By Ami Cholia
Posting in Cities
A new study by Florida's Department of Transportation shows that high-speed rail in the state would have made money. Unfortunately, LaHood has categorically said the money is now going to go to other states.
Florida's governor Rick Scott may have effectively killed high-speed rail for his state, but several other states are clamoring for the money.
Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood said at the Senate Appropriations Committee's Transportation and Housing and Urban Development subcommittee meeting today that he plans to reallocate the $2.4 billion in high-speed rail money to other parts of the country.
Sen. Bill Nelson (D-Fla.) had been hoping that LaHood would allow four Florida cities -- Orlando, Tampa, Miami and Lakeland -– to bid for the high-speed money without Scott's involvement, but LaHood categorically said that the funds will be used somewhere else.
"There is a line outside of my door of governors, senators and congressmen," he told The Hill. "There is no shortage of interest in the $2.4 billion we're going to reallocate from Florida."
While Scott rejected the high-speed rail funds stating potential cost overruns, a new report released by the Department of Transportation yesterday, found that the project would have exceeded both financial and ridership projections that were first made in 2009.
Data released from the Florida Department of Transportation showed that the operations would have made a surplus of $10.24 million in 2016, the first full year the trains would have run, and a $28.58 million surplus in 2026. Even ridership, which Scott had claimed would be low, was expected to hit 3.3 million riders during the train's first year of operation in 2015-16.
The $1.3 million ridership study was done by the transportation consulting firms Steer Davies Gleave and Wilbur Smith Associates.
Nelson had hoped that the new data would have changed Scott's mind, but Scott stuck to his guns saying he was "comfortable" with his decision.
"I had been briefed on their ridership study, and I looked at other ridership studies, and I'm still very comfortable with the decision I made that I don't want the taxpayers of the state on the hook for the cost overruns of building it, the operating costs or giving the money back if it's shut down," Scott said at a press conference on Wednesday at the Florida capitol in Tallahassee.
With more numbers coming in, Scott's rejection of federal money seems far more political, than anything based on economics or good business.
The rest of the country, of course, seems only too happy to get in on the pie.
Mar 10, 2011
A high speed rail system between Houston and Dallas/Fort Worth would be great. I can see it paying for itself and even making a profit. Southwest Airlines flies this route each way every hour. It's a very heavily traveled route.
This is all unconstitutional anyway... according to the Father of the Constituion, James Madison: "I cannot undertake to lay my finger on that article of the Constitution which grated a right to Congress of expending, on objects of benevolence, the money of their constituents. With respect to the words 'general welfare', I have always regarded them as qualified by the detail of powers connected with them. To take them in a literal and unlimited sense would be a metamorphosis of the Constitution into a character which there is a host of proofs was not contemplated by its creators."
What about a high speed train from Chicago, Illinois to Orlando, Florida? Someone might actually want to ride that. Especially since air service is so uncomfortable and so unreliable.
If you have to float a 30 year $2.4 billion bond at 2 percent to fund this, the interest would be $48 million. Who among you would want to buy a 30 year bond at less than 1 percent
I would love to have high-speed rail here in Florida. But I come from Massachusetts and I remember the Big Dig. Unfortunately I don't think we'll ever know for sure whether this project would have paid off in the end. Oh, for those wondering why build this between Tampa and Orlando? This is the test project -- the overall plan was to get that first stage running, then extend the line to West Palm, Ft. Lauderdale, and Miami.
JohnMcGrew and Hates Idiots are more in tune with my thoughts. If it really was worth doing then it would be great, but its a rape of the taxpayer waiting to happen. It won't work and yes i am one of those smart people some of you are denigrating. I used to live in Florida and voted against the rail. When that sunami hit that island a few years ago i thought it time to leave Florida. That same wave would've inundated the whole state and what would you do for the rail then? Make it a tourist attraction for glass bottom boats? I prefer my vehicle and the freedom (which is every Americans right) it gives me, even tho i would prefer it to be a fuel cell powered electric driven powertrain. People should quit betting on boondocks from the Feds and start betting on themselves.
High speed rail, over 200 mph, is unsustainable. The cost of the trains and in infrastructure is too expensive to make it work anywhere. If you look at the HSR projects world wide, every one of them is a money loser. Now express trains are another story. The legend of the successful European rail system was built in the 1960s, 70s, 80s and 90s on trains that did less than 150 mph. With most of the rail system destroyed in World War II the US rebuilt the European rail system as part of the Marshall plan. With steam trains on US tracks running upwards of 80 mph in 1945, over the next 20 years they built some of the first diesel electric trains that were capable of 100 MPH. The tracks to support that speed were affordable to build and maintain. The rest is history. Express train running at speeds of 80 to 150 mph on dedicated express rails were well received by the traveling public and more importantly for tax payer, profitable. With the advent of HSR the European train systems have been bleeding money. While the trains make for great advertising and movie cameos, the cost of installation and maintenance is killing the once great rail system.
private industry to build high-speed rail can't work when it has to compete against FREE interstates (like I-4), free state highways, free local streets, and free parking lots. as soon as you are willing to pay tolls for per-use of highways, then we can talk about paying per-use fares for train and bus travel. using your same logic for killing the trains and returning federal monies - i call on florida to return every federal dime for its highways and privatise/toll them. that will save billions of dollars too, and save more money than the paltry 2.4 billion the hsr would have cost. either raise the fed gas tax from 18 cents per gallon to something higher and truer to the cost of road travel, or else eliminate free roads and free parking and start tolling per-use.
I think George Will summed it up best last week: The real reason for progressives' passion for trains is their goal of diminishing Americans' individualism in order to make them more amenable to collectivism. To progressives, the best thing about railroads is that people riding them are not in automobiles, which are subversive of the deference on which progressivism depends. Automobiles go hither and yon, wherever and whenever the driver desires, without timetables. Automobiles encourage people to think they-- unsupervised, untutored, and unscripted--are masters of their fates. The automobile encourages people in delusions of adequacy, which make them resistant to government by experts who know what choices people should make.
People, people, people. In my 25yr USAF career I spent nearly 60% of my time in Europe and the Pacific. Most recently my wife and I took a rail vacation through England, France, Italy, Austria, Germany, Poland, & Cech Republic. Trains were fast, comfortable, quiet, we travelled long distances at night in sleeper cars and arrived clean and refreshed early in AM read for the next day's exciting travel. In that 25yrs train travel all over the world except in US has become better and faster. Conversely, we once too a 3-wk road trip Italy, Germany, France, Spain, UK and I was just beat to hell by all the travel and related problems -- particularly when hearing stories about tourist vehicles being prime targets because they travel with more stuff in their car trunks than any local ever does. Cost was a wash. Comfort was won by the trains. Peace of mind also. We here are just too far behind. What says every american family must have three cars? Necessity! Parents both work, kids live away from schools, local transport is a joke. Ride and park lots and then take the train? Carpool? Take a Bus at $4 a ride and no free transfers -- and for that privilege end up 2 miles from work? Don't make me laugh. We have to get weaned from oil and gas we are too dependant on despots overseas and end up politically supporting the wrong governments. Florida deserves whatever it gets now they've decided not to improve their system taking advantage of federal funds, the like of which nobody will see again for decades. Of course in Florida, they could just hitch a ride on a mosquito. They're large enough down there. Chuck
@RaymondMHolt No federal projects being profitable to the states is a ridiculous assertion. One prominent counterexample is the interstate highway system. Parts of it as it is constantly built, repaired, and expanded go over budget. But it has been one of the most profitable exercises to the US, and individual state's economies. You are right and wrong. We can't spend our way out of debt through poor investments. But the ONLY way to fund our way out of the very high debt we have today is to make targeted very smart and financially rewarding investments in the future. Those compounded future returns will get us out of the hole. Petroleum prices will continue to rise in the future as more world competition has financial resources to bid against us. Smart investments kicked off by the federal government and continued privately in nuclear power, heavy and light rail, electric and hybrid cars, among others, will ensure our country is able to maintain affordable mobility and world competitiveness for decades in the future.
Right now you can DRIVE from Orlando to Tampa in 1 1/2 hours. A high speed rail line starting in Tampa (downtown?) Airport to Orlando Airport (logical place to start end, no one stated where it actually would) WITH NO STOPS INBTWEEN AT ALL would then take maybe 45 minutes. Course you would HAVE to be there two hours early to go through security screening, and once you get to either end there would be anywhere from 30 minutes to an hour to then get to where you want to go so that high speed rail trip will only take you 4 1/2 hours to go from Tampa to Orlando. As for jobs - laughable. The SAME companies that now build rail / roads would be the SAME ones to build this. Thus, no real new jobs are created - the other projects are just delayed since only VERY FEW companies can / allowed to bid on these. Thus, no real job impact at all since these people are already employed rebuilding roads / rails already. The ONLY way high speed rail works is if you have start / stops over 300 miles apart and you have a 3 to 5 million population base that wants to ROUTINELY travel to the other city. Then it works, else it sounds good but effectively useless in moving people. A REAL dedicated rail passenger only line from NYC to DC, then to NC, then to Orlando would work - but it would really cost around $35 billion to build it right - and the Government seldom builds anything right anymore. Example: it is going to cost 1.7 BILLION to build a 7 mile rail line here in Portland - and they expect a 90 mile rail line to come in at a 2.4 Billion?
Wow! I am blown away that so many think HSP is anything other than a boondoggle to, again, buy votes from the unions. And of course the Administration says the system will make money. You'd expect something different? As has been said time and again, and it is still a truism, if it were a money maker, private enterprise would already have built it and be raking in those immoral profits and paying exorbitant taxes to government who would think it a cash cow. Actually a better analogy would the Goose That Lays The Golden Egg, which the government would eventually kill in an attempt to get all those golden tax eggs from the "rich fat cats."
No federal project is ultimately profitable to the states. With all the strings attached its not surprise that most states are close to bankruptcy. Scott is the smart one to put an end to federal non-sense. La Hood is doing nothing but wasting our federal tax dollars when we had to borrow to get what he has. WE CAN'T SPEND OUR WAY OUT OF DEBT AND ONLY IDIOTS TRY.
As the sea levels rise, Florida will be under water anyway. Residents who prefer horse and buggy to modern modes of transportation will have the option of moving north to states with a much more progressive approach to transportation or growing gills. Federal investments in Florida are a bad idea. The Governor is farsighted in refusing to waste taxpayers money on what will soon be nothing but a vast underwater aquatic park.
jackvandijk, not only it would be beneficial for the citizens in Florida fifty years from now, but it would create jobs right now... But you know, sometimes those elected smart people just don't want things to get better... on contrary, their agenda fits more for keeping the status quo, high unemployment rates and people suffering the consequences of their elected smart decision makers. US would greatly benefit from a state by state high speed trains system, saving lives we see lost in dummy accidents every day.
About ten years from now, to be repeated twenty years from now, we will see overcrowded skies, airlines charging whatever they like, not flying to the 20 small towns along the logical routes that trains would go. Then and repeating it every ten years, Americans will say, well trains are too expensive, we can drive. Gas will be $5-10 per gallon. Realize (and Google) what the real cost of gas, after deducting all the subsidies, is. But America never can make that decision to look fifty years ahead. Look at the French, they looked about fifty year ahead, installed nuclear power, high speed trains and yes, they had to pay for it out of taxes, but now they are selling the low cost electricity to surrounding countries.
Why not just take the money out of the budget? That would be a decent compromise for the politicians or do the Railroad lobbyists have too much influence. In Ohio the proposed high speed rail was a whopping 45 MPH, hold me back the acceleration is too much for me to handle. I am glad we did not get stuck with that white elephant. Too bad bad politicians can't realize savings and must reallocate the money. I guess it is to easy when it is not their money and they don't feel the pain; the country suffers for their hubris.
even those who get elected easily because voters think they are smart end up showing their stupidity.for their own political reasons they penalize their citizens.
Cost over runs are a given on any major government project. A 5 percent over run would have wiped out those predicted profits and replaced them with costly losses. If the over runs were on the scale of Bostons Big Dig, $3 billion quoted with a completion price north of $14 billion and still climbing as tunnel leaks are still being fixed, those trains would never earn a profit in 100 years of operation.