All Aboard Florida: Small-Town Politicians Are Trying to Ruin Your Shot at Miami-Orlando High Speed Rail

Categories: Transportation

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It's a no-brainer that high-speed rail would make everybody's lives a little more bearable -- especially in Florida, where a simple shot up I-95 at the wrong time of day can be a Bataan Death March. Gov. Rick Scott has already flubbed one opportunity for high-speed rail between Tampa and Orlando by refusing federal funding.

But a new private project, All Aboard Florida, is hoping to fire trains from Miami to Orlando in three hours, with stops in Fort Lauderdale and West Palm. Great news, right? Well, a growing number of small-town politicians are beating on the project like a piñata.

The project plans for running 32 trains daily between Miami and Orlando. All Aboard Florida backers are putting $1 billion on the table for the project. They're also asking for a tax-backed $1.5 billion federal loan. As the project stands now, the high-speed rail will use existing track.

But along the Treasure Coast, folks aren't having it. Vero Beach, Port St. Lucie, Tequesta, Fort Pierce, Sebastian, Stuart, and Jupiter have all passed resolutions condemning the project. Indian River County also passed a similarly worded bill, and Martin County passed one last week.

A change.org petition set up by Florida NOT All Aboard demanding the project move its tracks west has almost 10,000 signatures. The concerns among the opposition run the gamut from reasonable --- environmental concerns, bridge issues -- to downright cranky -- noise!, traffic!, ambulances will get held up at crossings!

They're basically throwing the kitchen sink of NIMBY shit at All Aboard Florida, just hoping something sticks. And in these areas of the state that are being blown by the project, the opposition is finding a foothold.

For these small-town city council members and county commissioners, it's an easy political layup to bash a high-speed rail project that doesn't even stop in your community. It's become a whipping boy for the election season -- which should really piss off you, South Floridians, because your shot at having access to high-speed rail is being threatened by whether Treasure Coast pols thinks it'd be expedient to bash the project for a town council seat.

Look, we're all for cracking down on billion-dollar developments. But this isn't some redundant supermall but something that's actually going to haul Florida into the 21st Century. Yes, let's hash out the environmental issues, look at congestion. But don't use an actual meaningful project as a political football 'cause it's easy to lemming out in opposition.





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36 comments
mvminasian
mvminasian

Stupid !!!! I'm all for rail but NO Stops on the Treasure Coast !!! Where's the benefit for all the people living between Cocoa Beach and West Palm.???

trainsandchipsdan
trainsandchipsdan

I talked to a bunch of people from the Port St Lucie area this past weekend know what they said?They were against the project 100% but if the politicians can get FEC to add stops between Palm Beach and Orlando, they would be all for it.It wasn’t until details were released showing stations that people started to come out against the project.


FEC is a privately held company and they own their right of way.If they want to add additional track, they can and no one can really do much about it.It is privately owned land and private enterprise at work.


If the traffic comes in from the Panama Canal into the Port of Miami, the freight traffic will increase.No one can dispute that and there really isn’t much that anyone can do about that.If FEC wants to run more trains it will.


The laying of that new track or upgrading existing track isn’t a one way deal.That improvement increases the value of the right of way.Why doesn’t anyone admit that this will increase the tax revenue counties receive from FEC?They pay real property taxes on the land and they pay personal property tax on the rail and their facilities.Why don’t the politicians mention this?Why are the politicians that are against this project saying there isn’t any benefit to their home counties when there is plenty of financial gain?


This leads to the crux of the issue.The politicians can’t control this project like they do with Amtrak.When Amtrak wants to cut service or stops that are unprofitable, the politicians scream and cry out that if they make the cuts, they won’t get the subsidies.Politicians don’t have that control here.


This train will run for tourists and business travelers.No one disputes that many residents will not use this service.This service is to move people quickly between major tourist and business centers.It’s convenient; less of a hassle to drive to someplace on roads you’re not all that familiar with for tourists and business travelers. 

Stormwatch
Stormwatch

We have one of the country's most populated states, and one of the country's smallest land masses. It's about time we had high speed rail between major cities. Many tourists will use it. So will business travelers, and a good amount of leisurely travelers. If you folks who bought houses near railroad tracks don't like it, move to Alabama or West Virginia.

Stormwatch
Stormwatch

Finally, Florida is coming out of the dark ages.

fredd
fredd

IF this was on the WEST tracks, (west of I95) I might support it.


east tracks NFW! 


it makes no sense to run a train over 50 mph on the east tracks.   none.  


#2, who will really use this?  


if it costs say 40-50 bucks to go from miami to Orlando, who will pay that?  

-maybe some business travelers, or some cruise ship tourists.  IF there is public trans to the port.  (or nice buses).


as to the profitable trains, (D.C.  to Boston), well that's a good area with heavy traffic and lots of business travelers.  (commuters).  how similar to that is Florida?


I just don't see tourist using this, since you need a car on either end, and you are  saving what?  3 hours.  -just doesn't makes sense for a family. 


OTOH, I could see business commuters using this for the tampa to Orlando, or new business commuters relocating to tampa and working in miami.


-What could possibly go wrong with running a train on the east tracks?




clenz
clenz

funny. i lived in south florida for 30 years and no one took public transportation. you have a train -no one takes it. This train is not about transportation. Its about the panama canal and its about freight. Please take a ride by dixie hwy and the tracks before you villify us. We moved and live here not to be in south florida. you want this train have them negotiate for the west tracks. read the history of florida which is filled with all kinds of people taking advantage to further decimate our state.

a few things. Last summer we were decimated with green toxic algae in our river and lagoon. We were living in a poisonous toxc environment. no one came to help. im sure none of you guys down there even cared. and they will be back. we already have one report of flesh eating bacteria from the river.

we also have a power plant that we have to live with that makes you guys electicity. 

I think its enough.  i don't think we need anything more to destroy our lives. 

We certainly don't need anything else to destroy our marine industry.

and dont blame the politicians. blame us the people. 

but do take ride start in jupiter and follow the train at least to melborne. 

if there was a train that went from key west to jax and we could actually take the train lets say to key west or to st augustine and not drive i would be so down for that. that would be the beginning of a meaningful infrastructure of transportation. I grew up in Boston -i loved being able to go anywhere.

so right now

you guys have a train use that

and drive thru old florida , read a little history of the everglades and understand we're already a dumping ground for the eaa.

and your welcome. because we are the soul of florida. 



admmls
admmls

Well, I live in Fort Lauderdale and I am against the trains along with a lot of other people.  Everyone keeps saying it's a privately funded company but it's not.  They are trying to procure a 1.6 billion dollar loan from the FRA.  No passenger train has made a profit since Ford's first assembly line and if anyone believes that AAF will make a profit I have some land I'll sell ya.  The FEC tracks cut Fort Lauderdale in half and adding 32 trains a day will cause the very gridlock you were complaining about on I95.  Will you ride the train? Maybe?  No one knows what a ticket will cost and they have signed a no compete letter with Tri-Rail.  Hey you can ride Tri-Rail if you are so keen on trains.


We don't need to go backwards to a train track that was built a 100 years ago.  We need to move forward and build new tracks west of our cities.


If you really looked at this project you would know that this is not about passenger trains.  It's about freight.  It's a scam by FECI to get a loan to upgrade the tracks so they can run longer, heavier freight trains from the Port of Maimi and Port Everglades. 

peharri
peharri

Thank you. Agreed 100%.


It's not just the politicians, the local media up there is whipping up hysteria about the project, in some cases actively lying about it. It's a great way to sell newspapers, to gain votes from "scared" constituents, and at the end of the day, it's all founded on a bedrock of lies, misleading statements, and absurdities. And worse still, it's totally in bad faith: as an example, while they're protesting "noise" from additional trains, there's heavy lobbying from the _same_ people not to spend a cent on "Quiet zone" improvements.


FWIW, as a resident of Stuart, I find the protestors and my elected reps completely embarassing. And I'm not the only one there who feels that way. Funny how I _read_ about these NIMBYs all the time, yet can't find a single person in real life who's opposed to AAF...

riverrat69
riverrat69 topcommenter

Well Kyle, I think you are the no brainer. There is no business proposal to show how this boondoggle that is going to be financed at the taxpayers expense is going to turn a profit. There has been no passenger rail service in this country that has ever turned a profit in the last 50 years at least. They are all subsidized with taxpayer money. The profit is in moving freight, not people. This whole thing is a real estate developement scam foised on the taxpayers. All Aboard Florida is about the real estate developement in Miami, West Palm and Orlando, the real estate that FEC owns. We already have bus service and Amtrak from Miami to Orlando and it ain't being utilized. The Repubs just love spending taxpayer money on private industry. All Aboard Florida is all aboard the backs of the taxpayers.

Ben Pogue
Ben Pogue

....Do it with private $$ if its that great of a project, other wise it's just another way to use our $$ to make the rich even richer......

Double-T
Double-T

Finally.  Someone with some sense.  With our quickly growing population, the roads are only going to get more crowded.  Let us have the option not to drive.


kduble
kduble

@fredd  Tourists would park at one end and rent a car at the other, same as air travel.

kduble
kduble

@clenz  How could it be about the panama canal and its about freight? That's ridiculous! If the service makes 32 runs per day, it would have to do so on abandoned freight right-of-way. HSR has nothing to do with freight, the two are incompatible.

peharri
peharri

@admmls 

Another example of "throw anything out there and see what sticks":

1. We don't whether AAF will even apply for a loan at this stage, let alone how much it'll be, but nobody has suggested it'll be anywhere near $1.6, which exceeds, several times over, the maximum they could apply for.


2. Plenty of passenger trains have made a profit, and this is modeled after the Acela Express, the most profitable train in recent history.


3. A one-in-sixty chance of being delayed by thirty seconds is not going to cut any cities in half.


4. A track west of our cities is what FLHSR was about. That had a budget not of $1.5B but of around ten times that. And the infrastructure upgrades proposed would have done nothing to improve local transit. By comparison, the AAF proposal will make the Tri-Rail Coastal Link much, much, cheaper to implement.


5. FECI is not about freight, and if it was, how would it benefit from the upgrades which are all about capacity and speed, not "heavy trains". You think the intention is to quadruple the number of freight trains and run them all at 110mph?

clenz
clenz

@peharri no one is lying about the project. all info is vetted,. just because you choose not to believe it is your issue. i suppose your ok with the discharges from lake o -just something we have to live with.

peharri
peharri

@riverrat69 

See? This is an example of what the author's talking about. Throw any old allegation at the project and see what sticks.

Funding? AAF owns a MULTI BILLION DOLLAR RIGHT OF WAY. Of course they have funding.

No passenger rail service has ever made a profit? Amtrak has this very nice HALF A BILLION DOLLAR A YEAR PROFIT Acela Express service they'd like to show you. Why do you think Rep John Mica has been trying to have the NEC corridor privatized? You think people would buy it if it wasn't profitable? The entire NEC is profitable, and has been for years.

Real Estate Development "scam"? Where's the scam, and why would it be bad to profit from real estate development made possible by the service?

Bus service? You think a cramped six hour bus ride is somehow the same thing as a 3-4 hour ride in a comfortable train, with seats the size of first class airline seats, meals available when you want, the ability to get up and stretch your legs, etc? Have you ever ridden a train?


And this is a private project. No taxpayers money is being spent on it. So what on earth are you talking about with "Republicans" spending taxpayers money on private industry?


This is a great project. It deserves universal support. It has the potential to revolutionize passenger rail nationwide. And it does not deserve the false statements made against it over and over again by passenger rail opponents.



kduble
kduble

Rail development requires public involvement because only the government can condemn land for right-of-way.

riverrat69
riverrat69 topcommenter

@peharri @admmls They already applied for the federal loan and Rick the medicare ripoff artist handed them a new station at taxpayers expense.

Gov. Rick Scott announced this afternoon February 17, 2014 at Orlando International Airport that he intends to spend up $215 million in state money to build a new station at OIA that could house several trains, including a privately financed one that would link Central and South Florida.

Scott has set aside $123 million in his budget this year. The remainder would come next year, if he is re-elected.

admmls
admmls

@peharri @admmls AAF has already applied for the loan.  That is why the FRA is preparing an EIS.  I didn't make up the 1.6 billion dollars.  It is published.   


The Acela Express is part of Amtrak system.  Amtrak lost 2 Billion dollars last year and is subsidised by the government. 


You are correct. FECI is not freight.  FECR is freight but FECR, FECI and AAF are all owned by Fortress.  Fortress will unload AAF in a few years and the only thing that will be left is real estate and freight.  The real estate will look like RiverFront in Fort Lauderdale.


We are not throwing anything our there.  All you have to do is a little research.


Have a good day.

peharri
peharri

@clenz @peharri You're blaming passenger trains for discharges on Lake Okeechobee?

And no, it's not a matter of "choosing" to disbelieve anything. It's a matter of the statements made by passenger rail opponents being objectively false. You're talking about a bunch that was, until recently, claiming these 1,000ft trains would tie up railroad crossings for FIVE MINUTES at a time! (They'd have to be several miles long for that to be true!)


Open your eyes. You're being lied to by a hysterical NIMBY campaign.

Tril
Tril

Profitable for who?

I wonder how many of these politicians and supporters live close enough to the tracks they so vehemently support.

Kinda reminds me of all the good hearted liberals who love to lament the plight of the under priveledged as they jam them down the throats of the middle class while sitting in their gated communities.

Peharri

You sound like a shill for the railway. Do you live close to a RR track?

fredd
fredd

@peharri @riverrat69


Other than the high density NE section of the country, were else does passenger rail work?


California?  it should there.  

Chicago to Detroit? it should there too.


-I have taken the Boston to NYC rail, and it was good, since it saved time from going to an airport outside of city centers.


but why would I take it from miami to Orlando?  how much time will I save?  (vs driving my car).  


clenz
clenz

@peharri @riverrat69 there is no revolution here. they are applying for a loan. they have had loan in other places and then left those other places with the bag. they are backed by a private hedge fund. go in get the cash and then leave. 

i road the train for 3 weeks thru england and all my life in new england. i love the train. this creates no infrastructure. plus that how is the train going to go fast with all the freight on it. 

 

clenz
clenz

@peharri @riverrat69  john mica is trying to destroy the other side of florida with fracking so i hardly think we should use him as an example. we already know he is in it up to his rear end with private interests.

kduble
kduble

@admmls @peharri  While the Amtrak system as a whole runs at a loss, as does the Interstate Highway System, Acela and other lines in the northeastern corridor are profitable. Their revenues subsidize the longer, money losing lines in the rest of the country.


Amtrak's charter is to run a coast-to-coast operation. It isn't supposed to make a profit. If it was, it would focus on the Northeast, and it wouldn't bother with the rest of the country. But that's not what Congress wanted.

peharri
peharri

AAF did initially make an application. It was not for $1.6B. They withdrew the application. Right now they're _considering_ it.


The Acela Express is profitable. It makes half a billion dollars a year. The entire NEC is profiitable. The subsidy Amtrak receives is for the non-NEC operation.


The fact FIG owns FECI and FECR is neither here nor there. There's nothing being built that benefits freight. End of story.


Yes, you are throwing stuff out there. The nearest you had to a fact rather than a change of subject was some out of date information about a loan, a loan that was nowhere near as big as you claimed. The rest of your responses are attempts to change the subject. I mention a profitable passenger train, you complain that the company that runs it doesn't make a profit (well of course it doesn't, it runs lots of unprofitable services too!), I mention that the upgrades don't benefit the freight operation, you. uh... look ove3r there!


The difference between me and the NIMBYs is that I've done the research. If you had done so, you wouldn't be claiming that AAF has an application for a $1.6B loan, you wouldn't be claiming there are no profitable passenger services, and you wouldn't be claiming that some double tracking and HSR-compliant rail road crossings will help a freight line.


kduble
kduble

@fredd @peharri @riverrat69  Texas will have HSR operating between Houston and Dallas within 8 years, possibly sooner than California. There is no opposition in Texas. Furthermore, this will be true HSR, 210 mph -- that's 100 mph faster than what's being proposed for Florida -- and it will operate on its own tracks.


Florida could have been the leader, but there's too much negativity in Florida. Texas has a can-do attitude. I'm sure Florida will come around eventually, after Texas and California.


http://www.nbcdfw.com/news/local/Plans-Announced-for-High-Speed-Rail-to-Houston-258316161.html

peharri
peharri

@clenz 

They own a multibillion dollar right of way. If they just wanted to raise money, there are easier ways than some kind of conspiracy that... I can't even begin to be honest to figure out what you'd think this is about.

The train is going to go fast because they're double tracking the entire system from Miami to Cocoa and both tracks will be bi-directional. This means fast trains can pass slow trains. They're also spending a fortune on upgrading crossings to FRA HSR standards.

There's no mystery here. It's a service based upon the Acela Express - run at a decent speed, link large, populous, cities.

Finally I don't like John Mica either, but what does that have to do with anything? Mica is proposing that the NEC be privatized because he can, not because it's a good idea. The important bit is to understand that he can: he can propose it, because people would be lining up to buy it. 


Tril
Tril

Makes a profit for who?

admmls
admmls

@peharri I am not making any of this up.  AAF has provided information and I spoke to a VP with FECR concerning the freight trains.


Take a deep breath and calm yourself.

kduble
kduble

@peharri @clenz You can't share right-of-way with freight and operate a high-speed service with mere double tracking. You'd have to have double tracking even without freight. Throw freight into the mix, and you're talking about triple, or even quadruple-tracking. This is what Acela uses.

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