, not just for Orlando to Tampa, but for our whole country. There are only so many roadways that can be built to handle the growing number of cars. Then on top of roadways, you have pollution and the costs to maintain those roadways. Then, there is the cost of fuel and the impact on the environment to continue producing fuel for all those cars.
For all who think that this is one sided, this is THEME PARK Insider. We love theme parks here and that rail would have been something really good for the FL theme parks, simple at that. There might be pros and cons to the proposal, but, from the Theme Park side, there really is only positives. It is also a bit shocking that FL would reject something that would greatly help tourism.
Dont see how such a rail project could add to the foreign debt. A train line would have lead to less oil imports, less car imports and more tourism exports. Some foreign trains are unlikely to offset those gains.
Article in USA Today. This project could put Florida (the taxpayers) on the hook for another $3 billion and once completed, there's a good chance ridership won't pay for the operating cost, meaning the state would have to pump even more money into the line each year.
I am not political by nature, nor do I claim to be much of an economist, but raising taxes to pay for an overspending government sounds like yet another form of a bailout. And borrowing more money when we are already trillions in debt seems to be like trying to put out a fire with gasoline. If it won't work for a guy like me who is just trying to eke out an existence in an unstable economy, why will it work for the government? Call me a simpleton, but "that don't make no sense, Everett!"
All the talk about how bad I-4 is, this project would have done absolutely nothing to help. If we want something with much lower costs and more immediate payback, local rail would go a lot farther if run more effectively than the government currently demonstrates it is able.
Anthony wrote :
Let me ask a question that hasn't been asked yet. Were any of the parks against the rail system? Maybe the biggest most influential one with the most to lose? Think they wouldn't do it? It wouldn't be the first time they derailed such a project through "influence". Just a thought.
"The highest spending, fairly incompetent, most wasteful business entity in history wants my money to tackle a project."
Well, it's a nice idea but the country is broke. We can't afford to be doing stuff like this. And "free" federal money always comes with strings attached, and things that must be paid for by the state after the feds have left. The interest on our national debt is now almost as much as our annual GDP. When you are maxed out on your credit cards, you have to stop spending or disaster will result. It's the same with the government. In a few years, 93 cents of every federal dollar will be consumed by Medicare, Medicaid, Social Security, and interest on the national debt.
They extended my tax cuts too - thank God! $1,000 bucks per kid tax CREDIT is a huge deal in my house (that's how Bush bought my vote years ago).
Got to stop that spending somehow. We were all going to pay some day; the 2.4 billion wasn't free.
Robert, the only reason taxes are "low" is that so many people are out of work, and so many more lost their good-paying jobs and took lower-paying jobs, and there was a temporary "stimulus" that cut some people's taxes a lot lower, while spending money we didn't have, mostly for people who tend to vote for the president's party.
As someone from the UK, who visits Florida regularly, I find it disappointing the proposal has been scrapped.
I don't see how a train would change anything related to the number of folks taking a Disney vacation. Visitors have always had a variety of travel options when staying off-property... and most hotels and resorts offer shuttle service to and from Disney parks and resorts. Even Universal will arrange for a shuttle to pick you up at your Disney resort and take you to Universal and vice versa.
The cost of building or riding the rail isn't the issue. The last thing that Disney wants is for people to leave their property. Putting a high speed rail that connects them directly to their competition does absolutely nothing for them but expose their customers to other parks and the city of Orlando, because it suddenly becomes a lot easier for that family in the middle of the Magic Kingdom that's staying at a Disney hotel to go check out the new Harry Potter attractions at Universal. They aren't interested in connecting with other parks that draw half as many visitors as they do. They know that 30 million people already come to visit them, and they don't need a rail to draw them. They stand to lose, not gain..customers and money.
I get your point, Derek, I really do. I just don't believe that people are simply skipping out on other Orlando area parks because the state does not have "fast" rail. There is plenty of access between Disney, Universal, SeaWorld, and even Busch Gardens. Rail would provide one MORE method of travel, but it's not like Disney has guards posted at every resort exit preventing visitors from leaving (oops, I hope I didn't just give someone at Disney an "idea"). People stay on Disney property because they offer a very complete vacation package, and that package is not going to change any time soon.
It's all speculation anyway. When all of the Disney magic is stripped away, it's still a business...plain and simple, and it operates accordingly. Many would probably still choose to stay at Disney, but a rail system connecting all of the parks makes it a whole lot easier and more convenient for visitors to plan a different kind of vacation. This rail system would greatly encourage the park hopper, and Disney isn't interested in fueling such a temptation because they stand to lose the most.
And so, we once again agree to disagree. And we'd made so much progress, you and I! ;)
Ironically, Walt loved trains. I wonder how he would have felt about the project, particularly considering his love of technology and disinterest in profit.
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