Hypothetically, if we did have rail, I live about thirty minutes from Busch Gardens, if it really WAS high speed, I could have feasibly visited Orlando more often. Less gas and mileage on my car and I probably would've saved time. Or, at the very least, wouldn't have had to spend two to three hours driving on I-4. ;)
Having options on renting cars or taking the train…
Thanks to the GOP leadership in FLA…
It's a sad day for Florida when the state gives up on investing in its tourism infrastructure.
I guess the GOP can't let Obama have credit for something. Hopefully the administration remembers this the next time they consider earmarking money for the state of Florida. Florida is uninterested in jobs, infrastructure, or tourism.
I can't believed politics didn't have anything to do with it. I just can't! I agree 100% about it being a nice sell to the European tourists, or further more to people which don't really like driving that much. I know quite a few people which don't enjoy driving around, but I understand in the U.S. the old mighty car rules! The BIGGER the better too!
Sad day for Florida... (in my opinion)
By the way, I did not vote for Rick Scott.
Though I'm not a Republican, I think the one-sided reporting here was unnecessary.
Nick in Orlando
Our country needs to take bold initiatives towards transportation alternatives so we can curtail our ravenous appetite for foreign oil. Why not get started BEFORE we reach critical mass population problems? Also, we have severe road rage issues in Central Florida.
Between this and the potential merit-pay structure for public schools (which will likely cause massive layoffs to fund), many people (including myself) will likely lose their jobs...in addition to receiving substantially reduced unemployment benefits).
Way to have a vision of growth for Florida, Rick Scott! I would love to hear what jobs are going to be created. Funny, he hasn't seemed to mention much of that except in the vaguest of terms. Maybe he's too busy burning some cash in a fireplace since doubling his office's budget after becoming governor. I thought he was supposed to be against big government?
It's days like these that I miss do-nothings like Charlie Christ.
A very simple example: A train can carry 1000 passengers. There are 500 people willing to pay 100$ for the train ticket and 500 willing to 40$. The social optimum price for the ticket is 40$, full train, the profit maximicing is 100$, train half empty.
Most of both groups would have gone by car if there were no train line which would have lead to higher road construction and maintenance costs, more noise, more death, more chroincal illness. Some would have not made the trip without rail: Those add profits for the theme parks which have rather low variable customers just like trains.
For all of you who have never been to DLP, it is connected by rail to downtown Paris and it is POPULAR beyond belief. It is an asset to DLP and very convient
How can the Gov think this is a bad idea? It creates jobs, clears up I-4 for the locals, and allows Disney and Universal to get more guests which equals more money for them and the state. I hope that the theme parks lobby for this!
I really really can imagine how this could be a bad thing for FL.
Robert, you took the words right out of my mouth. A train line would both honor Walt's love of trains, and hopefully help keep tourists off the roads, reducing congestion.
I mean, really, would you rather be on a DME bus, or a train that doesn't get stuck in traffic?
You have all discussed the many real benefits of the rail link and the only real opposition to it appears to be the financial implication. That, of course, and the line itself cutting a swathe across the landscape which could, if not done sympathetically, raise objections.
The financial argument against building the line is probably a little shortsighted as most models for this sort of project demonstrate that they do eventually turn a profit. Certainly as a visitor to Florida I know that, from a selfish p.o.v , it would encourage me to ditch the car on the days that I visit the parks. It would also possibly allow for visiting more parks, more often, in one day depending on the timetables.Hopefully it wouldn't impact too much on the car rental businesses so no loss there either.Environmentally, socially, and economically it seems to make good sense but politics are politics and that appears to be the biggest obstruction from what I've read here.
Personally for me, the rail would have made me go to to Universal more often.
Another thought......unless you are Richie Rich, individuals under 25 can not rent cars so how do you really expect them to get around Orlando folks! Spring Break is very popular at the parks!
I also can't help but notice that the rail seems a bit like Walt Disney's hope for the future of transportation. I mean, they are basically building a bigger and more affordable monorail.
The Disney Monorail: The Crowning Jewel of Socialism! I am sure a commie like Walt Disney would have be proud ;)
Because we've spent way more money than we've taken in. It's a bit like the U.S. government has a giant credit card and charged, charged, charged in the vain hope that somehow this would lead to prosperity. It never does. Learn the lessons of history. At the end of the first World War, Germany's economy was in tatters. In the hopes of rebuilding it, the treasury printed money -- much as the U.S. Federal Reserve is doing now. This led to hyperinflation and more hard times.
Does history repeat itself? Only if we let it do so by not being informed citizens.
The U.S. government is not broke. Far from it, the government remains able to borrow money at ridiculously low rates. And it could balance its annual budget in an instant if its leaders had the political will to raise taxes below their current levels, which are the lowest in 60 years.
When the private economy is suffering is precisely the time when the government should step in, to provide the demand for construction work that the private sector currently cannot.
This project would have cost the State of Florida nothing. And, over time, it would have returned billions of dollars to the federal treasury, in income taxes paid by employed workers (who'd no longer need unemployment insurance payments or food stamps - saving the government money elsewhere in the budget), and taxes on the economy activity generated by the presence of these trains.
This project would have helped make Central Florida a more attractive vacation destination for international visitors. It would have helped increase attendance and spending at Florida's theme parks while taking rental cars off the roads in the Orlando area, easing the area's crushing traffic problems. And it would have created thousands of jobs in Florida at a time when the state desperately needs them.
Killing the project takes all that away. For what? A net savings of zero to the state of Florida, plus the loss of all those potential new jobs and economic activity. Gov. Scott chose to sacrifice all that simply to deny President Obama any credit for economic development in Florida. That's just stupid, selfish management.
Allow me to suggest that the folks who recognize all this are the far more informed citizens than you are, Anonymous.
So, in fifteen years when there are another 20-25 million visitors (80-100 million est. total) coming to the area trying to get to the parks, and another 100,000 citizens trying to get to work, will they be prepared to handle it? Somehow I doubt it.
The only theme park group that would be fine with or without is Disney. They pick up their guests at the airport and brings them to their hotel. This also makes sure that the guest (ahem) goes ONLY to Disney. If I were Universal or Busch, I would be throwing a fit.
And why not build it anyway? It gives jobs locally, helps the local businesses by giving them more customers, and builds SOMETHING to look at and be proud of in the future.
I wish you were the governor of Florida! Why don't you move here and run for office? You would have my vote.
For the record, I would have loved to see this project move forward, would have used for sure!
From what I have read, Florida's state budget is already approaching a deficit of nearly $4 billion, and some experts predict that this high-speed rail project would end up costing Florida taxpayers an additional $3 billion (as Brian already stated), and never be financially self-sustaining.
It is also noteworthy that there are other non-rail highway projects that the state of Florida could undertake with that $2.4 billion (which would supply the jobs everyone so dearly covets), but transportation secretary Ray LaHood says "No way".
The point is there are two sides to every story, and if the benefits were as clear cut as some have proposed then the Governor would not have made the choice he made as it would be political suicide. Call me naive, but we just have to hope that the Governor did what he (and those advising him) felt was best for the state.
Me, I just want someone to talk about high-speed rail for Kansas City so I don't have to ride on an uncomfortable, packed bus every morning!
High Speed Rail service that runs a few times a day, makes me spend another half an hour to get local transportation or rent a car anyway, and costs $20 for a one way trip, 15 bucks to park at the TPA airport... will result in me spending more to take more time to get from Tampa to Orlando on business. My car costs at government per diem rates is %40/each way. A family of 3-4 would spend far more and have far more hassle to get there than just driving for a day at Disney. I also give up flexibility. And what decision do you want me to make?
Before even considering high speed rail, we have to get local rail that is efficient, safe, cheap, and makes sense. But local rail generally only makes sense to and from heavily populated destinations such as downtown and the parks. But most business and therefore most traffic isn't coming from or destined to these locations. As to costs, even Disney hasn't put in local rail to replace their bus service and they spend a lot for their bus service.
We can consider as local tourist rail and that does make sense. I believe it could cover operating costs and help traffic significantly in peak seasons.
High speed rail at a cost of $2.6B paid over 20 years at 3% interest is a little under %14.5M/month to cover capital cost. Federal or state money, we are borrowing it. Allocating $10/one way ticket towards initial construction costs would require about 4800 one way rail tickets a day or about 5-8 sold out runs each direction a day. And this is before operating costs, maintenance, the inevitable scope creep, and high risk of at least 20% cost overruns.
Somebody argue for me why this makes any sense for the state or the country to spend money here with little to no chance to recover the $2.6B capital + $0.9B interest. Please. If it does make financial sense, get a private company to build it and the government can provide some subsidies. With these costs and ROI, no business will touch it in Florida.
Well said Anthony. Totally agree with you.
There are three approaches to think about when addressing this subject...the ideological, the theoretical and the practical. Given the fact that we live in political ideological times, and also that Republicans like to use rail projects as punching bags, it's obvious that this subject can turn into a massive political ideological debate (see 75% of the previous comments), and fail to address the real issues associated with it.
The issue with rail systems for me isn't the irrational fear of government control or that the projects tend to be favored by liberals. The issue becomes trust...trust in the government, trust in their competency, and trust in them spending OUR money responsibly. Theoretically, a light rail system in Orlando would be a good thing. Traffic is horrible, road maintenance costs are probably high, and a good number of people would use it during peak season, making things a little easier. It would bring jobs and theoretically, revenue....provided enough people used it, which would need to be a whole lot. If the project could mostly pay for itself, didn't waste money, and it was of high quality, then I would support it...but that's the 64,000 dollar question.
That said, we're not talking about a private company taking a risk and investing in the project accordingly. We're talking about the government. The highest spending, fairly incompetent, most wasteful business entity in history wants my money to tackle a project. They pick the people who research and build it (probably in a corrupt manner), they finance the project through taxpayer money, and they have absolutely zero idea of what it means to stick to a budget. If all of that is true (and one has to be blind to deny it is), then why am I to believe that they won't screw it up, or not even use the money for that project at all. Giving the government money to spend on a potential money pit isn't something I prefer to do. Why? Because politicians are playing with house money and not their own, and the outcome of this project has zero effect on them or their pocketbook. If they run out of money, they simply print more and make things worse. Think of it as giving money to a gambling addict and expecting them to act in a responsible manner with it. I won't even start on the long list of examples. While the idea of a rail system in Orlando is a pretty good one, I don't think the government can be trusted with my money for it, until they prove that they know how spend within their means, and how to run a project without subpar results or totally screwing the pooch on it.
Aside from that and aside from political ideology, you know that there has to be more to this story than the governor simply rejecting the plan. There are people, companies, money, and politics all behind the curtain on this one. The question isn't why he rejected it. The questions are these. Whose money talked the loudest, what entity in the room really wields the biggest stick in the argument, and if this project is such a good idea, then why hasn't it been done already? That's not to say it's not a good idea, but a little research and some critical thinking might generate some real answers. Perhaps we the people should spend more time searching for truth rather than fighting about political ideology. Doing so has gotten us nowhere.
I think Mr. Potter just took first place for, as Anthony put it, "quote of this discussion". =)
Maybe if we could get the debt monster under control this would be a good idea. I'm afraid that will never happen and we are mortgaging our children's futures. It's not about hating trains, the environment, etc. WE ARE BROKE, PEOPLE, what do we not understand about that? I'm afraid our government and a lot of people are still in denial.
I would also suggest that if a high speed train between theme parks is such a good idea, maybe the parent co. of BGT, Disney, and Universal ought to get together and build one with their own money.
If we are broke, then why did the government extend the tax cuts for the rich? You can't have it both ways.
But the real reason they extended the Bush tax cuts was 'cause Obama's presidency was in a tale spin (he's still trying to count all the Republican seats in the House) and if he had "raised" taxes there might have been an uprising. Plus, continuing the tax cuts shows Obama is pursuing a more centrist course - much like Clinton did during his Presidency. Something that will help him hold on to more of the all important Independent voters in the next election.
Hey, it's all about keeping your job - the American public be damned!
If there is a market for high speed rail, someone would build it. We have plenty of entrepeneurs in this country, who would invest in money-making opportunities.
But to expect some poor working joe in Minnesota, or more accurately, his children and grandchildren, to pay for rich tourists to ride subsidized high-speed rail to parks his kids will never get to go to? Sorry.
We can stop spending that money. If we all stop thinking federal money is free, if we stop taking the bribes, we can stop.
If everybody rejected the money for stupid spending we can't afford, they COULDN'T spend it. We could re-purpose it to the almost half of the spending that currently isn't paid for.
We are not "broke"; we are spending money we don't have, and we owe a boatload of money.
You couldn't raise taxes enough to balance the budget. You could raise tax rates, but it would simply put more people in a position where they made less, and paid less in taxes.
And even if we weren't spending money we don't have, there's no rational reason for people in West Virginia to pay taxes for Florida's high-speed rail; if it's so good for Florida, Florida should pay for it. That's true for most states -- I mean, some states are dirt poor, and deserve a little help, but Florida isn't one of them.
I wonder if you could correlate those who support this idea and those who don't, with those who can regularly afford to vacation at Disney resorts, and those who are "stuck" with attending Cedar Point or Six Flags.
Although it would be sad to make those poor six flags attendees pay taxes so rich people can ride a subsidized high-speed rail to their Disney Resort Vacation.
Disneyland Paris benefits hugely from being linked up to a high speed rail line. I can hop on a train in London and be at my resort hotel within a few hours and without that connection its likely I wouldn't make the trip.
Having a similar service in Florida, for me, would make all the difference. Especially in the current economic climate when being budget-conscious makes me think twice about holidays which require car rentals.
Great points, Derek. Disney wields the biggest stick for tourism, no questions asked, and they would seemingly benefit the most from this rail system... or maybe not.
Disney knows that people will find a way to their parks, whether via rental car, shuttle bus, train, or cab. Public transportation isn't necessarily going to make any more money for them. In fact, it might actually cost them. Remember when Disney implemented Magical Express, the free shuttle from the airport to your Disney hotel? Why offer a free service like that? For one, it gives travelers an incentive to get a hotel at Disney and stay in Disney. Conversely, a public train does not. A public train gives travelers that were considering a Disney hotel the option to stay outside Disney without getting a rental car. Further, it gives them the option to visit other area parks.
Sounds like a good reason to wave that beatin' stick about.
It is not like rail service was going to be a FREE option, it was just going to be a slightly faster way to get from, let's say, Orlando to Tampa. Maybe Busch Gardens would see a few more visitors, but even that seems unlikely as the average Disney family doesn't generally extend out to visiting parks where so many attractions have 46" to 54" height requirements.
If anything this rail system would probably have made it easier to get to Disney parks as they would likely all be linked directly to the system whereas other parks would require you to ride to a hub, then shuttle, taxi, or hike to your destination.
Furthermore, the Disney Company is very much involved (at least on the surface) in the "greening" of the planet. So this rail system's potential ability to cut down traffic, fumes, and pollution, would seemingly be something to which Disney would love to attach their name and backing. Unless, maybe, ultimately, even Disney thought the idea was going to be more costly than some would have us believe?
So, while I do agree Disney has the clout to influence these types of things, I just don't see a downside for them unless the state was going to raise corporate taxes to cover the overrun and ongoing costs.
I'm just saying....They are number one in the market, they need all of that attendance to sustain themselves, and they have the power and influence through the sheer amount of taxes they pay, the amount of people they employ, and the amount of revenue they bring to the city and state...to influence or force just about any decision made by local and state governments. They've done it before. If you think they aren't capable of such things...read this book
And even when people do venture off Disney grounds it's not like they suddenly have some sort of theme park epiphany like, "OMG what have I been missing all these years?!? After visiting Hogwarts I'm never going to a Disney park again!" That change of heart doesn't happen. Granted, folks may grow in the appreciation of the product Universal is putting before the masses (and they should, my goodness Universal has been doing some great work for years now), but Disney still puts it all together better than anyone else out there.
With or without "fast" rail, Disney will continue to be the main attraction in Florida in the foreseeable future - at least until 12-12-12 when the world ends.
With a rail system, I more people planning other parks in their visits. The constraints of traffic, parking fees, and even hotel selection are out the window for people. Sure they will go to Disney, but many wouldn't be exclusive to them anymore, and that's how Disney makes their hay...through hotels and keeping their guest on the property. If even a small amount of the 30 million people who visit Disney choose to leave for one or two days, it has a big impact. A rail system is a game changer. Green initiatives, marketing campaigns, and corporate speak goes right out the window when the bottom line is affected enough.