Florida Governor Rick Scott Rejects Funding for Tampa-Orlando Intercity Rail Project

» Despite its capital costs being almost entirely covered by Washington and plenty of evidence that private investors want to move forward, project is off the tracks for now.

Just days after the White House revealed its ambitions for a $53 billion, six-year plan for an American high-speed rail network, the place where it was all supposed to begin now appears to be out of the running. Today, Florida Governor Rick Scott (R) announced that he would refuse $2.4 billion in federal funds to build a rail line between Orlando and Tampa. The project’s construction would have required $280 million in state aid to be completed, but projections had indicated that the line would cover its own operating costs.

The Obama Administration has funded the project more than any other outside of California and hoped that the scheme, which would have opened in 2016 as the first line in a nationwide network, would serve as a model for the rest of the country. Numerous private corporations — including international conglomerates such as Siemens, Alstom, and JR East — have indicated that they would be willing to pick up the state’s tab and cover construction and operations risks, in exchange for the right to operate the trains.

Yet Mr. Scott has moved to squash the project nonetheless, acting before those companies were supposed to respond to the state high speed rail authority’s request for proposals. This is a shortsighted move that will only benefit others: The federal funding will be redistributed to projects in states such as California and Illinois.

Citing concerns that the project’s costs would spin out of control and that taxpayers would be burdened with operating subsidies, Mr. Scott argued that fiscal prudence gave him no choice. The Governor apparently has no trust in the private companies he claims to laud, failing to give them a chance to demonstrate their interest in the project. He apparently has no interest in offering his citizens the opportunity to pioneer a mode of transportation that has been repeatedly scuttled, in Florida and elsewhere, by the distinctively American ability to ignore the potential benefits of intercity rail.

Indeed, while the Governor’s decision may have been framed in a rhetoric of financial austerity, the hastiness of the announcement and its timing just after the unveiling of the President’s high-speed rail proposal indicates that intercity rail, more than ever, has become a tool for partisan disagreement. Republicans all over the country, inspired by the refusal of federal funds for rail systems by Governors in Ohio and Wisconsin, have rallied against almost every such project. The House GOP budget, which would gut the rail program — as well as transit capital projects — is only a continuation of this crusade.

What does this say about the state of American transportation? Is the status quo, in which the vast majority of Americans get around only by car for short to mid-range journeys, ramping up congestion and increasing environmental degradation, acceptable? Do we have any interest in developing a future vision for our cities or our society as a whole?

Image above: Florida High-Speed Rail route alignment, from Florida High-Speed Rail

358 Comments | Leave a Reply »
  • Ferest

    This may not be as bad an outcome as the cancellation of the Midwest projects. The inherent problems of the Florida project (see Jacksonville Transit Blog) would have made arguing for subsequent projects that much harder. So it’s not catastrophic that the “Disney train” (as it is in its current form) is off for now.

    • Thanks Mr. Scott. California and Illinois appreciate the HSR money and jobs you are shipping from Florida. We’ll show you how to build HSR.

      • Ocean Railroader

        Ilinoise I think are the only people who played the game right and have really built anything in that as soon as they got the money in their hands they right away started ripping up the old tracks and putting in the new high speed rail tracks. The only thing they can do know to save the funding for high speed rail is give 500 million of this to New York and a billion to Illinoise and 500 million to Washingtion state and some to Vrginia and some of the other places. This was what I feared they put to many high speed rail eggs in one basket now I bet Califroinia’s project will fall too I can bet 200 bucks it will fail.

        • Betting $200 is nothing. Californians are betting a $9.9 billion bond that it will succeed. That is why California should get the majority of those redeployed HSR funds with Illinois coming in a handsome second.

          • Ocean Railroader

            Califorian’s rail line could die as fast as Florida’s did in that they didn’t have any railroad ties on the ground so it was dead meat as soon as it came into the Tea bagger’s sight’s. Now if say this rail project was half way done with grading and half the railroad track was done and the tea baggers tried to stop it then they would look like morons for stoping a project that was half done. Also there is a lot of pressure on Califoria in that the feds have been giving them money and more money and grants and billions of dollars but no one not even them and the high speed rail suporters have seen not one railroad tie yet for the whole system which is killing their suport.

            Now granted Illinos high speed rail is not really true high speed rail but a upgraded Amtrak train at least they had the common sense to break ground laying ties and new track as soon as they got the money so even if the Teapots run lose and take over at least they will still get their project done.

            • Peter

              California, unlike Florida, has a Democratic governor (who tried to bring Shinkansen to California in the 1980s), and the Democrats are in charge of both houses of the Legislature.

              They’re a lot less likely to be swayed by Reason/Cato/Heritage arguments.

            • Ocean Railroader,
              I don’t understand your suggestion that California HSR “could die”, based on personal conjecture. These are factual reasons California is different from Florida and Wisconsin and will succeed at HSR:

              1. Its building the right scale of system to get Californians excited; thats why a $9.9B bond measure passed despite a massive state budget deficit. Californians voted for this bond, in part because the media correctly explained that the total financial, societal & environmental costs of freeway and airport expansion would be higher than HSR in a state adding 15 million people over the next 20 years.

              2. The prior governor was very pro-HSR and California just elected another very pro-HSR governor.

              3. California’s US senators, US representatives, mayors, most of its state legislature and Chamber of Commerce are pro-HSR. See http://www.cahsrblog.com/2011/02/california-wants-floridas-hsr-money-unless-youre-jeff-denham/

              4. Californians already represent the 2nd largest Amtrak ridership, and thats before upgrades from the current lame 60-79 mph service.

              5. San Francisco “IS” constructing a massive multimodal transit center to host California HSR, commuter rail, rapid buses, Greyhound, taxis and bikes; San Jose already has a large train station with track room for HSR; Los Angeles has land set aside to expand Union Station for California HSR as well; Anaheim has land set aside for the HSR station and privately-funded Transit Oriented Development to assist with the station cost.

              6. Disney is pro-HSR; plans to build a direct monorail extension from Disneyland into the Anaheim HSR Station.

              7. California unions are pro-HSR and have more clout in state politics than Florida unions — ask billionaire Meg Whitman who lost to repeat Governor Jerry Brown; the like the idea of 80,000 new union jobs.

              8. California now has $5.5 billion in funds to build the spine of the HSR system in fast growing San Joaquin Valley; that work has an independent utility that can benefit existing Amtrak San Joaquin service from Oakland and Sacramento to Bakersfield until the San Jose-Los Angeles segment completes.

              And now if I may, add a little reasonable conjecture. If California gets $1.5-2B of the rejected Florida money, coupled with a little more state HSR money, thats enough to reach Palmdale. And when that happens, HSR has the wind at its back in California.

              Amtrak San Joaquin service, could if it chose to, extend from Bakersfield to Palmdale AND use existing Palmdale Metrolink commuter rail tracks to LA Union Station. Voila – new Amtrak Oakland-LA and Sacramento-LA service running at decent speeds! The bogus “Trains to No Where” argument gets dropkicked in the face of the Washington Post and other misinformed naysayers.

              San Joaquin Valley progress will also put more pressure the San Mateo County NIMBYs to get their act together in time for the new HSR budget to be negotiated.

              I can it feel coming in the air tonight!

              • Ocean Railroader

                If there is not one railroad tie on this rail bed right now it can be cut by the tea cup clowns in that the train is still at the station. I still don’t think it is at all safe not while the Tea party is in congress and they can attack this project on the federal level still in that it still hasn’t been built at all right now it is only a drawing on a map so it can still be taken down and become like Florida.

              • Drewski

                I have to admit, I’m enjoying watching one GOP governor after another try to prove which one is the biggest loon. Who will push a freakishly unrealistic agenda so far that it will do the most stunning damage to his/her state?

                First was Christie in New Jersey, but there was at least a gram of logic in canceling the ARC project since it dead-ended in Manhattan.

                Then there were the Midwestern twins: Kasich in Ohio, and Walker in Wisconsin. Both rejected Federal money for rail because of personal animus, sometimes not even coherent (for example, Kasich hasn’t ruled out taking money for lakeshore line, partly because a GOP state rep is one of the people advocating improvements).

                Now it’s Florida’s turn. There is no logical reason to cancel this line. There have been Republicans who supported this project. No matter. No trains. No trains because trains have become the symbol of a nonexistent socialist agenda allegedly advanced by the Obama Administration. Look who wants trains: all those socialist tree-huggers in California, but of course their softy ways are bankrupting them.

                I hope this refusal holds. I hope California is within reach of funding the new line from Fresno to Palmdale. California has a clear and deep commitment to HSR. Every GOP governor who has killed off a rail project has placed more and more focus on one line, and it’s in California. There’s been no secret that the potential of the California HSR is both larger and more likely to make a fast impact. Nearly everywhere else, there have been conditions and restrictions that limited the potential for rail projects.

                So there’s California HSR, and there are some other improvements, and that’s it for right now. This Administration tried to distribute opportunities across the country, and it has been the various parts of the country which have rejected opportunities. I think that this inadvertent and very unplanned process of elimination will make it much easier to California HSR to make its point. Once CA HSR is up and running, I do expect it to have a major and rapid impact across the country. Florida and Ohio have spent most of the past 20 years electing backwards politicians; let them start to see the consequences of their bad choices. Same goes for Wisconsin and New Jersey, and their respective fits of pique.

              • Ocean Railroader

                This really scares me now in that as more rail projects get killed off more money gets funneled to Califorina then as Califorinia’s egg basket gets fuller and bigger then the Tea Party clowns can knock the funding right out of their hands and the basket falls to the ground and breaks into a billion pieces.

                It looks like Mayland might be able to out smart the tea party clowns in that they have a lovely billion dollar tunnel project has has been disnigned and planned out for 60 million dollars a few years ago and if they get this money they can turn it into a real new tunnel to replace a 1870’s tunnel and if this tunnel becomes real the tea party clowns can’t rip it up out of the ground and turn it into the treasery department so they can give it to AIG or Afiganstiain.

        • Illinois already had ongoing projects in motion. Not a lot of other states were in a position to do as they did, so its not as if Florida or Ohio “did it wrong” to proceed as they did. Indeed, Wisconsin did exactly as you say. Since its a political stunt, it all comes down to whether the TexasTea Party Governor is in a position to pull it off.

          Scott may or may not be able to do so ~ it might not in fact be in his hands to scrap the project, if a veto proof majority of both chambers will fund the already established authority and authorize it to proceed.

          And if Scott’s action goes down to defeat due to bi-partisan majorities in both Florida chambers, that would be a very setback for the strategy to kill off HSR before it can show what it can do.

  • Anthony

    Route should have run from Palm Beach to Miami.

    Who is the idiot that thought this route up ?

    • AlanF

      Because the Tampa to Orlando route was to be the first part of a system which would include a Miami to Orlando route as well. Then an extension to Jacksonville would be the next logical step. The Tampa to Orlando route would use the median strip of a highway so it could be built much more quickly and at lower cost than from Orlando to Miami. Using the median strip of a highway has it’s drawbacks, but any HSR system has to start somewhere. Tampa and Orlando are not small cities anymore.

      • Anthony

        4 million people ride tri rail every year, the market for rail already existed.

        You start where people use it first, not where it doesn’t exist.

        Scott was right to cancel this money sucking boondoggle.

        If LaHood wants to do the Palm Beach to Miami section, I’ll change my tune then. It would be cool to avoid the 95 parking lot for a change and get to Miami in a reasonable amount of time.

        • ab

          Actually the opposite is true. If you wait for people to populate a place before before you add rail, then it’s much more expensive to build the rail because the space for it is so limited, and it will be less effective because the infrastructure will be so geared towards driving. The way to do it is to build the rail first, then build housing around the rail.

          • Anthony

            Rubbish the rail lines already exist.

            It’s called TRI – RAIL.

            You can build over top of the existing rail if need be in sections.

            Then you have additional rail in South Florida, the Mtro, which carries over 60,000 people aday. Everything Tampa and Orlando was lacking.

            Again who was the idiot that thought up the boondoggle ?

            • Woody

              Maybe Jeb Bush? The plans have been in the works for many years, likely decades — how else to explain an Interstate Hwy built with a designed-in median wide enough and straight enough to handle a HSR (or was it another HerSR line)? Then the grants were applied for under Republican Governor Christie.

              This is merely Gov Scott falling in line with the Tea-Bag theme that any and all HSR proposals are bad because Obama favors them. Politics played with all the sophistication of the race for Freshman Class President at Palm Beach High.

              • Woody

                Oops. Funds applied for under Repub Gov. Charlie Crist.

              • Ocean Railroader

                The flise has been lit the middle east and now the fire is eatching the TNT pile known as Arebia and we are going to find out what life is going to be without oil and rail very soon.

            • Derr

              uuuuuh derrrr, you can’t just build it over existing rail lines. The existing rail carries cargo and passengers. Cargo trains wouldn’t be able to use the high speed rail line.
              The governor is an idiot for not jumping on this like crazy.

        • Drewski

          Tri-Rail has some significant problems. Shall we start with the location, which is supposed to be shifted to tracks closer to population centers at some future time? Should we start with the New River Bridge, the steep grade of which has limited options with rolling stock? Florida is notorious for services kindly described as mediocre, in almost every field, and where all service delivery is predicated on 1) a fetish for privatization and contracting and 2) a fiscal environment where nearly everyone in the state expects tourists to foot every bill. It’s a remarkably immature approach to government in general, but then we’re talking about a state which appeals to new residents with a something-for-nothing sales pitch. Floridians can muster the means to solve problems (the multiple toll roads are proof), but they very often choose not to do so. I expect Florida to look for Federal money to upgrade I-4, thinking that this administration will simply acquiesce to the GOP crack-smoking party.

        • The only flaw with the corridor is the lack of an alignment through Orlando, which is why a platform transfer station with Sunrail was the main missing link in the project.

          But as it stands, given the low cost per mile due to existing alignment which allows for both lower construction costs and quicker completion so lower Year of Expenditure budget numbers, there’s nothing else substantially wrong with it. “You should have started X instead of Y” is the standard concern troll that will be fed into public discourse by the paid shills of Big Oil no matter WHERE X and Y is … if they had started with the longer to complete Miami to Orlando segment, they would have been feeding the argument into discussion “Florida should have started Tampa / Orlando, it would get the system up and running much faster and the alignment is already available“.

          • Bruce, it’s perfectly normal to disagree on alignment and think that some projects are stupid or low-priority. The widespread condemnation of the 7 extension, ARC, BART to San Jose, and other cost-ineffective project comes from transit activists, not concern trolls. It’s not anyone’s job to support any sort of transit spending no matter how bad it is.

            • Yes, its precisely because its perfectly natural to disagree on alignments that they employ the strategy of setting forth some alignment that was not chosen as the pretext for attempting to pull the plug on whichever alignment was selected.

              • It’s not “They.” There are a lot more people who honestly prefer one alignment to another, even if it’s for shitty NIMBY reasons, than people who wait to see what alignment is chosen and then oppose it. Hell, even among general anti-transit people, they don’t really talk much about alignment. Cox, O’Toole, Poole, and the rest of the highway shills don’t attack HSR priorities; they make it very clear that they don’t want any trains, ever.

                And if you don’t believe me, check out the profiles of the California HSR opponents. The general-purpose opponents, like Morris Brown, have never really invoked Altamont vs. Pacheco, except to gloat that the lawsuits will delay or end the project. They were against it before Altamont vs. Pacheco became an issue. And Richard Mlynarik and the Peninsula NIMBYs were quite supportive of the project before the HSRA chose Pacheco.

      • John

        They might not be small cities but they definitely are cities that are completely inaccessible without a car. You can’t even get around Disney World without a car! I’m as anti-car as they come but if I was going to the theme parks in Orlando and then to the beach around Tampa, I would do the only reasonable thing: rent a car in Orlando and drive it to Tampa, and I can’t imagine why HSR would make me change my mind. You would basically just be paying for the inconvenience of having to rent two different cars. If you don’t want to drive a car in Florida, my advice is to not go to Florida, which is generally my solution to the problem.

        The same really goes for Miami and definitely goes for Jacksonville. Miami is far enough away that I would consider HSR as opposed to flying, but then again airplane tickets are pretty cheap, and if you have to have a car anyway airports are reasonably convenient, so billions in investment would result in small improvements in terms of price and convenience.

        What makes HSR useful in, say, the East Coast is that in New York, if you don’t have a car then Penn Station is at least reasonably convenient and airports are super inconvenient, so HSR is a huge improvement over your alternatives. Even if you have a car, driving to Newark and back is like getting waterboarded by Glenn Beck. In Florida, you’re basically required to have a car and driving isn’t painful, so the advantage of a centrally located train station is just not there. Also on the East Coast passenger volumes are extremely high and takeoff space at airports is precious; runway space might be scarce in Florida too but it’s definitely not 10^999 hourly flights between Miami and Orlando that are causing the problem. Overall, none of the usual advantages of HSR exist in this corridor. It is insane that the feds decided to fully fund it. I can’t see how HSR anywhere in Florida could make sense, at least not for the foreseeable future. Maybe if they built at least one non car-dependent city there I could be persuaded to see things differently.

        • greylocks

          If the Tampa end extended into Clearwater, St Pete and Bradenton, where beach-going tourists could use it, then it might make more sense. But NOBODY GOES TO DOWNTOWN TAMPA except Lightning fans and people who work there, and these people certainly don’t commute from Orlando.

          Furthermore, anyone who lives in the area knows that if you don’t live in the City of Tampa proper, getting to downtown Tampa, or the airport, is a major PITA.

          If the line doesn’t extend to the beaches, it’s worthless.

          • Woody

            Yeah, sure. If the airport doesn’t extend to the beaches, it’s worthless.

            Picture an HSR station at Disney World looking very much like an airport, with a couple of dozen courtesy vans from various nearby hotels and motels picking up the alighting passengers.

            Nearby, heck, the beach front hotels in Clearwater would send courtesy shuttle buses to pick up passengers in Tampa. Once the passengers are in their hotels, again they can take a courtesy van to the various attractions. I’m sure that Busch Gardens (or whatever it is called now under new ownership) can be reached from several Tampa hotels without need for renting a car.

            And recall the current passenger breakdown on Amtrak. Lots of people don’t drive, can’t drive, won’t drive and they don’t fly, can’t fly, won’t fly. But they still want to get around.

            The HSR line from the Airport to Disney World — and probably even to Tampa — was going to be like one more attraction.”We went to Florida to visit Disney World, and then we took the High Speed Train to Tampa for a day.”

            Foreign operators with experience in the business were not scared off from this line. But the same Tea-Bag experts foaming about so many other issues of which they are so vastly ignorant say it wouldn’t work. But really, they have united in a mob against everything that ni@@er in the White House favors including every single rail project in the country. The Confederacy has risen again — and it holds a majority in the US House.

        • Goober Peas

          It may not appeal to vacationers from the Northeast corridor but the rail line is primarily for commuters who live in the vast area between Tampa and Orlando and have to commute to work.

          Anyone who has driven I-4 knows the nightmare of this experience. It was already too small when it was finished and gridlock and frequent accidents are the name of the game.

          High speed rail was meant to alleviate some of this problem by allowing commuters to take the train to work.

          Also many, many people commute from the surrounding areas like Sarasota/Bradenton, Clearwater, and St. Petersburg to conferences and such in Orlando. I would be more than happy to park my car in Tampa at a rail station and ride the train to the conference areas since I have to go several times a year. Most people I work with feel the same.

          • Anthony

            Wow,let’s just make up stuff as we go.

            People commute from Sarasota and Bradenton to Orlando for work and vice versa. Sure they do.

            Continued requestsd asked of Florida official of proof of these assertions met with silence every time. The rest of you accept that now as a fact with no proof.

            • Woody

              He didn’t say they commute to work daily. He said they often commute (‘travel’ would have been a better word) to Orlando for conferences and such.

            • Drewski

              Anthony, isn’t that like arguing that it’s ludicrous to mention the number of commuters from Stroudsburg PA to NYC? No, their numbers don’t compare to the ridership on the Morris/Essex line, but both the road traffic and the multiple commute bus runs–intercity in scale almost anywhere else–prove the claim. If there is one truth of the Southeastern US, it is that commutes very often run to 50 miles or more each way. Not that the majority of commutes are on that scale, but there are enough to make a difference. The I-4 corridor is very dispersed, but even the low-density landscape it traverses has to be considered in the context of proximity to the single largest tourist draw in the world. It’s not the same as Disneyland’s impact on Anaheim. For these and other reasons, this was a good place for Florida to start. It was also intended as a place to hone the service, so that it would perform even better when extended to Miami.

        • Adirondacker12800

          Millions of people a year fly to Florida from airports all over the Midwest and Northeast and never rent a car. Many many more fly from places even farther away like Europe and never rent a car.

          • Of course. This is the problem with “all people fall into THIS BOX” arguments ~ they are effective if they appeal to people’s stereotypes, but people’s behavior in reality are never as simple as the stereotype.

            Which is why its critical for Big Oil to try to kill HSR or delay it as long as possible, since once people experience it, a majority of their arguments collapse in a heap of underinformed emotion and the arguments become how to do it rather than whether to do it.

    • Tim E

      The same idiots who shared the same foresight of those who started building the interstate highway system in rural Missouri. Oh yeah, I guess that turned out to be a dumb move. Start building a transportation system in a manner that offers the quickest and cost effective means to get it started while still affording the opportunity to tie into a network as it builds out.

      Unfortunately, a not so forward looking governor killed a corridor that has several large metro areas, a world tourist destination, two internatioal airports in Orlando and South America hub Miami, two large cruise ship ports in Ft. Lauderdale and Miami, and congested freeways that is costing Florida millions upon millions in more construction of lanes miles not to mention lost time & productivity & tolls.

      • Anthony

        What are you babbling about ?

        This line didn’t go to Miami, it went from the outskirts of Tampa to Orlando.

        • Woody

          Everybody but you, if that is to be believed, knew that Tampa was Phase One of the project. Phase Two would have linked to Miami.

          Building big projects in stages is a conservative (classic meaning: careful and considered, not hasty or reckless) way to do things.

          When America 2050 issued their recent analysis of potential HSR lines, they explicitly pointed out that Miami-Orlando is the stronger route. BUT the Tampa-Orlando route is quite OK because has (a) unusually heavy tourist traffic and (b) it has ready right-of-way since the Interstate was designed with space for it.

          While by some projections Tampa-Orlando would only about break even on current projections, the whole Miami-Orlando-Tampa route was projected to be a huge success, throwing off substantial operating profits.

          But obtaining funding for the longer Miami-Orlando segment will be difficult — especially after the one-time-only stimulus money deadlines run out. And planning for that route has just begun — nobody has even settled on the “inland route” or the “seacoast” route. So the widely understood plan was to start with the cheaper, ready-to-go Tampa-Orlando segment while preparing to do Miami-Orlando in a few years, after Phase One had shown how HSR can work.

          So Scott has aborted not only Phase One, but also Phase Two. Miami-Orlando was gonna be high priority next time around. Now it goes to the bottom of the list.

          • Anthony

            Nonsense.

            Politiciand and citizens in the Palm beach, Broward and Dade county suggested to build the Palm Brach to Miami section first.

            We have already demonstrated we use it, we already have the itransit nfrastructure.

            Building a systenm hoping for future federal tax revenue to continue building it is stupid and backwards. Build your best first and add to it.

            Now Floridas gets nothing.

            If Lahood changes his mind, and would build the Palm Beach to Miami link first, Scott will as well.

            • Woody

              Unready. They haven’t even decided whether to run east to the Kennedy Space Center area before turning south and running close to the ocean, or to shortcut more directly south from Orlando. The route you claim to favor is “Not shovel ready” — heck, it isn’t even “Sketch on a napkin ready.”

              Of course, in our system, the route decisions, the design work, and engineering are state level. Under Jeb Bush and then Charlie Crist all the work was done to start this thing Tampa-Orlando. And I seriously doubt if your Rebub Govs actually cared very much what politicians from the most Democratic part of the state had to say.

            • It doesn’t matter how many groups of people ready to support a generic corridor if the alignment is not ready to go and the funding is for alignments that are ready to go.

              The Benefit/Cost ratio of Tampa/Orlando work out fine, because the reserved highway median alignment makes it a 160mph alignment for close to the cost of an 125mph alignment, and the line is too short for 160mph and 220mph to be an appreciable difference in transit speed.

              Indeed, the only reason to do it as a 160mph is that its Stage One of a bigger network, and trains running through to Miami and Jax will benefit from the quicker transit to Tampa.

              . It would work out even better with a closed platform transfer station with Sunrail, but even if your TexasTea Party governor puts off the Sunrail, that only postpones it until one of the coming oil price shocks puts it into a position to proceed.

              • The cost per km of the line is the same as that of 220 mph alignments in France, without the reserved highway median.

              • Year of Expenditure 2012-2016? Or historical figures?

                In any event, you keep soapboxing about US rail infrastructure projects being multiples of the cost of comparable projects in Europe, so if the Florida project is slated at similar cost of a French rural 220mph alignment, that stands as concurring with what I said.

              • Both.

                Look, I never said anything about the Florida project’s costing too much. In fact, I’m pretty sure I said the opposite. It’s not the same as being in the same range as an upgraded 125 mph line, unless you think $30 million per mile is a normal price for 125 mph upgrades.

      • Anthony

        Rubbish the PA turnpike built in 1940.

        Ohio turnpike built in 1954

        Indiana Toll Rd built in 1956

        What are you babbling about ?

        • Please be respectful of the other commenters. We’re here to have a reasoned discussion, not a shouting match.

        • He was referring to the construction of the Interstate system, not the construction of earlier separated expressway projects that were later integrated into the Interstate system.

          • Ocean Railroader

            The NEC has a lot in common with this in that it was built in the 1930’s with the idea of being a grade crossing four track wide broadway route for GG1 Locomtives to go over 120 miles on hour and later on in the 2010’s there are active plans to have it become apart of a federaly built high speed rail system.

  • John

    Thank God. This was a boondoggle if ever I saw one that I feel sure would have discredited HSR in the US. Now the funds can go to some worthy project like the Northeast corridor or the California HSR or Seattle/Portland or Chicago/St Louis.

    Actually if they really wanted to build a relatively cheap line from scratch in the Southern US that would be a smashing success they should try to fund a Houston/Dallas line, but my understanding is that Southwest Airlines has gone far out of their way to make sure that doesn’t happen.

    • Andrew

      That was back during the 1990s, Southwest has changed their focus markets and softened up towards HSR in Texas.
      The real problem is getting Rick Perry to accept federal dollars for anything, let alone rail.

      • AlanF

        Besides dealing with Gov. Perry, Texas doesn’t have any intercity rail projects that are anywhere near ready to take construction funding. Texas got $5.6 million in FY2010 HSIPR funding for feasibility studies, service development plans, and environmental work for Dallas to Oklahoma City with potential extension to San Antonio. So, Texas is only at the earliest stages of actual planning and studies. But the initial studies take time, so if the preliminary work can be done over the next 3-4 without attracting controversy, Texas will have some plans in place when Texas has a new Governor who may be more favorable to the Texas T-Bone HSR plan.

    • simple

      It’s far from a forgone conclision that any of Florida’s give back will ever end up supporting rail investment. The House Republocans will fight tooth and nail to make sure that the dollars are completely rescinded and go back to the US Treasury.

      • It is also not a foregone conclusion that the giveback will go ahead ~ a veto-proof majority of the State Senate has written a letter that it does not believe that the Governor has the authority to cancel the project.

      • Nathanael

        Ray LaHood has made it very clear that he intends for funds to be committed well before the US Congress can steal them back. The main obstacles seem to be the FRA and the freight railroads, but neither obstacle applies in California, so I’m pretty sure any money allocated to CA *will* be spent.

    • There’s very good political reason none of the redirected Florida funds should go to the Northeast Corridor.

      We already know the NEC is Mica’s baby and at the top of everybody’s list (except the luddite Tea Party) for future funding. Plenty of moderate Repubs support the NEC, plus extension upgrades to Richmond. Once HSR funding is locked into the Transportation bill, despite the Tea Party, NEC+Richmond will get the majority of HSR funding.

      First, $1.75B to California and $500 million for Milwaukee-Chicago-St. Louis will enable more key milestones for HSR.

      There’s also opportunity for roughly $150M to buy straiter underused railroad tracks in the Piedmont Region at today’s reduced prices. That would strengthen VA and NC’s public support for Richmond-Norfolk and Richmond-Raleigh-Greensboro-Charlotte HSR funding soon afterwards.

  • TomA

    Why would this be a boondoggle? Its seems like the perfect route. Lots of people who don’t need to have cars (tourists) riding the train, plus business people going between the two cities.

    Plus you get the whole line for a relatively low price. Look at what Amtrak is suggesting for upgrading Newark to Philly (which still isn’t the whole section there, or what California is going to spend to do the first, relatively useless part of their network.

    • John

      Wait have you been there? One would be extremely foolish to go anywhere in Florida without renting a car; I don’t know anybody who has ever gone there without doing so (unless they were visiting someone who had one). I just made a (probably excessive) post above about why this would be such a boondoggle, but the short of it is, you can’t even get around Disneyworld without a car. I just don’t see why tourists would want to rent a car in Orlando, turn it in, pay to take a train to Tampa, and then rent another car in Tampa, when they could just drive and save themselves the hassle. Plus tourists would be well advised not to go to Tampa if they like beaches: they should drive (in their car) south to somewhere less crowded with nicer beaches, which I think is what they usually do (I’ve never talked to someone that vacationed literally in Tampa). As for business people, right now they just drive the 90 minutes, and they would definitely keep doing so even if there was HSR. Again, you need to have a car at both ends, and they already have a car, and the trip is short. Going to Miami would make more sense in principle since it’s at the edge of car range, but demand is low on that route and the car-culture greatly reduces the usefulness of HSR as opposed to flying, so if I was going to build HSR corridors, that route would be about number 83 on my list after all the places where HSR actually makes sense.

      I’m speaking as someone who loathes the “car-required” culture down there. But empty HSR trains wouldn’t change it, they’d just be an embarrassment. Even I would never take it, and I don’t even own a car (I live in Manhattan).

      • David

        If you’re just going to Disneyworld, you don’t need a car, they have an excellent free transit system. I’ve done it a few times.

      • Felipe

        This is non-sense. I was in Disney when a kid we didn’t use cars. You could get a bus or a taxi to all relevant destinations: airport-hotel, hotel-disney. Inside disney itself you can’t drive anyway. HRS could have made a journey to Tampa attractive, although the hotel swimming pools were so great that I doubt it would be worth getting out of there.

        • Anthony

          How did you get to the ocean ?

          Daytona ?

          Cape Canaveral ?

          You walk all those places ?

          • Ocean Railroader

            If the high speed rail line would have reached Cape Canaveral I could have used it to go deep into Florida and then get back on my cruise ship that pulled into port.

          • Woody

            From what friends have told me, it is possible to spend a week in Orlando — Disney, Universal, Sea World — without ever needing the ocean, or Daytona (what’s there anyway?), or even the John F. Kennedy Space Center. And if you get the right motel, it’s an easy week without ever driving a car.

            • Anthony

              Just what every tourist want to be – a motel rat.

              Daytona s 50 miles NE of Orlando

              Cape Canaveral is 50 miles East of Orlando

              The Atlantic Ocean is 50 miles East of the Orlando, noboidy goes to Florida to see that, nobody.

              What state has the largest number of rental cars versus residents, take a wild guess ?

              People drive From St. Augustine to the Keys and everywhere in between.

              • Woody

                Largest number of rental cars, you have already explained that: No transit in Orlando or Tampa or St Petersburg or Jacksonville (yeah I know they have a toy thingie) or West Palm Beach or Ft Lauderdale, and not very much even in Miami. The regular Amtrak service is also extremely limited. So yes, the way the state is now, I’d rent a car.

                Unless perhaps I’d signed up online for one of the “Walt Disney World Resort Vacation Packages”, which seem to include all the complementary shuttles I could ever need. Apparently Disney is not into car rentals in a big way. (Maybe they have figured out how much “free parking” costs, since they would have to pay for it.)

              • And of course, those shuttles would be replaced by free tickets on the HSR and courtesy shuttles from the Disney HSR station, as soon as the HSR system is running, for a substantial saving to Disney.

      • Phil Compton

        John,

        As a New Yorker you clearly know nothing about the Central Florida region. Our challenge in Tampa would be to get tourists across Tampa Bay to the best beaches in America in St. Pete & Clearwater without them having to drive through what Forbes last year called the worst commute in America in Tampa. We’re working on that end of it here.
        Where would the NE be without transit? We’d like to have it here, too. NYC would never have gotten its built in the 19th century with the type of leaders we have in our governor’s mansion and the U.S. House’s majority.

        • Woody

          And Phase Three of HSR Miami-Orlando-Tampa was to extend across the bay to St. Petersburg-Clearwater.

          But Scott has aborted that plan, too.

      • Eric G

        I agree with you. Even given the fact that Orlando-Tampa was Phase 1 of a line that was to be extended to Miami, there’s other parts of the country that need HSR more than Florida does, and where HSR would get more use. Florida can get HSR when Floridians see its success (and benefits) once HSR is up and running in the Northeast, Midwest, and California.

        I *DO* have to say though that there *ARE* two pockets of pedestrian-friendliness car-less utopias in Florida: Key West and South Beach. :)

  • PeakVT

    I’m not all that enamored with the project, but Scott appears to have acted out of pure spite for Obama and the Democrats.

    The CAHSR supporters are certainly cheering the news.

    • Anthony

      California will cancel that money pit as well.

      It will be on the ballot this fall to kill it.

      • aw

        That would be even more idiotic than this decision. CAHSR has the potential to be a project that really demonstrates the utility of HSR outside the NEC.

      • Is pathological lying a job requirement for you folks? There’s been no work on trying to send it back to the polls again.

      • Anthony,
        I know you are an anti-HSR plant, so there is no reason to respond to your malicious lies.

        • Anthony

          LOL.

          Build it where it makes sense.

          Palm Beach to Miami.

          Pittsburgh to Chicago through Cleveland – Toledo – South Bend

          • Ralph

            Other than the fact that you appear to be from South Florida what makes Palm Beach to Miami any different from your logic on why Tampa to Orlando shouldn’t be built? As far as I know Miami isn’t exactly a great transit city either.

            On top of that could you elaborate on why a Pittsburgh to Chicago line would outperform a SF to LA line.

            • Anthony

              Looks like you have never been to Metro Dade Gold Coast area then. We call I-95 the world largest parking lot.

              9,000,000 ride the Miami Metro Mover yearly.

              That’s 9 MILLION

              http://www.miamidade.gov/transit/mover.asp

              The Metro mover connects to the Metro Rail, which has an average of 60,000 riders a day

              http://www.miamidade.gov/transit/rail.asp

              The Metro Rail has joint station with the TRI RAIL which agsain carries 4,000,000 yearly.

              So your right, the METRO DADE AREA – nobody uses it.

              What does ORLANDO have for a system already in place ? They Don’t

              What does TAMPA have for a system already in place ? They don’t.

              • By any international standards, 60,000 per day is puny. In California, many HSR opponents as well as transportation experts voice concern that the connecting local transit is poor – and in LA and SF the daily rail ridership is measured in the hundreds of thousands.

                Not that Orlando and Tampa are any better – but the line would primarily serve tourist traffic, not regular intercity travel. (And as a result, I’m somewhat skeptical of it – though, apparently the ridership projections are in line with real-world ridership at the Eurodisney station.)

              • Anthony

                The line has….just one line

                Again Tampa has nothing, Orlando has nothing.

                There is more to Florida than Disney World.

              • You keep defending Tri-Rail as if you think 4 million a year is a lot.

                It’s a 70 mile commuter railway which runs more like LRT frequencies through a densely populated corridor of 4 or 5 million people. But it carries a puny fraction of the amount a good light rail line does in places like Houston.

              • Anthony

                It’s one line, what part of that can’y you not see that it is, and it’s heavily used, connecting all three airports and all the major population centers already.

                What does Orlando have ? – Nothing

                What does Tampa have ? – Nothing

              • Wad

                Alon wrote: “In California, many HSR opponents as well as transportation experts voice concern that the connecting local transit is poor.”

                Yet California’s three Amtrak state-supported services are the second, third and fifth busiest corridors in the nation. People are somehow finding the trains.

              • Adirondacker12800

                and all the airports in California are empty because the mass transit to them is nearly non existant…

              • Don’t shoot me, I’m just the messenger. I’m personally neutral to negative toward the no-connecting-transit-in-California argument. The point is that if 350,000 daily riders on BART aren’t considered a lot, why is Tri-Rail even mildly relevant?

              • Wad

                Anthony wrote:

                What does Orlando have ? – Nothing

                Orlando-Deltona-Daytona Beach CMSA has 2.7 million people, making it the No. 17 CMSA in the U.S.

                What does Tampa have ? – Nothing

                The Tampa Bay MSA has 2.7 million people, the No. 19 MSA in the U.S. This is the larger of the metros, as the Orlando CMSA is the combination of the smaller Orlando-Kissimmee-Sanford, Deltona-Daytona Beach-Ormond Beach and Palm Coast MSAs.

                Not cool to dismiss five and a half million people as not worthy enough to be counted.

              • Anthony

                Why you lump Daytona in with the mix of Orlando is beyond me. From the Atlantic Ocean to the first station on the boondoggle would have taken 90 minutes.

                Your Tampa Bay MSA also takes in St.Pete and Clearwater. These people were going to drive to the Tampa station, then get out of their cars to ride a train to Orlando ?

                Do you know how preposterous of an idea this is ?

                Obviously not, you posted it.

              • If you are saying that Miami needs local rail transport, certainly, but the topic at hand is HSR, which is intercity rail.

              • Wad

                Anthony, the consolidated MSA of Orlando means there’s some sort of economic connection between Daytona and Orlando, such as commuting ties, that makes it relevant to count the MSAs as a unit.

                These people were going to drive to the Tampa station, then get out of their cars to ride a train to Orlando?

                Do you know how preposterous of an idea this is ?

                Obviously not, you posted it.

                I can answer it myself, thankyouverymuch. Beggar the question with me and I enforce anti-panhandling laws. :>

                I say this with a straight face: Yes, I expect central Floridians to leave their cars and take a train if one were available. Certainly if it offered a speed advantage over driving.

                Californians do it — enough to have 3 of the top 5 rail corridors in the nation. Illinois does it. North Carolina, which has supplemented its in-state service, now does it as well. Pennsylvanians, Oregonians, Washingtonians, too.

              • Anthony

                LOL

                What speed advantage ?

              • Wad

                Anthony, the plan was for high-speed rail, no? The trip would have been faster than driving along I-4.

                It would have made the core travel time savings substantial. At the same time, I-4 was still going to be there. High-speed rail doesn’t make the highway obsolete, nor do the tracks call for demolition of any lanes.

                Travelers would now have two options to travel I-4: car or high-speed rail. Any sort of rail service would gain enough passengers to give both train riders and car passengers a faster trip. The drivers who switch to HSR would be displaced traffic. With fewer cars on the road, speeds would slightly rise until growth would bring more drivers to I-4 and reduce speed. Then again, with a train available, traffic growth would be far less than if I-4 were the exclusive option.

                If you meant the last-mile problem, that’s already solved right now. Orlando and Tampa, both being major tourist markets, already have the mobility infrastructure in place to solve the last-mile problem.

                Orlando and Tampa have bus systems, Lynx and HARTLine, plus taxis, airport vans, and private shared transportation (such as a hotel that can pick up passengers with their own van or bus). Orlando and Tampa also have a flood of rental cars.

                Some passengers may want to bring along their bicycles. Others may have friends or family who have cars to pick them up at the train station.

                This is available right now.

                HSR may also open up a market for car-sharing, bike rentals and even pedicabs or rickshaws.

                Anthony, I sense you are assuming that if you find some time disadvantage, then you assume that humans are rational to the point of operating on IF-THEN statements.

                Economists and engineers like to keep things strictly numerical largely because it’s the only way they can understand the world. Bring in qualitative arguments and they are at a disadvantage. They’ll just hand-wave it because they are difficult or impossible to quantify.

                Yet there’s also the qualitative advantages of rail. Namely: the ability to get up and walk around, the ability to do a productive or recreational task while not driving, not needing to stop for food or restroom breaks, the comfort of travel, as well as social interactions.

                Anthony, there’s a latent market for these trips that rail will satisfy. Also, in the U.S., we have a tradition called “rule of law” that allows for checks and balances against solipsism.

                LOL this.

          • Why Palm Beach to Miami and not, say, Orlando to Miami?

            • Anthony

              Palm Beach to Orlanda on Leg Two.

              Build where the passengers exist right now.

              4 million people – 4,000.000 RIDE TRI RAIL from Palm Beach to MIAMI yearly.

              That is 4,000,000. And TRI RAIL is SLOW.

              • To make a profit, HSR needs to charge intercity fares, and make more widely spaced stops than commuter rail. As a result, it never gets as much ridership as parallel commuter lines. High-speed commuter service is a nice addition, but can never form the core market. In fact, the only HSR line in the world that loses money, the Javelin service in Britain, is precisely the only one that’s geared toward commuters and not intercity travelers.

              • Anthony

                It could charge more and could have less stops.

                Currently it takes roughly two hours on TRI RAIL to travel from Palm Beach to Miami , making commuting to work unbearable.

                Do it a half hour and you’re talking. Do it and avoid the congestion and parking, absolutely.

                Then build north on it.

              • Ralph

                I can’t help but laugh at this point. If I was a social scientist I would write a paper declaring I had discovered a new breed: the reverse-NIMBY or OIMBY. Only-in-my-backyard.

                To reiterate my point. If Metromover and Metrorail carry a combined 90,000 people a day that only leaves about 2,375,00 people in Miami who don’t use public transit as well as the 1.8 million around Ft Lauderdale and 1.3 million around West Palm Beach who don’t have access to a fixed rail transit system to get around. In the context of any of the northeast cities or even places like LA. Your argument that Miami is more deserving than Orlando-Tampa because it moves 90,000 more people on transit is borderline ridiculous.

                PS Sorry for the name calling but you seem to single-handedly hijacked the discussion.

              • Anthony

                Again, we are comparing the line from Orlando – to Tampa.

                Once people get on the ground, then what ?

                In the Palm Beach, Broward, Dade corridor the options already exist, there is nothing more to build.

                You don’t put up a house, only later to come back and put in the foundation. You build the foundation first.

                3 airports can be connected to each other, one of which is a major international port to the Carribean and South America.

                They wanted to build the wrong leg to begin with and killed the project in the process.

                They were idiots.

              • Adirondacker12800

                Many of Amtrak’s busiest stations have no mass transit to speak of. Neither do most airports. People manage to get to them.

              • Anthony

                List 5, that have absolutely no mass transit.

                See ya next Christmas.

              • Anthony

                All the TOP 25 do.

                http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_busiest_Amtrak_stations

                What else are going to make up ?

              • Adirondacker12800

                …no mass transit to speak of…

                I’m not gonna go look. Last time I went and looked at the CDTA’s website for service to Albany-Rensselaer I immediately understood why it has a parking garage. The bus comes a few times a day. There’s a second route that only serves the station in one direction. You can get there but to get back to whereever you came from you have to take a cab or walk.
                Nor am I going to look at DART’s website to find out whether or not the busy routes still run once an hour. Effectively they do not have any mass transit. Feel free to argue that a bus a few times a day is effective mass transit.

              • Providence has a couple of bus routes serving the Amtrak station, and that’s about it. New Haven has a little bit better service, plus a couple of Yale shuttles. Neither city even bothers to shovel the snow properly from the sidewalks, which should tell you all about how much they care about the non-motorist. (Dear future employer: none of this should be taken to mean I’m not going to be in residence in your fine New England town. I’m sure the area around campus is plenty walkable. Also, unlike New York, Providence has affordable rents.)

            • Alon wrote,

              “In California, many HSR opponents as well as transportation experts voice concern that the connecting local transit is poor”. Thats only a partially true statement.

              If California HSR ran to San Francisco’s 4th & King Caltrain station today, it would have 2 rail transit connections, taxis, nearby restaurants and SF Giants baseball park one block away. Transit is already mainstream in SF, so you needn’t drive while there. Its one the reasons Europeans and Asians love visiting.

              If California HSR ran to Los Angeles Union Station today, it would connect to one subway, one light rail, Amtrak Pacific Surfliner, 7 commuter rail lines, LAX airport shuttles, Downtown shuttles, bus rapid transit, taxis

              By late 2019, when LA-SF HSR is likely to begin operation, LA will have extended to its subway to Westwood/UCLA, light rail to Santa Monica, completed a downtown connector that brings another Light rail to Union Station, increased commuter rail frequencies. Another light rail may stretch from South Bay-LAX-Expo Light rail and likely stop at Wilshire Blvd subway line that goes to Union Station. A streetcar line will circulate around downtown LA. Carrying as many or more passengers than rail transit in Philadelphia, rail transit will be mainstream in LA.

              By late 2019, SF will have HSR in the Transbay Transit Center having as many transit connections DC’s Union Station today and only one block from a BART subway station and 3 blocks from the attractive and useful Ferry Building. SF’s new Muni subway will connect 4th & King Caltrain-Convention Center-Union Square-Chinatown, and the Convention Center station will only be 2 blocks from Transbay Transit Center. A light rail or bus rapid transit from Downtown out Geary Blvd will be running. If Obama’s transit funding is increased, Geary Blvd will get the preferred light rail. BART will extend several stops closer to downtown San Jose. SF will be carrying more passengers than rail transit in Boston.

              Transit connections at the big nodes of the California HSR system (SF & LA) will be a huge plus when it opens. Moreover, San Diego and Sacramento are expanding their transit connections from their downtown train stations too. So the 2nd and 3rd legs of California HSR will have many more transit connections by 2022-25.

              Such forecast transit connectivity factors were under-weighted in the America 2050 HSR Study.

              • I forgot to add … Caltrain from San Francisco-San Jose is being electrified by 2014 and its service will increase 110 trains daily. Caltrain will share the same platform at California HSR in the Transbay Transit Center and at SFO Airport Transit Center. SF is building more bike lanes and the Transbay Transit Center is almost certain to have a bike rental shop. And there will be a bike lane onthe new Bay Bridge span.

                Sounds like all the transit connections anyone could want.

              • Thomas, the point isn’t that California has zero connecting transit. It’s not even that there’s little connecting transit infrastructure: if you count number of lines with direct connection, or total rail route-km, then LA and SF look pretty good by the standards of Lyon in the 1980s, or Shin-Osaka today. Rather, the point is that those services don’t provide very good service, or don’t connect to most destinations, leading to vastly less ridership.

                I’d personally counter that criticism and say that even Californian cities have reasonable transit if all you want to do is go to the downtown train station, but it’s not how almost anyone else thinks about it. And the low ridership leads to low frequency, which the commuter agencies have no intention of improving. So even though the infrastructure available is extensive, the service may not be.

              • Along wrote
                “the point is that those services don’t provide very good service, or don’t connect to most destinations, leading to vastly less ridership.”

                You make a fair point about LA in the 2019 scenario, because LA rail transit numbers will likely be 600K daily.

                But I completely disagree with your point concerning the SF Bay Area transit frequencies and destination access by 2019. All the BART Caltrain frequencies will increase. A lot of new riders are coming with new Third Street Muni light rail up Chinatown. If they get the Light Rail, instead of BRT funding for Geary Blvd, they will pick up 75-90,000 daily riders plus access to Lincoln Park, Seal Rocks, and the Cliff House .

                About 90% of SF destinations will be within 3 blocks of Rail Transit, Cable Cars or Ferries and all will run frequently, plus have HSR access at the Transbay Transit Center by 2019.

                Include BRT access to Marin County and Ferrys across San Francisco Bay, plus BART access closer to San Jose and thats a whole lot of new access, plus comprehensive access all over San Francisco.

              • Hey, I’m totally with you on Geary rail. If anything, I’d argue for a full subway there – the corridor has the density to support it. But the Central Subway will be slow and has almost no support among the local transit activists, who view it as a sop to Chinatown business interests.

                For the record, the Lyon Metro has 700,000 weekday riders. This is in addition to the tram network, which I don’t know the ridership numbers for. Yonah, do you know?

              • The French Wikipedia claims the system has about 160,000 daily riders, with 200,000 expected in 2012.

              • Thanks. I will now bang my head against the wall for not checking French Wikipedia first.

              • Alon,
                We can deep dive into SF Bay Area and Los Angeles transit improvements when Yonah next Posts those topics. For now its essential that we focus on how much of President Obama’s proposed Transit and HSR budgets are Congressionally approved in 2011 for the 6 year authorization cycle.

                He is unlikely to get all $119B for Transit or $53B for HSR. But increasing gasoline prices, the American Society of Civil Engineers Infrastructure report card, the political clout of tax donor states, and bi-partisan shared interests among urban Demos and urban Repubs in Congress should help him negotiate for 60-80 cents of each requested dollar.

                If its 80 cents/dollar for Transit ($95B) and HSR ($42B), Transit upgrades will enable 1.5X-2X patronage increases by LA, SF Bay Area, Baltimore, Seattle, Portland, St. Louis, Richmond, Charlotte, Atlanta, Norfolk and substantial numerical increases by NYC, DC, Chicago, Boston and Philadelphia by 2017. That would have a huge positive impact on the Northeast, California+Las Vegas and Milwaukee-Chicago-St. Louis Express HSR projects and meaningful impact on Chicago-Detroit, St. Louis-KC, Pacific Northwest and Piedmont Emerging HSR projects.

                If its 60 cents/dollar for Transit ($71B) and HSR ($32B), tough cuts will be made to Transit projects and Emerging HSR mega-regions.

                To all the folks who think, $53B/6 years is a lot to invest in HSR Phase 1, Obama-LaHood really low-balled it. USDOT Secretary LaHood estimates it will cost $500B to build our interstate HSR network by 2035. We haven’t summoned enough national willpower to make that $500B/24 years average $21B/year yet.

                But in a dream scenario where America re-acquired willpower to strategically build infrastructure, HSR Phase 1 funding should be getting $80B/6 years to upgrade those Emerging HSR mega-region lines to Express HSR lines. We could quickly ramp from the $9B/year average Obama requests to $16B/year without wasting a dime.

                In addition to shovels hitting the ground in late 2011, there’s plenty of ROW to purchase at historically low prices in the mega-regions named earlier. ROW purchases now prevent cost overruns later. Instead of 80% of funds invested on Northeast and California Express HSR, there would also be enough funds to start building Express HSR in these high-merit corridors that have political support:

                Eugene-Portland-Seattle-Vancouver
                DC-Richmond (+Norfolk ext.)-Raleigh-Charlotte-Atlanta
                Milwaukee-Chicago-St. Louis-Kansas City
                Chicago-Detroit

      • Glen

        Smoking Cali Grass??? NO it Is NOT..if anything this fall the project will be just months away from groundbreaking!

      • Tim E

        CA voters gave it 10 billion in bonding. My bet is the Chinese will give it another 10 billion in greenbacks once the first rail is being laid. Eventually businessmen who make their money from producing items in China will take their political contributions somewhere else if Congressman Mica doesn’t deliver another 10 billion. To do that, he will have to follow through with money to NEC and its extension marching towards Atlanta. The loser in all this? Florida.

        More importantly, FL just set back it infrastructure another four years, eight if they re-elect him. Just in time for $150/barrel oil that will sink the car dependent FL economy. Even its white sand beaches won’t be enough to overcome a hit that FL will take without a plan to offer transportation alternatives to its congested freeways.

        • Anthony

          Interstate 4 Between Orlando and Tampa is not congested, what are you talking about ?

          • Joe

            Clearly you don’t live in the area. I-4 is infamous for congestion. People who live in Lakeland in order to “split the difference” where one spouse works in Orlando and the other in Tampa would beg to differ. Tampa has sprawled east. Between Downtown Tampa and Plant City it is a parking lot during rush hour.

        • Nathanael

          Florida is going under the waves as far north as approximately Tampa thanks to global warming (the elephant in the room which nobody likes to talk about), so I am actually kind of glad that the funds may get redirected to other states which *aren’t* going to be flooded. Gov. Scott is still an idiot, though.

          Apparently we have to wait a week to see who gets the money though. I’m rooting for NY (being in NY) and California (if they can get to Palmdale, they’re golden…)

          • Adirondacker12800

            If Florida ends up under water so will many parts of the NEC….

            • Check Google Earth – most bits of the NEC that aren’t 10 meters above sea level are a few bypassable segments in eastern Connecticut, the low bridges they’re planning to raise, and the tunneled sections.

              • Nathanael

                Yeah. The Florida HSR route was going to be high enough too, the problem was that massive flooding in residential and commercial Tampa would kind of hurt it.

                Which is a bit of a problem with the NEC too; DC, Baltimore, Philly, and Boston are all flood risks, as are parts of NYC.

      • There is no viable movement to kill HSR in California.

        • Anthony

          Keep telling yourself that – LOL

          • BLambert

            And you keep asserting without evidence that there is. Why not use the boundless power of HTML and provide a link to a reputable news item which outlines what you’re talking about.

            Or are you too busy screaming that there’s no money for rail except for where it would benefit you personally?

          • Ian

            In California, the only real opposition (if they can be called that) to HSR would be the wealthy residents of the Peninsula suburbs.

            And even then, they are not against HSR itself. They are merely against the elevated HSR track layout.

            • Anthony

              You sure about that ?

              The first portion they have projected to build will go through some of the most productive farmland in the country wiping out production, irrigation ans supply.

              http://articles.latimes.com/2010/dec/27/local/la-me-high-speed-rail-kings-county-20101221

              Major corporation that rely on them are now lining up against this.

              Lawsuits from here to eternity.

              Watch for Delmonte and other food processors, they wil be bankrolling the voter initiative.

              • Adirondacker12800

                How much productive farmland has to be taken for highways and airports of equal capacity?

              • “Some” is a little bit of an overstatement. Total farmland to be taken is measured in the single digits of square kilometers, which is about 4-5 orders of magnitude less than the total available farmland in the Central Valley. The imperceptibly small effects of HSR on sprawl would more than counteract any such takings.

              • Ocean Railroader

                The Repubiliacans want to take the high speed rail money and widen Route 99 between the same two cities to six lanes that will take far more land then any of the ship seed rail routes drawn up on this map.

              • Ocean Railroader

                I find the high speed rail taking out farmland one of the dumbest things I have heard of in that the Republicans want to widen Route 99 to six lanes wide between the two cities and anytime you build a four to six lane wide highway it can eat up five times as much land as a railroad track. In fact you see a lot of wildlife next to railroad tracks vs highways which are littered with dead deer and other animals.

          • Drewski

            Anthony…your words are very much beginning to make me think you live under a bridge–a road bridge probably–and you collect a toll from every crossing.

            The 4 r/w is not perfect. There’s been no effort to conceal the fact that the 4 corridor is literally a test line, but it’s a test line which is fully expected to yield real-world results.

            Anthony, you find every way in the world to argue against the 4 corridor. If you know anything about Florida, really know Florida, then you know that the reason the 4 corridor is the first HSR in FL is precisely because it’s NOT Miami-Orlando. Also, if you really know Florida, you know that Tri-Rail has major problems of its own. You probably know that there is a long-term plan to move Tri-Rail service to another right of way, assuming that the r/w is available. You probably know that ANY plan for true mainline passenger service on Florida’s east coast will eventually involve massive grade separation; south of PB or West PB, that will most likely mean elevated rail. Planning for that hasn’t even begun in real terms.

            Ohio has stronger rail potential, but it doesn’t have the near-term growth potential of the 4 corridor. Anthony, I live in a city where old rail infrastructure is a daily reminder of what we can’t manage to do 60-odd years later, and you’re busy nitpicking a line which would be a welcome first step in dragging Florida life out of a parking lot. But, somehow, you don’t seem to want that. If I’m wrong, please tell me where I’m getting you wrong. If I’m right, it’s no difference, but please say what it is you want this line to accomplish if you have any desire to see it built.

            • Anthony

              LOL, you’re a hoot.

              You don’t spend hundreds of million on a test line, this is why it was killed.

              • What do you think is the appropriate cost of a test line?

              • Anthony

                I don’t understand what a ” TEST ” is needed for.

                It’s not as if we don’t know trains run, and given the right equipment and track they can run very fast.

                If I was the lead planner for HSR in Florida and would have two seperate lines.

                Start with a line from Miami and heads due north to Jacksonville. This also takes in the explosive growth counties of Brevard and Volusia along the way.

                Then the secondary line that runs from Tampa – Orland to the cape area, for connections to the Jacksonville – Miami line.

                http://www.merrittislandflrealestate.com/map.htm

                This would bring in nearly 80% of the population in Florida within a half hour of a stop.

                The panhandle would be out of the loop, but they do not have the population density to support it right now.

              • Adirondacker12800

                Test has a myriad of meanings. They can’t take delivery of the trains and hand the keys over to random people off the street. The engineers have to be trained. They cannot be fully trained in France or Japan or wherever. You also need to train the mechanics who will be maintaining the trains. And the track workers who will be maintaining the tracks. They have to start somewhere, I-4 is reasonably cheap, will have reasonable ridership and can be built quickly.

              • Anthony

                What ?

                I thought you were supposed to provide a list of the busiest train stations with out mass transit ?

                Everyone is waiting.

              • Adirondacker12800

                I responded to you in the appropriate place. Not my problem if you can’t find it.

              • Anthony

                They don’t exist.

              • If “Transit” means “any rail transit that’s not Amtrak,” then the top station is Albany, which ranks 9th. It has less connecting transit than the Disney monorail, for what it’s worth.

        • Ocean Railroader

          There is as along as the Republcians and tea party are out there they can kill it at the federal level unless Calilfroina starts laying track right now even if it is only a 20 mile section of high speed rail.

  • Brian

    So speakers at the RNC in Tampa can point to the “boondoggle” stopped there. Meanwhile, an opportunity just opened up for the main speaker at the DNC in Charlotte to point to where that money may now partially go instead.

    Thank you Florida for giving the Mid-Atlantic states (VA & NC) of the New South a shot at now becoming an extension of the NEC.

    • Ocean Railroader

      Vriginia is very lucky in that we got a governor who doesn’t mind high speed rail and we got a rail department looking for rail funding. Now they should try and send half of this money to North Carolina and Vriginia in that we could really get get things rocking with a billion dollars towards our great system.

      • Tim E

        Agree Ocean Railroader. Fortunately, Virginia like NC realize that the vast majority of the states GDP is generated in the metro areas like Richmond, Raliegh-Durham, Charolette and that they require an infrastructure that goes beyond adding another lane mile nor does adding another lane mile improve their energy efficiency. Spending more energy to move goods and people means more cost means less competitiveness in a global economy.

        While a strong road network is needed and the country has one. It has also left us completely dependent on imported oil as the energy source that drives the movement of people and goods. HSR is an alternative transportation mode that can make use of internal energy resources. Like a Duke gas fired or nuclear power plant. Or say on west coast, a PG&E solar array. Or say in the Midwest a coal fired or wind turbine. The benefits of reducing wealth draining imported oil far outweigh the cost of getting the US transportation policy back on track, figuratively and literally.

      • Buckeyeman

        And Virginia’s Governor is Republican, no less.

        • Ocean Railroader

          What I’m glad about our Governor is that he loves to and wants to built several muti billion dollar high widening and new highway projects but at least he is not out to go after Amtrak or high speed rail and general. Such as even though he doesn’t nothing for or says anything about for or agnist passanger rail to me that is a good thing in that it shows he is not after it as a enemy.

          Amtrak is still going to be extended from the NEC to Norfolk Vrginia as part of a 83 million dollar project to improve railroad tracks and built a new Amtrak station. This new Amtrak station is near a place that is with in three miles of a spot where criuse ships like to come in every now and then.

      • DC-Richmond-Norfolk will be part of the Amtrak Northeast Regional upgrade due to forwarding thinking VA governors who laid the groundwork.

        Repub governors of South Carolina and Georgia could also learn an infrastructure lesson from the current Repub governor of Virginia. You can stick to historical party ideals without hurting your state’s future transportation infrastructure. In the 21st century, GA and SC governors should join their fellow VA governor and Democratic NC governor in understanding the need to be part of Emerging HSR Phase 1 in order to upgrade in Express HSR Phase 2, where the big transportation benefits will ripple down from the NEC upgrade in Phase 1.

        If the SC and GA governors grasp that lesson as a GA-SC-NC-VA voting block, they can negotiate Obama’s help getting $53B/6 years (or more) in return for DC-Atlanta built as an Emerging HSR Phase 1 corridor featuring 110 mph top speed, 80 mph average speed, 12 daily trains, more ROW purchases and high platforms at Richmond, Raleigh, Greensboro, Charlotte, Greenville and Atlanta.

        The history of great transportation infrastructure for economic growth should give them plenty of motivation. In the 20th century, Hartzfield-Jackson Airport and 3 interstate freeways helped elevate Atlanta economically above all other southern cities. Without the transportation infrastructure, Atlanta would never have hosted the Olympics, nor would Atlanta attract as much business growth today.

        But If the GA and SC governors don’t wake up quickly, Emerging HSR Phase 1 will only extend from Richmond to Charlotte.

        • aw

          There’s no hurry, ThomasD. Get it built to Charlotte and there will be pressure to extend the higher speed piece southward. In the meantime, SC and GA can work on planning.

  • Brandi

    Well sadly I think this will be the end of HSR nationwide for the most part. It has become a red/blue issue now. Every time a republican is elected they will cancel any transit or rail projects claiming it will save money. Since most projects will span more than one administration this makes it unlikely outside of any solidly blue states. In fact it doesn’t even speak well for the NEC. Christie will probably try to stop any rail project there unless it is entirely funded by the federal government including the operation and maintenance. Republicans really don’t understand the benefits that a cost/benefit analysis show. At least this reveals the sham that Republicans support PPPs. There was many companies interested in taking over the state’s share and guaranteeing the state no need for subsidies. The fact that Governor Scott didn’t even wait for these responses to come in really shows what a farce Republicans liking PPPs is. I think the Obama administration should anti-up clarify what a sham this rejection is.

    • John

      I think this happening is a sign that it was already a red/blue issue. I think in places where it makes more sense like North Carolina, Virginia, and Georgia (or Texas if they can talk Rick Perry into it) it will hold up better, and people will see this issue as less about being partisan and more about finding projects that make sense. But I guess I’m just thinking wishfully.

      • Brandi

        To some degree it was already a red/blue issue. But at the same time many Republicans supported infrastructure investment as a way of encouraging business. For example, Charlie Christ was in support of it and he was formerly a Republican. I mean the route wasn’t the best starting place but at least it was a start. It made sense cause the ROW was already there and could be utilized quickly. I think the problem is now that it is a way to become more popular with the new Tea Party types. The best way to show your cred is to reject money for your state so you can bash Obama and the Democrats. This allows you to gain more attention on the national stage and increases your chance of being elected to a higher office. Most these guys are very power and attention hungry and they want to be heard. I mean the fact that he didn’t even wait for the study he was supposedly waiting for with updated numbers or for the responses from interest companies shows how political of a move this is.

        • Brandi,
          I wouldn’t worry about Blue/Red issues. Over the next 6 years, HSR and Emerging HSR just need job-creating milestones in 220 mph California and Milwaukee-Chicago-St.Louis to couple with operational upgrade successes in Boston-DC, DC-Charlotte, Chicago-Detroit, and Seattle-Portland-Eugene.

          • Nathanael

            I’m not worrying about ‘red/blue’ issues for another reason. In the “bluer” states, the Republicans are discrediting themselves by their actions (Christie in NJ and *especially* Walker in WI, who I expect to be recalled); the end result will be the death of the Republican party in those states, or possibly its reformation into a splinter “Sane Republican” party which isn’t insane.

            In the “red” states, the Republicans will trash their own economies, there will be mass out-migration, and they will become irrelevant.

            Unless the Republicans can use malapportionment and gerrymandering and fraud to retain power in blue states or at the federal level, you’ll just see California reaping the benefits of HSR and Florida shrinking. More problematic is the Chicago-NYC service, where I can’t figure out how to get it around Ohio unless we all relax about border security and let it run through Canada.

        • Ralph

          I’ve never really understood the Right-Wing argument against either the initial cost or operating subsidies or potentially poor traffic.

          The US has a proud history of building under-performing, even nearly useless, highways and airports solely for economic gain, politic gain, or increased mobility for a few people. Everything from major interstates across unpopulated areas to single lane highways to access industrial parks with no customers. I can provide numerous examples within an hour or so of where I live. Start with the biggies: let’s try Bud Shuster’s dream of Interstate 99 from nowhere to nowhere in Central PA. Or Corridor H from Nowhere, WV, through less than nowhere to nowhere, inconveniently located at the Virginia state line. On a more personal note, once upon a time my uncle was very, very influential in state politics and had a several mile long road built, for several million dollars, whose only purpose is to get to the local airport outside of town. The airport, which was also rebuilt with his influence, frequently serves just a few planes a week and hasn’t had commercial flights in my lifetime.

          Those highways cost money to be maintained and constructed yet I don’t hear a backlash among the local or national tea party about the sections of those highways that are still being built or calls to stop plowing the snow on them, etc.

          I’d like to try a little what if problem and think a bit outside the box. Let’s assume that instead of High Speed Rail that we’re trying to stimulate the economy through road building. Now lets say Florida was awarded funding for a new 2.4 billion dollar interstate between two of the smaller cities in Florida. I’ll go with an interstate between Cape Coral and Port St. Lucie through Okeechobee because those were the two cities I saw first, but it really works for any two cities in Florida. Now any one traveling from Cape Coral to Orlando or Miami already has a faster route via other Interstates. The only people it really serves are those traveling between destinations within maybe 50 miles of each end point and a few people that live in between. Now do you believe Rick Scott would have canceled this project?

          • Wad

            Ralph, this is my theory. It’s a lot of philosophical mumbo jumbo, but if you’ve had any exposure to any kind of philosophy (or even psychology) classes you might get it.

            You remember T-shirts that said “It’s a [group here] thing, you wouldn’t understand”? Today, you could put right wing in the brackets to complete the thought.

            The events of the past decade have led to the world as we understand it turned upside down. Could you have ever imagined, say in the 1960s and 1970s, that the logical end of the self-esteem movement and identity politics would turn out to be today’s Republican majority?

            Conversely, it’s today’s modern liberals and progressives that are more preoccupied with elitism, economy and order.

            Did you ever think you would see the day when the race and religion of people who were the beneficiaries of America’s political and economic hegemony now co-opted victimhood as a means to reclaim their hegemony?

            Well, here we are. And you don’t understand because you don’t share the tribal bond of a common understanding. Just as stupid people can’t fake intellect, cerebral people can’t fake feelings or sensory experiences.

          • Ocean Railroader

            West Vrginia and Vrginia have a five billion dollar four lane wide mountain expressway called the Coalfields Expressway they are trying to build though the middle of nonewhere in Vrginia’s mountains by reusing old coal mining strip mining sites and they have already spent over a half a billion dollars on this beast which will one day be over 120 miles long. In my view I think this thing is kind of a waste of money and will most likely never be finished.

            Here is a video showing the emptyness of the highway.

    • FG

      Cost/benefit analysis is irrelevant, it’s all about ideology. Public investment and infrastructure don’t fit into it.

    • On the other hand, it is a bipartisan coalition of legislators that are supporting the effort to defeat Scott’s decision and press ahead with the project, its a bipartisan coalition of state legislators supporting it in North Carolina, Virginia, Illinois, California and elsewhere.

      Part of the issue is the relative political clout of the business wing of the Republican Party versus TexasTea Party wing … since HSR is good for business development and property values in smaller population areas served by stops lying along the corridor, it is not a real urban / outer-suburban divide issue, but it does suffer as a side-effect of the ideological propaganda created in service of the urban / outer-suburban divide issue of local passenger rail.

  • Darth Yoda

    Houston to Dallas is one of the better city pairs for HSR considering population, terrain, flight trips, and stop distance.

    There have been talks that the Japanese may get a Hou-DFW route going without any help from the Feds or the State. IMO, constructing and operating HSR via private corporations seems to be the better option with our massive federal deficit spiraling out of control.

    California and Illinois can be the model for a government constructed and operated HSR system. I hope Texas can be the model for HSR without taking money from the already burdened taxpayer.

    • John

      I completely agree! I hope they can work that out, although now that this money has been freed up I’d completely support its use in ‘lubricating’ that deal. Unfortunately my understanding is that there have been backroom deals by Southwest Airlines to prevent that route from happening. Combined with their light rail system, Texas really has an opportunity to move toward a sustainable transit structure here, and if it’s privately run and profitable so much the better!

    • Peter

      Texas would actually have to go to the effort of developing a concrete plan, which they haven’t exactly been doing lately.

    • Woody

      Well, Perry does have plenty of experience of giving the right of eminent domain to seize private land for foreign builders of toll roads. So maybe he’ll let foreign companies take private land for their rail projects too.

    • If net Federal debt well under 100% of GDP is “spiraling out of control”, what do you call private sector debt at 250% of GDP? Chicken feed?

      That is the elephant in the room that the Corporate Republicans and Hedge Fund Democrats are trumping up the fictitious Federal debt crisis to make sure nobody pays attention to the real problem and takes actions that might stop the siphoning off of income from the real economy to service that massive debt burden.

    • Drewski

      And here is the problem with that notion. If you follow the concept of economic evolution as measured by import replacement, then you can easily see how foreign build/operate is no long-term advantage.

      The US has a huge problem. We import far more value than we export. We’re by far the worst in the world for that. If we refuse to address our domestic issues, and instead we invite/allow/beg foreigners to fix these matter for us, we have not only exacerbated an unsustainable outflow, we have also reinforced a form of economic colonialism. It’s also described as an extension of deflation.

      If Japan imported bicycles, then replaced imported bicycles with domestic product, that’s an example of import replacement. If Japan used the bicycle replacement to develop a motorbike and then automobile industry, Japan replaced imports and created high-value exports.

      A French- or Japanese-built HSR line in the the US is ultimately a bad idea unless it’s very clearly specified as a test/demo project. The US has specific market issues, but there’s no reason public or private money can’t accomplish the goal. If JR or SNCF set the terms, the US will always be beholden. If that sounds like petty nationalism, then look up the number of US-made cars sold in Japan (or Korea) in the last year, for the last 20 years. We can use a helping hand, but we have to wear our own Pull-Ups and learn how to be big kids. Now.

  • David Oleesky

    A rare breed – a politician with some common sense. The proposed route didn’t even go to the centre of Orlando! The UK government should take a leaf out of his book and cancel HS2. Some limited rail expenditure may be appropriate in the few densely populated parts of the USA, but I don’t understand President Osama’s propensity to fritter away money that the US government doesn’t have.

    • Donk

      If he cited the poorly-chosen routing as a reason for shutting down the project I would have some respect for him. But he just gave the usual anti-HSR talking points.

    • Glen

      We fritter away a Billion dollars a day to make sure Chevron and BP oil is taken care of in the Middle East I think we can afford HSR as a way of travel between certain dense regions of the USA since there are 300 million of us.

      • FG

        It sounds like the Saudi’s have been overstating their oil reserves – peak oil may actually be coming (I am still somewhat skeptical of it, but oil IS finite as a resource).

        • Anthony

          In 3 years algae based oil wil be online, and will be produced at $ 50 a barrel.

          http://www.wired.com/autopia/2009/05/one-billion-gallons-of-algae-biofuel-could-flowing-by-2025/

          In the past 18 months every major oil producers is nowe a heavy investor in this…because it works.

          • FG

            Er, no, that’s not what the article says. In fact, the article makes it look like it’s an iffy proposition.

            • Anthony

              Ya think this is the only article ? LOL

              http://www.syntheticgenomics.com/media/press/71409.html

              Do you know CUBA is sitting on sas much oil as the United States has in reseveves and they are desperate to use US technology to drill for it ?

              Do you know Brazil has just discovered massive quantities of oil ?

              Which one the talked of HSR ‘s will take me to the grocery store when gasoline is 200 a gallon ?

              • Ocean Railroader

                Dude the world is running out of food right now we can’t spare the farm land to turn food in to fuel. If I was going to cut some things out of the buget I would kill the $0.50 cents a gallon subdisty on Ethonal in that it is reatting up food production right now and seems to be doing fine by itself with them putting in 10% mix of it into the US gas suppy. It would also free up food production for thrid world counties and counties who can’t farm their own food.

          • Anon256

            Oil futures for February 2014 are currently $99 a barrel. If you are convinced oil will be $50 a barrel in three years, why aren’t you out making money with this knowledge instead of sharing it with us?

            For my part, if the people who bet on oil prices for a living don’t think they are likely to fall, I would guess that they aren’t likely to fall. (Though for the same reason I’m skeptical that peak oil will happen as soon or as suddenly as some people here seem to think/hope.)

            • Anthony

              Half the people lose and half the people win on futures contracts.

              Obviously you’re not an investor.

              I said in 3 years they will be able to produce algae oil at a cost of $ 50 per barrel.

              What part of that do you not understand ?

              • If investing is anything like driving and gambling, 90% of the people think they’ll win on futures contracts.

              • Anon256

                Currently half the people (weighted by money) think that oil will cost $99 a barrel or more in 2014. The number who think it will cost more than $50 is presumably a lot more than half. If many people thought that it would be possible to produce oil for $50 a barrel in 2014, they could make a great deal of money selling call options to those who think it will be $99, and would keep doing so until the futures price was much lower.
                http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Efficient-market_hypothesis

              • Anon256

                @Alon: Surely very close to 100% think they’ll win overall. What other possible motivation could they have for investing?

              • aw

                For people and companies which actually use futures contracts, instead of just speculating, it can be a hedge against even higher prices in the future. Part of Southwest’s profits at the time other airlines were losing money was canny (lucky?) use of fuel futures.

          • Nathanael

            Algae based oil is very tricky, because it’s a form of farming, and a hard form. You have crop failures: diseases, weather impacts, invasion of alternate low-yielding breeds, nutritional issues, etc.

            It *will* achieve commercial viability, but there’s no way it’s going to be at $50 a barrel, not for sustained periods, not any time soon. (Maybe during bumper crop years, but the bust years will make up for it.) For quite a long time to come biodiesel from waste vegetable oil or crop wastes will be cheaper (incidentally, expect a mini-boom in that when it becomes cheaper than petroleum, as it will soon with oil price spikes).

            Sure algal oil will soften the impact of peak oil, but inefficient gasoline-based transportation systems are still going to hit the wall.

            • Drewski

              The price of oil is almost secondary. If anything, cheap algae-based motor fuels would prove that our Defense Department is largely a rent-a-cop for the oil industry, which means we’re not only suckered for the direct expenditure, but we’re suckered out of seeing the opportunity cost of driving and the consequent ability to tax on that cost. There’s also the inability to develop our own rail network because we’re busy subsidizing an economic model with only the barest roots in the US. Finally, Anthony is busy arguing the legitimacy of this model. The model can change, and changing the model is no different than the mercantile stances which are taken by Japan, China and (South) Korea every day.

              There is another factor, easily demonstrated by Toronto. A gallon of gas in Greater Toronto currently runs roughly US $4.25/gallon (or more). It has no significant impact on traffic volumes, compared to lower-cost gas in places like South Florida. What does constrain traffic in Toronto is the ever-shrinking number of parking spaces downtown. All the parking lots are being replaced by condo towers, and the number of new garage spaces is far smaller than the eliminated spaces. Some will always choose to drive, but ridership on TTC and GO is strong and consistent (and starved for capital improvements, whether more frequent train service or exclusive streetcar lanes). Toronto parking is nearly equal to New York’s in cost. road capacity hasn’t diminished, but parking has, and there’s not much point driving if you can’t get out of the car. This is a growing truth across North America–parking is worth less than the economic activity which generates it. The new downtown Torontonians are increasingly non-drivers; they’ve moved downtown to be able to walk to stuff.

              Florida has latent demand, but Florida is so backwards that it ignores passenger rail demand to go pave another piece of land. These are people so stupid–and they are stupid–that they are too concerned with more sprawl to stop saltwater incursion into their drinking-water aquifer. If you’re more concerned with pavement than your own drinking water, then yes, you qualify as stupid.

    • Woody

      Fritter away money — cutting taxes on hedge fund managers with annual incomes of a billion or more a year — Billions, with a capital B. But the Ayn Rand cultists think the taxes on Billionaire hedge fund managers are too low. So a free ride for the very very richest, cutbacks for regular Americans who might want to take a train. A shame and a disgrace that it has come to this.

  • Gray

    Interestingly enough, though, the Republican chair of the House transportation Committee (also from Florida) seems genuinely pissed at Scott here. To quote from an article in the LA Times:

    U.S. Rep. John Mica, R-Winter Park, issued a statement saying, “I am deeply disappointed in the decision to not move forward with the Orlando to Tampa passenger rail project. This is a huge setback for the state of Florida, our transportation, economic development, and important tourism industry.”

    He said he had already asked the governor to reconsider his decision.

    • And now there are 5 mega-regions supporting HSR.

      IMO, $2.4B should go to California. California should kick in $0.5B more to take the Bakersfield line to Palmdale. Until the rest of the funds are allocated, it extends existing Amtrak San Joaquin service from Oakland and Sacramento to Stockton-Modesto-Merced-Fresno-Bakersfield-Palmdale.

      http://www.amtrak.com/servlet/ContentServer?c=AM_Route_C&pagename=am%2FLayout&cid=1241245650084

      That will eliminate any concerns about independent utility of the system. Once at Palmdale, Amtrak can extend San Joaquin service to Los Angeles in the interim. Once the $53B of HSR funding is approved (or whatever amount is negotiated) in the budget negotiation process, California’s next awarded HSR funds should be big enough to extend the line from Fresno to San Francisco by early 2017. That makes sense because the Transbay Transit Center (under construction) will be open.

      I hope DC-Richmond-Raleigh-Charlotte gets rolled into the Northeast upgrade for $30B. That would ultimately produce a a major 185-200 mph Boston-Charlotte route.

      Since the Wisconsin governor stated he would not object to Chicago-Milwaukee upgrades that make Amtrak Hiawatha operate more profitably, I hope that Milwaukee becomes an extension to the 200-220 mph Chicago-St. Louis project. With 3 state support, it stands a better chance getting $7B/6 years USDOT money + $1.5B local match money (my est.) to complete that project.

      Lastly, based on the actions or inactions of the current governors, it suggests that Florida, Texas and Ohio may get no HSR funds before 2017.

      • Ralph

        This does make the most sense if California can actually build it for 2.4 billion. In all probability it would probably be a better use of the money than in Florida.

      • MrTemecula

        If California’s high speed train gets to Palmdale, then the Desert Xpress from Las Vegas will surely be green-lighted. Californians love their weekends in Vegas.

      • Nathanael

        ThomasD, do you have a price estimate (from the CHSRA, for instance) for getting from the current funded position just-north-of-Bakersfield to Palmdale? Remember, the CHSRA can kick in bonds with only a 50% match, so if they get 2.4 billion in federal money, that’s 4.8 billion they can spend without further action by the state legislature. If Bakersfield-Palmdale costs $3 billion, the feds need only give CA $1.5 billion and it can be built… leaving more money for other projects….

    • Buckeyeman

      There is NO CHANCE of Florida’s Governor recnsidering whatsoever.

      • Anthony

        NO chance on the Tampa to Orlando route. He does not believe the projected passenger figures and neither does anyone else in Florida.

        Build the Palm Beach to Miami section first, where ridership already exists and he’d be inclined to move in that direction.

        • Ralph

          Huh? Can you point to any source saying anything of the sort? Since it appears he canceled the problem out of pure politics I can’t imagine he would support another project in another area of the state?

          Not only that, but is it even possible build a 220 mph line heavily populated corridor like Miami to Palm Beach for 2.4 billion dollars? Do any plans exist for right of way, stations, etc like they do on Tampa to Orlando?

          I have serious doubts about a number of aspects of the Tampa to Orlando line but let be realistic here.

          • Anthony

            Did you even read what jhe has been saying about the Tampa to Orlando line ?

            The main crux came down to the dubious passenger figures whicjh does nort believe and the residents of Florida do not either.

            We live here, we know whats possible and wahats not.

            Ther first leg was not possible and would have been a money pit.

            Where did you come up with a 220 mph line, that was never proposed in Florida. Let’s jus m,ake stuff up as we go. Maybe people will accept it as fact.

            • “Not only that, but is it even possible build a 220 mph line heavily populated corridor like Miami to Palm Beach for 2.4 billion dollars?”

              “Where did you come up with a 220 mph line, that was never proposed in Florida.”

              You mean, you are arguing in favor of doing the Miami / Palm Beach corridor badly? If its the first stage of a Miami / Jax corridor, it damn well better be in in the 125mph to 220mph class of service, that’s 300+ miles line of sight, and obviously longer in terms of route miles.

              Or are you quibbling about whether the speed limit will be in the 2G Express HSR range of 160mph or the 3G Express HSR range of 220mph? Obviously if Florida has reserved highway median alignments, the cost savings justifies running at slower speed in those segments, but if you are building a new alignment, given that the major portion of the cost would be common to either 160mph or 220mph, I would like to see the case for restricting it to 160mph on those segments.

      • There is, however, a chance that its not actually his decision ~ that he overstepped his authority, and does not have the power that the corporate CEO’s that pull his strings take for granted in a chief executive officer.

  • orulz

    I’m about as big of a HSR supporter as the next guy, but something about the Florida plan just didn’t “feel” right. But for the egg on the face of HSR in general, I feel almost relieved.

    Any line on where the $2.4b will go?

    I’d love this money to get poured into the Richmond to Raleigh corridor of SEHSR. That one plans trains running at initially 110mph with eventual upgrade to even higher speeds after electrification and conversion to lighter weight rolling stock. EIS and Alternatives analysis is underway, with an alternative selection due sometime this year. This might be just about the only project out there that’s far enough advanced to still start construction by 2012 and meet the ARRA deadlines.

    Costs were estimated at $3.7 billion, so $2.4 billion would cover roughly 2/3 of that.

    Word is that NC and VA (as well as WA) are having trouble signing their agreements with the FRA. Basically, the FRA is staying that the agreements the states have in place with the host freight railroads are too kind. However, unlike the projects for which money already awarded to NC/VA, this plan involves an abandoned railroad that will be purchased outright by the state(s), rather than a freight railroad that is currently in active use.

    But perhaps this will all go to California. A lot of their grants have already been signed. Are there any other projects that are in the running?

    • DBX

      That’s saying something if NC and VA have agreements that are “too kind” to the freight railroads. The Illinois agreement essentially gave the farm to Union Pacific (freight gets priority, no extra slots for passenger rail for now despite the big increase in line capacity, only way we get a big increase in slots is with double-tracking), so if the NC and VA agreements are even worse, does that mean the freight carrier is not even obligated to provide slots to the passenger trains?

      • Nathanael

        The NC agreement is not particularly kind to the freights, though that is because NC actually owns the line and Norfolk Southern pays them for access. Perhaps, however, NC is overly generous considering the ownership; NC seems to accede voluntarily to passenger-hurting requests by NS (such as suspending the midday train during trackwork, rather than suspending freight runs) even though it doesn’t strictly have to.

        The VA agreements are arguably too generous to the freight carriers, certainly much more generous than NC’s agreement. But then VA doesn’t own the line. (The obscene part is that they used to and they sold it off.)

    • jim

      Centralia to Raleigh construction costs are a little under $1.6B according to the DEIS (it varies according to which alternatives are chosen per segment, but if all the most expensive alternatives were chosen, they’d add up to $1.581B). I don’t know if that includes buying the S-line RoW from CSX. It may not include comm and signaling, either.

    • AlanF

      Would love to know what LaHood and the FRA managers are thinking. I suspect LaHood will wait a few weeks before announcing any re-allocation of the stimulus and FY2010 funds to give Walker a chance to change his decision if the business community gives him too much grief.

      The Ohio and Wisconsin HSIPR stimulus funds were redirected to the projects that had been selected but not fully funded. This time they may have to select some new projects or applications, but related to the projects or states that got some funding. Projects or states that could put the money to use?

      PA – eastern Keystone corridor. PA submited a $490 million stimulus application to upgrade the 104 mile electrified line from 110 to 125 mph max speeds and fix a lot of things up. PA only got $26 million to close 3 grade crossings and PE work.

      CT – the New Haven to Springfield MA corridor got $100 million less in FY10 grants than CT applied for.

      MI – got less than they asked for to buy 135 miles of track from NS for the Chicago – Detroit corridor and upgrade the track back to acceptable speeds. Amtrak owns 95 miles of the route already and would provide public ownership of most of the Chi-Det corridor, opening the way for true HSR alternatives.

      NY – Empire service corridor. NY was asking for $3 billion plus to turn it into a 110 mph corridor all the way from NYC to Buffalo. A couple of hundred million more would not hurt.

      Southeast HSR already discussed – a strong candidate for more funding because it will connect the NEC to the south.

      Pacific NW – Oregon did not get much HSIPR funding before. Almost all of it went to WA.

      Finally the NEC – a lot of 100 year old or older tunnels and bridges on the NEC are in need of replacements. No shortage of places that need work to improve NEC capacity and trip times.

      • Anthony

        All of these state require a 20% match in state dollars, they are all broke.

        • AlanF

          The stimulus funding does not require a 20% state match. For the FY2010 applications, CT put up a 50+% match for the $220 million federal request. CT only got $120 million, so granting CT the additional $100 million is not an issue. VA just passed a $4 billion transportation funding bill, some of which is transit.

          So perhaps, most of the $800 million of FL FY2010 money goes to California which has the bonds for the 20% and the stimulus money get more widely distributed to 4 or 5 states.

        • Ocean Railroader

          Vriginia could rock and roll in that we do have funding and are not broke

      • Woody

        AlanF, nice rundown.

        More to say, of course:

        “PA – eastern Keystone corridor. PA submitted a $490 million stimulus application to upgrade the 104 mile electrified line from 110 to 125 mph max speeds and fix a lot of things up. PA only got $26 million to close 3 grade crossings and PE work.”

        Actually, the $26 mil was for *planning* to eliminate the last three grade crossings. Most of the $490 mil would actually build the crossovers. (Think about it: Overpasses are like bridges and interchanges, you can’t do even one for $26 mil.) If they’ve been scrambling, maybe PA will be ready now to really spend the money on the crossings within the stimulus time frame.

        Of course, the Keystone Corridor would benefit immensely from the proposed $7 billion speed-up of trains between Newark and Philly, cutting 15 minutes from every Keystone run. Take another 15 minutes out of the Philly-Harrisburg section and you’ve got an hour less on each round trip.

        Then, PA will need more than $490 to upgrade to 125 mph, though that will help a lot. But the state has a Repub Gov, and he will be under tremendous pressure to put partisanship ahead of his state’s best interest.

        “MI – got less than they asked for to buy 135 miles of track from NS for the Chicago – Detroit corridor and upgrade the track back to acceptable speeds. Amtrak owns 95 miles of the route already and would provide public ownership of most of the Chi-Det corridor, opening the way for true HSR alternatives.”

        Michigan got enough to buy the route, but nothing to upgrade it. Hope the sale has been finalized. If so, this line would be another great place for one of Florida’s spare billions. Chicago and Detroit are “the two largest, closest Metro areas outside the NEC.” So I’d say this is the most deserving Midwest route, well ahead of Chi-Twin Cities.

        Michigan’s new Repub Gov ran in the primary as “the not-crazy one” and managed to defeat a field of crazies. Hope he will not bend to pressure to conform to the Tea-Bag rage against rail and Obama.

        • AlanF

          “Actually, the $26 mil was for *planning* to eliminate the last three grade crossings.”

          No, $18 million plus some state funds is to close the 3 grade crossings. Quoting the PA application: “The project consists of constructing a bridge and closing the grade crossing at Newcomer Road, constructing an overpass over the railroad at Eby Chiques Road, and eliminating the grade crossing at Irishtown Road by creating parallel roads to alternate crossings.”

          Short two lane rural bridges don’t cost that much. And one is being closed with parallel roads. Only a step towards upgrading the corridor, but clears the way for track upgrades. The $490 million covers restoring a 3rd track from Paoli to Atglen, replacing 1950s era interlockings, signal and electrical upgrades, and high level platforms at 2 stations.

          One advantage the Keystone East would have in getting stimulus funding is that the work could start fairly quickly compared to construction on freight corridors.

          • Woody

            Thanks for the correction and the details. I feel better about it.

            So now the main hurdle to serious Keystone Corridor improvements could be a new Republican Gov, who will be heavily pressured by Tea-Baggers and the fat gods of hate radio to follow the other lemmings off the cliff.

            The Michigan, Virginia, and Pennsylvania projects are all deserving of more support. But for now HSR will be on firmer ground paralleling the San Andreas Fault than depending on Repub politicos.

            • “The Michigan, Virginia, and Pennsylvania projects are all deserving of more support. But for now HSR will be on firmer ground paralleling the San Andreas Fault than depending on Repub politicos.”

              Ironic, but so true. If only they had their pitch fully together for 200-220 mph service just after Obama got elected. Illinois anticipated to at least concept pitch a 220 mph, so they got more money from St. Louis-Chicago, even though Richmond-DC and Harrisbug-Philly have technical merit as extensions to the NEC. Now Illinois has more credibility as they put real money on the table for Express HSR.

    • Ocean Railroader

      The abnodoned S Line Railroad is over a 100 miles long rail bed with no houses in the way of it and there are very view people along it mainly woods and cows. I’ve seen some plans for it and they want to remove every grade crossing between Petersburg and the North Carolina state line.

  • Andrew

    Well, regarding the environmental effects of HSR, it would be a boondoggle in Florida anyway, because the whole peninsula is supposed to be flooded by the end of the century, right? XD

    • PeakVT

      Heh.

      Kidding aside, sea level rise is mostly a problem near Miami.

      • Ocean Railroader

        That was a cool map and it looks like if even two to three meters of sea level rise it might be a good time for washingtion DC and congress to really bail themselves out. In that alone would two two to three trillion dollars in damage to our county alone.

        • PeakVT

          The 5 Bos-Wash cities are all seriously at risk. So is the Bay Area. Check out that region if you haven’t. Also, read this draft paper.

          • The Northeastern and West Coast cities have some at-risk parts; Miami would be completely obliterated by a few meters’ sea level rise. Only a few coastal regions remain completely flat far beyond the water line – but those tend to be extremely densely populated, e.g. Shanghai, Mumbai, and the Ganges Delta.

          • Andrew

            Fascinating map! Miami is going to need a seawall. :P
            What I find really interesting is that the center of St. Peterburg, FL, is still above water even after a 14 m sea rise.
            There’s also going to be a whole lot of cities that can become ports after this sea level rise.

          • Nathanael

            Thanks for the references, PeakVt.

  • jon

    we’ll take that money up here in the northwest… 170 miles between portland and seattle and both cities have decent existing transit that is growing further (including serving the train station very well). and best of all there is support from the public all the way up to the governors. let florida pass on the money, its a wasteland anyway of transplanted over-sunned geezers about to croak and shady scam-artist fly-by-night companies.

  • Andrew

    On a more serious note, other than political symbolism and timing, this cancelation might be a good thing in the long run. That plan is to HSR as Tri-Rail is to commuter rail.
    Florida’s really bad at making rail lines, right?

  • AlexB

    Wow. He turned down an offer of basically free, state-of-the-art infrastructure. This is just bizarre.

    Whether you like or dislike this particular project, today is more than about whether it gets built. Smaller government is not just a talking point or theory to Republicans any more. They drank their own Koolaid. It’s a statement of war: Republicans are not just interested in cutting as a measure of fiscal prudence, they are willing to hit the self-destruct button on anything to make their point.

    We have to defend more than just this rail project in Florida, we have to defend the very notion government can and should plan and execute projects that make our lives easier and contribute to our economic advancement.

    • jon

      they dont care, theyre all old, they wont be around in 20 years… so why invest in this country when you can use that little bit of money that would have gone to improving our country to play a few extra rounds of golf or buy more foreign made tchotchkes. its the younger generations who are f’ed, we arent going to have the standard of living that past generations have had and there is no interest in investing in the US to perpetuate the prosperity for future generations.

      • Woody

        Not all are old, oh no. Many are zombie-like cultists. They read Ayn Rand back at the fraternity house and haven’t read another book since then. Who needs to read more books when one has explained EVERYTHING, sort of the way Karl Marx had it all worked out for his cult followers back in the days.

  • Regardless of whether this is a good transportation project or not, this cancellation seems very silly from the governor’s point of view. The state had to pay only for a tenth – that means that the state taxes generated by the influx of money into the state due to the construction itself might actually be higher than the cost to the state. Especially if some PPP happens, in which case the state pays even less.

    Plus the construction of the line represents jobs. And any infrastructure project could potentially represent more business coming into the state.

    • Anthony

      It’s not that silly.

      Just like Wisconsin and Ohio, Florida was required to operate this boondoggle for twenty years.

      The pie in the sky fantasy ridership projections disappear when you look behind the curtain.

      • Looking behind the curtain, I see hundreds of people working untold numbers of hours over a period of decades to assemble and analyze the data over and over again. The routes that were selected for funding have come up at or near the top of the heap in study after study. They’re not always perfect routes, and need connections and continuations to work the best, but they would generally hold up on their own.

        The Wisconsin line was likely going to be the first leg in a link to the Twin Cities. Planning for the continuation is still underway, and public meetings were being held at almost the same time that funding was getting sucked away from Wisconsin for the Madison extension. Sure, the line to Madison would have lost about $7 million per year for about 5 years, but the worst case projection I’ve ever seen for the line after it reached the Twin Cities was that it would have a $20 million surplus each year.

        • Nathanael

          I believe that Walker had to pay back more to the federal government in already-expended state funds, due to cancelling the line, than it would have cost to run the line in Wisconsin for 5 years. Then, of course, the lost business, lost tourism, more local money going to foreign oil companies, and the Talgo plant is going to shut down and move. States pay more than $35 million just to attract a manufacturing business, Walker deliberately chased one away!

      • 2 billion dollars! free! PPP! jobs!

      • jon

        the cascades will turn a profit on operations at full build out. it just needs money to speed the train up and add more trains a day… that in turn makes it more attractive to ridership while lowering operating costs (more paying passengers moved per hour).

        we’ll take the money up here in the northwest, we are already half way there having already put in about $600 million in the last 15 years. the current goal is reliable frequent 90mph service between PDX-SEA but with more money we can go to the next step of 150 mph service.

        • Jon,
          How much additional funds are required to get Eugene-Portland-Seattle up 110 mph in 2-3 years?

          • jon

            i seem to recall full build out of the system in place now was 2018. not sure how much that has been moved up due to the HSR funds last year.

            eugene-portland is way down the road, but portland-seattle is very doable and is almost entirely where the decent rail service is in this corridor. i also recall to go 90mph+ they would start to build segments of a new dedicated passenger rail line, starting between portland and seattle in the vicinity of centralia.

            even with 90mph service, it will still be a very good train, because it already is now. add some more trains a day and make it a little faster and more reliable and it will be hugely successful.

            • Nathanael

              Portland-Seattle costs quite a lot more and full buildout is delayed due to a shortage of funds in the early years, so it won’t be by 2018.

              The current round of funding has completely funded *all* the “bottleneck removal” projects, which is a *huge* deal. Portland-Seattle service, when current projects are completed, should be perfectly reliable barring suicides, and time-competitive with driving, and I believe has 90mph top speeds.

              The remaining projects for “full build out” basically consist of building a third track dedicated to passengers along most of the distance from somewhat north of Vancouver, WA to somewhere around Lacey, WA. In segments. This track would be 110mph; at full buildout this would be the primary passenger route and passenger trains would pass each other, at speed, by entering the 90mph tracks shared with freight.

              • aw

                “Portland-Seattle service, when current projects are completed, should be perfectly reliable barring suicides,”

                … and landslides
                … and derailments
                … and floods.

              • Nathanael

                Thanks to global warming, flooding is going to be an issue for that whole region, yes, I stand corrected on that, and the current projects do not elevate the track above floodplain level throughout (though it’s already better off than I-5).

                Current multi-tracking projects *should* prevent derailments from closing all traffic south of Seattle, and as usual that derailment you mentioned was north of Seattle. (The line north of Seattle is *much* more problematic.)

                That Vancouver, WA landslide is an outlier. Mostly it’s the line north of Seattle which has such problems.

              • aw

                The derailment was south of Seattle, near Tacoma. It was on tracks that will be bypassed by passenger trains on the Point Defiance Bypass. That re-routing should improve reliably considerably.

  • Pam

    You are small minded people! The Governor has basically given $2.3 billion of federal money to another state that will gladly accept the funding and use it for infrastructure. Remember that Floridians currently pay a portion of the gas tax that goes into this $2.3 billion. Therefore the tax money of Floridians will go to support transit in another state.

    • Ocean Railroader

      Pennsyvinia would gladly take that nice tasty cut of stake off Florida’s dinner plate if you don’t want it in that our railroad system has been living off of table scraps last 40 years.

  • Walter

    Well, Rick Scott probably did what no Florida politician should want to do: piss off Disney. Disney operates bus service to Orlando in order to keep people on it’s property, where they operate a fairly decent transportation service that has allowed me to not rent a car in the 20 years I’ve been going to Disney. They even gave their land for a station so that the 40 million people who visit each year could fly into either Tampa or Orlando and be there in an hour. Expect Bob Iger to send some money to whoever runs against Scott in 2014.

    Hopefully the money gets sent up to the NEC where it could be used for a myriad of projects.

    • Donk

      I can’t wait until the tide turns and all of these knucklehead governors are voted out of office for giving thousands of jobs away to other states and cementing their states in the 20th century.

      • Buckeyeman

        Well, I’m afraid the opposite’s going to happen. The Teabaggers are here to stay and in fact take complete control of al state and federal governments.

        • Donk

          Not if Democrats and young people actually come out to vote this time.

          • Adirondacker12800

            They are going to have to come up with something better than waving the flag and singing God Bless America. While the Democrats are really good at snatching defeat from the jaws of victory it should be easy to point out that waving the flag and singing God Bless America doesn’t fix the economy or provide better services or….

            • MrTemecula

              It seems so Orwellian in conservative land. Tax cuts shrink deficits. War will bring peace in Iraq. More freeways will relieve congestion. A country with only 5% of the oil reserve can find more oil if we drill off the coast. Their whole ideology is to destroy the state and bring the country to pre-Great Depression levels. It’s easy for them since all they have to do is absolutely nothing at worst or savagely eliminate programs at best with the knowledge they can block bringing back any programs.

              It’s amazing how conservative foreign and economic policy failures has put them in a position to enact their ultimate goals.

              • Adirondacker12800

                ..bring the country to pre-Great Depression levels…

                Most of us would love to have it the way it was during the Clinton Adminstration….

        • Nathanael

          Buckeyeman, remember the teabaggers lost bigtime in California.

          My dad always says that California is 10 years ahead of the rest of the country. (It was with Reagan too, ugh.)

          You’re in trouble in Ohio, but the tide is turning against the insanity already in Wisconsin and New Jersey; I suspect that some of us will be able to push these nuts out of power.

          • Drewski

            Nathaniel, I have to take issue with your comment. I know it wasn’t intended to be offensive, but it had a very dismissive tone.

            This isn’t a forum for politics; it’s about rail and urban transit, right? But politics is intruding, and I’d like to clarify a couple of points and get back to the regular programming.

            In Ohio, we have a budget deficit somewhere between $8.4 and $10 billion. We have a governor intent on getting rid of collective bargaining. The bill is likely to pass before 21 March, which happens to be the last day to announce layoffs falling within this fiscal year. It’s also the same time the budget comes down. In Ohio, the pension boards are appointed by the governor and the unions. If our bill passes the House, it will be signed. In theory, it doesn’t take effect until 1 MArch 2012, the end of this contract. In reality, the governor can issue an executive declaration of fiscal emergency, which suspends all contracts. If the bill passed in March of this year, it’s a good question as to whether the union appointees to the pension boards would be allowed to continue. If not, the state will be able to steal that cash from OPERS, the largest and most solvent pension fund.

            It gets better. Under a declared fiscal emergency, or without a union, the governor can order state workers to work for minimum wage. They can also be furloughed for 110 days, or laid off indefinitely. It remains to be seen how the state plans to handle this. If the state is blocked from raiding the pension fund, the next target is Medicaid. Medicaid is a hard target because almost any significant cut will result in an untenable loss of Federal matching money. That leaves general expenditures, and in Ohio you would be looking at $8-10 billion out of roughly $32 billion. Can your schools take a 25% cut? Our college tuition is already among the highest in the country (tuition alone to a state school is in the $10k range).

            Ohio has a great potential market for rail, as well as windpower and organic agriculture. All these things are relevant to each other at this time. In Ohio, we’re watching damn near every future economic opportunity being snatched away, and we can only do so much to stop it on our own. Kinda like when Hungary rose up in 1956, or Czechoslovakia in 1968. Look at what I’ve written. We in Ohio are not all backwards. We’ve fought back hard. We’re still fighting back. I’ve given you an outline of what we are facing in the next six months, and what I’ve described is scary for everybody in this state. Please don’t ever again suggest that we aren’t fighting back here. I am. Thousands of other people are. We haven’t added one job in this state in roughly 12 years. We’re trying to keep our heads above water, and it doesn’t help much when we essentially get slapped down for not being as active as Wisconsin. Our drama started later than Wisconsin’s, we’re twice the size, and our economy was already a wasteland. If you want change, stand with us instead of treating us like we’re passive and down for the count.

            And now we return to regular programming, again with my apologies for going off-topic.

    • Anthony

      Then Disney should have stepped up to the plate a guaranteed 100% of all the subsidies and any cost over runs for the 20 years.

      • Chris

        What does Disney have to do with this?

        • Adirondacker12800

          I’m sure Disney’s plan was to stop running buses across Metro Orlando and have the people arriving by air take the train to the station conveniently located just outside of their resorts.

          • Spokker

            The buses are worth it to Disney. They ensure that the guest does not visit other Orlando area attractions very easily.

            They would still need to operate buses from the HSR station to their resorts and theme parks.

            • Adirondacker12800

              The train won’t get stuck in traffic on I-4.

              • Spokker

                But the guests get stuck at Disney World, which is what Disney wants.

                Whether they get stuck in traffic or not in irrelevant. First, they are free. Second, they are often booked during the reservation process. Third, they meet your flight. And fourth, the person booking them most likely lives out of state and isn’t thinking about whether or not they’ll be stuck in traffic.

                They also take your luggage from the airport and deliver it to your hotel room, which is pretty snazzy too, all for free.

      • Beta Magellan

        Covering cost overruns and operating costs—like JR and partners were planning to?

      • Ocean Railroader

        Disney owns it’s own public transit system they also own three major giant cruise ships all that would have been near this thing they most likely wouldn’t have been at all borthered to run this rail line in that it goes between three places they care about.

    • The ultimate Florida payback will happen if Disneyland underwrites a huge part of the Anaheim California HSR Station. Its a distinct possibility because they already plan to have the Disney monorail enter the Anaheim Station.

      • Spokker

        Among Disneyland watchers, the general consensus is that Disneyland does not and will not pay for public infrastructure. But things could change.

        Also, there are no plans to extend the Disney monorail to Anaheim Station or anywhere else. That is a project spearheaded by the City of Anaheim and the OCTA’s Go Local program. It would be a separate fixed guideway system.

        Even if there were a will and the funding to extend Disney’s current monorail system, it would be impractical as a public transportation system. The Disneyland monorail was an experiment that doubled as a theme park ride.

        • But they already agreed to pay for the Disney station.

          Disney does what is good for Disney. The station is a better deal for Disney than the airport shuttles are, and given their existing shuttle service within their complex, when they can stop operating those shuttles, they get to pocket almost all the difference between the cost of that operation and the cost of what will obviously be a cost-efficient bulk buy of HSR tickets.

          Plus it is a substantial start in the reduction of their risk exposure to gas price shocks, which is their number one business environment risk ~ they can fairly easily convert their intra-site shuttles to electric when the time comes, but intercity transport into the site is a different question entirely.

          • Spokker

            The only thing I could find is that Disney donated $25 million in land for the station site. Where can I confirm that Disney is paying for the actual station?

            • Ocean Railroader

              They would want to build their own station in that they would like it to be a Disney theamed station and who better to do that then Disney themselves I don’t view this as bad in that Disney’s station would have a Mickey theam.

            • I echo the remarks of BrceMcF and add …

              Disney shows their monorail in the California HSR video. And given Disney offered to build a DisneyWorld station, the implication is very clear for Anaheim station as well. In case you didn’t know, Disneyland has to do things that differentiate them from Knotts Berry Farm and Universal Studios Theme Park.

              • Spokker

                What can you show me that confirms that Disney is building or funding the HSR station in Florida? All I could find is that Disney is donating $25 million in land.

                Also, Disney is not building a monorail line to Anaheim Station.

              • Anthony

                Spokker, there is and was absoluetely no plan for Disney to BUILD anything for the HSR in Florida.

                This was just more made up fantasies from these people, hoping you’ll be gullible to buy it.

              • Spokker wrote:
                “What can you show me that confirms that Disney is building or funding the HSR station in Florida? All I could find is that Disney is donating $25 million in land.”

                $25 million in land sounds like a pretty big contribution to me. The second thing DisneyWorld would do is extend the monorail into the station (no cheap either). In total that sounds like $40-50M contribution.

                Unless a miracle turnaround by Gov. Scott occurs however, thats not going to happen.

  • jim

    Rick Scott has just done Amtrak an enormous favor. Joe Boardman is probably doing a little jig around his office right now. Mica pointed out that 76 of the 78 HSR projects had gone to Amtrak; one of the two that didn’t has just vanished. And this was the one that Amtrak had least chance to win. Amtrak had put together a team to bid for it, but no-one really thought they had a chance: the name alone had the wrong vibe. So Scott has kept Amtrak’s competitors out of the country for another few years.

    Plus, with state governors canceling rail projects on them (Kasich, Walker, Christie, now Scott), FRA and USDOT will be the more willing to use Amtrak as their mechanism to get passenger rail built.

    • Woody

      Rick Scott also just killed the proposed Florida East Coast line plan for a six-hour ride Jacksonville-Daytona-Cape Kennedy-Palm Beach-Ft Lauderdale-Miami.

      Oh, not to say “killed.” Go with “postponed” — like until Scott is out of office. Amtrak was ready to go. Instantly they will be much, much, much less ready. (Can’t find the needed cars for a new service, can’t reroute the Silver service trains, etc.) After this, who will want to try to do business with a partisan, unreliable, slippery operator like Rick Scott?

      So Scott killed two birds with one stone, and slapped Mica hard across both cheeks.

      • Ocean Railroader

        I really think Mica doesn’t like high speed rail eather in that he is always complaining about how much of a Boondogl it is.

  • Stan D.

    Look, America’s never going to get HSR. There are too many vested interests that absolutely HATE the idea for a number of reasons (it reduces the need for AASHTO’s precious highways and the airline industry, it’s too “European”, it’s a “boondoggle”, it’s a “big gov’r’mint waste o’ taxpayer money”, whatever).

    Environmental regs and NIMBYism just compound the problem, as does the high cost of American labor. We also have a transportation policy that’s written for the benefit of the auto, petroleum, airline, highway, and real estate industries.

    I think we should give up on HSR, and focus on intracity rail (subways, light rail, commuter rail) instead. Bring trains to people that seem to want them and service in areas where people won’t act like putting in new rail service is the first step towards statues of Lenin and calling each other “Comrade”.

    Let the red states (and goofball blue states like NJ and OH) take the full brunt of future higher oil prices crippling their ability to have a mobile citizenry. They can lie in the beds that they made with their poor decisions today.

    • Nathanael

      California HSR is being built. America will get HSR.

      I have my occasional doubts as to whether the United States will still exist as a political entity by the time it gets built, but HSR *will* get built in North America, and probably north of Mexico.

  • Derr

    Everyone who is against this idea must love to pay ridiculous amount of money for gas. Gas prices will continue to rise at an exponential rate until it become unfeasible to to drive everywhere or even own a car. And before anyone says biofuel, you should also know that that with the current population of the earth, there isn’t enough space to grow enough crops for both food and fuel. Eventually (and sooner than you might think) public transit is going to become the only transit.

  • jon

    We actually want faster rail in the Pacific Northwest, send the money here and watch it work.

  • Jon Fostik

    Lack of vision can be corrected by glasses. For politicians it can be corrected by voting them out of office. Florida has again been out FOX’d by a Jeb Bush ” clone” using scare tactics that derailed the Florida Overland Express project.So now Floridians can enjoy the traffic and lack of well paying construction jobs. I can envision a sign on I95 that says ” Welcome to Florida-home of small minds”. Let other states enjoy the money!

  • JORGE

    THIS IS TO RESPOND TO THE FOLKS THAT SAY THEY NEED A CAR TO GET AROUND DISNEY. FIRST HAVE YOU PLANNED AND TRIED MASS TRANSIT. I LIVE IN MIAMI AND HAVE TWO YOUNG CHILDREN. I DECIDED ONE YEAR FOR THE FUN OF IT TO GO TO DISNEY WITHOUT OUR CAR. YES WE TOOK THAT OLD TIN CAN AMTRAK. WHEN WE GOT TO KISSIMMEE WE PAID FOR A CAB TO OUR HOTEL., AND THEN WHEN WE WANTED TO GO TO ANY PARK I MEAN ANY PARK A BUS WOULD PICK US UP AT THE HOTEL AND TAKE US WHERE WE WANTED TO GO. I DO NOT REMEMBER THE FEE BUT THE FACT THAT I DO NOT REMEMBER IT COULD NOT HAVE BEEN MUCH. I BELIEVE THAT THE MASS TRANSIT IN TAMPA IS AS GOOD OR THE THE SAME AND THAT CONVENTION TRAFFIC WOULD BE REAL GOOD BETWEEN THESE TWO CITIES SINCE THEY BOTH HAVE GREAT AIRPORTS. AND WHAT DO WE HAVE TO LOSE SINCE WHAT THE FEDS DON’T PAY FOR PRIVATE COMPANIES WHERE FIGHTING TO. AND I DO BELEIVE THAT JOBS WAS AN ISSUE.

  • Heidelja

    For Rick Scott: Guiness Book of World Records Claimant Registration (http://www.guinnessworldrecords.com/register/register.aspx?existing=0) for pencil necked politician who refused the most money ($2.7B) in federal funding for the infrastructure of the state in which he was the governor.

  • SEK

    To those who have tossed out the completely unfounded complaints about ridership projections, please, do us all a favor and DON’T look at the original projections for the recently added Lynchburg VA train, or the Maine-to-Boston Downeasters.
    The Lynchburg train (just one a day) was projected at about 55K riders/year. Actual ridership: 125K riders in the first year. OOPS.
    I have forgotten the original figures for the Downeasters. Current ridership: 750K a year.
    Why is CA so intent on HSR? Look at the Surfliners, Capitol Corridor, and San Joaquins: because of significant investment by the state, each now has CAPACITY problems.

    There have been a few lines opened that have lagged in ridership for the first few years – but for the most part, it you build it, they will ride – A LOT.

    If FL wants to toss away the money, let them – CA, WA, and the NEC will gladly soak it up and show ridership to boot. OH and WI even threw away manufacturing jobs, how dumb can you be? These bozos are so completely in the pocket of the car and real estate industry that it is not even funny.

    BTW, a significant outcome of all the turmoil in the mideast is likely to be higher oil prices – possibly MUCH higher.

    • laldm

      The same thing is true in Illinois. Until about 10-15 years ago, Illinois had the same crappy Amtrak service that every other state does and low ridership as a result. Then they decided to double the amount of service, including subsidizing a few new routes, that now makes it possible to move throughout much of Illinois by rail, if slowly. When they doubled service, ridership doubled as well. The Chicago-St. Louis HSR route is already a well-ridden Amtrak route with five trains a day.

      People are willing to ride, and happy to, but it has to be convenient or at least less inconvenient than flying, and right now trains are so sparse in many parts of the country that it usually isn’t.

      • Woody

        Even better. The Lincoln Service Chicago-Springfield-St. Louis was two trains a day each direction, plus, sort of, the daily Texas Eagle long distance train, so say, 3 trains a day. (Eagle service southbound from its start in Chicago was usually on time, while northbound it rarely ever was on time.)

        Illinois agreed to cover the losses if Amtrak would add two more trains, making the Lincoln four plus the Eagle for 5 trains a day. From 3 to 5 is a 67% increase in frequencies, but the ridership went up by more than 90% the first year, and has grown every year since. The Lincoln service today is more or less break-even on operating costs.

        Nobody is whining about the state subsidy for this Chi-St. Louis route because it has effectively ended. The other added frequencies, like Chicago-Carbondale, have also seen high growth in riders, but as you point out, these trains run only twice a day and don’t make good speed. Now the state of Illinois is working with Amtrak to add new routes and improve service, such as to the Quad Cities.

        Uh, oh. That reminds us of yet another Repub lemming Gov.

        Iowa was supposed to get that line extended beyond the Quad Cities to the university town of Iowa City. But it would have had to pony up $32 for track upgrades and about $2 million a year subsidy in exchange for the $200 million plus coming from the feds. But the Repub lemming got the urge and leaped. No new train service for Iowa.

        But Illinois is going ahead with its segment, and it will be running two trains a day Chicago-Quad Cities. The state of Illinois is making its rail decisions based on its actual experience with the Chicago-St. Louis line. The Repub lemming governors are going according to a Vision of how the world should work from Ayn Rand.

        • Adirondacker12800

          We have to ask them what Dagny Taggert would do…

        • Anthony

          Things are so great in the land of Lincoln.

          Chicago just loss 200,000 citizens in just 10 years. Thought everyone wanted trains, thatattracts the hordes. There goes that theory.

          State is banrupt, that they just raised income and corporate taxes 67 %, on top of sky high sales and properety taxes.

          Did I mention Illinois was broke ? They are trying to borrown 8.75 billion dollars to pay bills they have not paid in a year.

          http://articles.chicagotribune.com/2011-02-13/news/ct-met-quinn-borrowing-20110213_1_borrowing-plan-quinn-budget-spokeswoman-income-tax

          Businesses are lining up toleave the state in droves, first out Jimmy Johns, headed to Florida. There baseed in Champaign Illinois, wont be soon .

          http://www.jimmyjohns.com/

          Trains don’t matter to them, taxes do.

          Next up…Catepillar, CEO made some comments that got the state shaking. That 23,000 direct jobs, plus anoither 30,000 support and 20,000 indirect jobs.

          They got trains though.

          • sipes23

            http://www.mysuburbanlife.com/broadview/newsnow/x1992208558/Census-La-Grange-loses-58-in-last-decade-La-Grange-Park-Western-Springs-post-growth

            Careful. While things are admittedly not all ponies and rainbows in Illinois, stating that Chicago lost 200,000 without mentioning the growth in the suburbs is perhaps fudging the truth a bit. To quote the article, “Overall, the Chicago region grew 3 percent to 8.3 million — thanks to double-digit growth in Kane, McHenry and Will counties.”

            Suffice to say, from 43 miles out from downtown Chicago, I’ve got trains departing somewhat better than hourly between 0430 to 2100 getting me into the city. This is a major factor driving real estate purchases in the Chicago area for many people (about 300,000 trips daily on commuter rail here). Dare I say it, yes, trains do matter.

            Now as for the remainder of the fiscal mess here…

            • Nathanael

              Let’s just point out here that taxes in Illinois are lower than in NY. Pretty much every tax except possibly the top income tax rate for the superrich, which is absurdly low in NY.

              Population movements, even business movements, are not driven by taxes, generally. NY is losing population upstate because of offshoring and cheap labor and low environmental standards in places like China; NYC is only now losing population, because the financial industry recently imploded. Upstate is also suffering from weak transportation links.

              Illinois? Well, the downtown train service is in some ways worse than the suburban train service, so is it any surprise that the population moved to the suburbs? Chicagoland as a whole is actually growing.

        • Ocean Railroader

          The Chicago-Quad Cities new rail line is something that I have a personal feeling for in that when it opens I will be able to use it two to four times a year when it opens thus it would have a chain reaction over the whole system in that before it opens I have to drive everywhere it goes to but soon I won’t.

          • FG

            Do you know what the status of the Rockford-Galena-Dubuque line is?

            • Woody

              So far as I have read, the Repub lemming Gov of Iowa jumped off the cliff, killing the Dubuque-Iowa Cities extension.

              But Illinois is going ahead Chicago-Quad Cities, and the feds are not backing away either. The line will have lower passenger totals and a slightly larger operating loss without the added passengers from Iowa. But perhaps they will come aboard later, after this madness has passed.

            • Woody

              Sorry, I got confused. Illinois has so many corridors I need a map to keep track. Don’t know the status of the Dubuque line.

              But the Iowa City (truncated to the Quad Cities) line is in some trouble with the cult members.

              http://www.wqad.com/news/wqad-us-rep-bobby-schilling-defends-vote-20110223,0,7988594.story

              • FG

                Thanks I’d wondered about that after seeing mentions here of the Iowa leg. At least it’ll be easy to extend in the future. Seems like Galena is a longer shot (especially if Metra starts Rockford Service).

              • Nathanael

                Well, hmm. Is the Quad cities line going to be on the Illinois side of the river now? That would seem likely to suck jobs and residents out of Iowa and into Illinois.

              • Nathanael

                Um, I mean the Quad Cities STATION, of course.

      • Ocean Railroader

        My biggest fear about Amtrak when trying to ride on it are places where there is only one train in the morning and one at night and also when the train comes in at say 4.00AM in the morning and shows up at 10.00PM at night if they did add two or four trains to some routes and say a 8.00AM train or a 9.00AM train things would get better also if they had a train that came in at say 6.00PM or 4.00PM that would take the fear out of riding Amtrak from the none riders.

        • FG

          I think the improved times is a big reason why the Illinois service has gotten so much of an increase in riders.

          Are the rumors about the Desert Wind going to amount to anything?

          • Woody

            OC and FG, I’m sure it has occurred to Amtrak that greater frequencies would bring forth more riders. But every proposal to revive a long distance line that I’ve seen (the Pioneer, the North Coast Hiawatha, the eastern segment of the Sunset Limited, and worst of all, the proposed-but-now-dead daily service for the Sunset Limited from L.A. to San Antonio) in every case the host freight rail company has demanded HUNDREDS OF MILLIONS of dollars to pay for improvements to their tracks as “necessary” to accommodate the “disruptions” to be caused by even one more passenger train.

            So let’s assume that any additional frequency on any segment of a long distance Amtrak route (say, Spokane-Seattle or St. Paul-Chicago) would probably require many, many millions in payments to the freights before the first additional passenger train could move. And likewise for a revived Desert Wind, or a train from Chicago to Florida, or any other needed line. (Not all freights are quite as, uh, demanding as the Union Pacific, but none of them are exactly making Amtrak expansion easy.)

            Then consider for a moment how much easier it is to run more and faster trains on routes owned in whole or part by Amtrak or the states. CASHR because it will be almost entirely greenfield construction; the Portage-Dearborn section of Chicago-Detroit; the NEC, of course, and feeders such as the Keystone Corridor to Harrisburg, the New Haven-Hartford-Springfield line, and at least partially the Empire Corridor to Albany; and much of tracks Richmond-Raleigh-Greensboro-(not sure about to Charlotte). Seem like better places to put HSR money.

            Of course, if Amtrak tried to buy more right of way for other lines, the crazies would go into hypershrill mode about Socialism and the end of freedom and so on. So progress is very slow.

            • Nathanael

              FYI, you can look up what the state of NC owns on the “North Carolina Rail Road” web site. Their ownership runs into downtown Charlotte, though I’m not clear on how far.

              On the Empire Corridor Amtrak owns Penn Station to the Harlem River, the state of NY leases the portion from there to Poughkeepsie from American Premier Underwriters (yes, really, and the lease is for something like 300 years), and Amtrak owns from Albany through Schenectady (including the tracks in both stations, I believe — the stations themselves are owned by local authorities). Albany to Poughkeepsie is owned by CSX, but they want to get rid of it if Amtrak or the state is ever willing to buy it.

  • Mark

    Let them drive their cars, pollute the air, and … well, my guess is the rich don’t want the middle class and the poor to have mass transit. Idiots!!

    • Ocean Railroader

      Florida has a lot to lose when the fise hits the big TNT pile known as Arbia and all that oil gets destoryed during the revolations.

  • jim

    Sam Stein at HuffPo claims that LaHood is trying to find a way to get Tampa-Orlando built despite Scott’s rejection. Money quote:

    a discussion of “whether we can create an entity that can run high-speed rail in Florida and get the state out of the way,” an administration official told The Huffington Post.

    I doubt that they can. The median of I-4 belongs to the State. Even if the Federal government could eminent domain it, the State could certainly tie it up in lawsuits until the obligation date for the money had passed.

    But the White House is being reasonable and trying to find a compromise. I think I’ve seen this movie before.

    • “Sam Stein at HuffPo claims that LaHood is trying to find a way to get Tampa-Orlando built despite Scott’s rejection. Money quote”

      The USDOT will not send HSR money were its blocked by a Tea Bag governor. That statement is just for swing voter consumption ensures that they REALLY TRIED to be non-partisan in choice of funded HSR routes. Everyone knows the money is going to California and Illinois. Virginia may get a few scraps.

      • Ocean Railroader

        I think if any more money goes to Californina it to will break open like the Florida project will do in that they put to many high speed rail eggs in one basket and the basket fell in Florida and the basket in California is right now very unstatble.

      • It might not be blocked and, given that Scott did this without getting the OK of the Republicans in the State Legislature, it might not be blockable if they decide to teach him a lesson.

        If the existing legislation requires action by the governor for the authority to act, the legislature can always pass new legislation that modifies those arrangements so the governor can no longer block it.

        The fact is that a veto-proof majority of State Senators have called on the decision to be reversed, including some of the heavier hitters on the Republican side ~ and while the leader of the Republican majority has not signed on (since he wants to run for Senate and cannot directly oppose the Big Oil dupes in the TexasTea Party), he OK’d individual members of the caucus acting as they wish on the issue.

        Its obviously still a tussle, but if they work something out by Friday, and can get enough lower house members to go along, Scott will lose.

    • Woody

      I’m generally opposed to bargaining with terrorists. It only encourages more B.S.

  • WILLIAM

    RICK SCOTT HAS OBVIOUSLY NEVER BEEN TO EUROPE AND TAKEN A TRAIN OVER THERE. HE IS OBVIOUSLY OUT OF TOUCH IN WHAT IS GOOD FOR FLORIDA AND THE USA. TOO BAD. THIS COULD OF BEEN A ROLE MODEL FOR THE REST OF THE COUNTRY. MAYBE SCOTT SHOULD MOVE TO EGYPT. I AM SURE THAT HE COULD BS HIS WAY OVER THERE. I WILL NEVER VOTE FOR THIS EGO MANIAC, GREEDY GUY AGAIN. LEAVE THE STATE AND TAKE A HORSE OUT. YOU ARE FINISHED.

  • AlanF

    The plot thickens. Members of FL State Senate are questioning if Gov Scott has the legal authority to cancel a project that was authorized by the state legislature and the bill signed by the previous governor. 26 Florida State Senators (out of 40) signed a letter urging the federal government to give the state the money for the HSR project regardless of the actions of the governor. This is a Republican controlled state Senate.

    Quoting from an article in the Miami Herald:
    “The bottom line is that he can’t reject this money: It was already approved by another Legislature and another governor,” said Simmons, R-Altamonte Springs. “It’s like trying to veto a bill after it becomes law. It’s too late.”

      • America doesn’t ned this political sideshow to build infrastructure. Even if the bi-aprtisan state legislators obtained a stay of execution forFlorida HSR, Gov. Scott will hold it in legal limbo.

        Since these are economic recovery funds, the answer is a bitter pill for Floridians to swallow, but correct. The $2.4B should be reassigned within 2 weeks. Floridans can then make their next judgment in the next gubernatorial election.

        • Its not certain that he can. It may be that if they can fund the authority, it can proceed.

          The legal question is whether it is presently empowered to act, and just needs to be given the means, or if it can be empowered to act by an act of the legislature passed over Scott’s veto.

          Any state legislature with a veto-proof majority on an issue is in a position to establish an authority under arrangements that the governor cannot block. Where the governor absolutely has to be brought to the table is where the majority is not veto-proof.

          • Hummm. Veto proof legislation is pretty hard to come by. I just hope it gets settled quickly. If they have it, Florida keeps the funds. If not, California and Illinois will show them HSR really works.

            • Ocean Railroader

              Mayland offically said that they want to use 1.2 billion dollars to built a new Baltomare tunnel to replace the 1870’s one and what is cool about this is that they already spent 60 million dollars for the planning and right of a way for it.

              • This is awesome. Link?

              • AlanF

                Maryland got $60 million in the HSIPR stimulus grants to do the Preliminary Engineering and Design work on the B&P Tunnel replacement. The study and PE involves a number of players: Amtrak, MDOT/MARC, Baltimore, and CSX (part of the general outline of the plan includes building a parallel freight tunnel or tracks to the new NEC tunnel to provide a route through Baltimore for double stacked container freight).

                However, the PE and EIS work may not have even started yet. This is a complex project. The replacement tunnel(s) is years away from starting construction. The HSIPR stimulus money has deadlines to start construction so it can’t be put aside for 4-5 years before ground is broken. None a viable candidate to get any of the FL HSR money, if it is re-allocated.

              • orulz

                Link: (if you havent seen it already)
                http://articles.baltimoresun.com/2011-02-19/news/bs-md-omalley-florida-20110218_1_rail-money-high-speed-rail-rail-projects

                Besides the tunnels MD also wants money for:
                •Replacement of three Amtrak railroad bridges in northeast Maryland, on the Bush, Susquehanna and Gunpowder rivers.

                •Redevelopment and expansion of the Amtrak/MARC station and tracks at BWI Marshall Airport.

                •Engineering and construction of a third track between Perryville and Elkton to speed both passengers and freight service.

                •Improvements to the CSX tracks between Silver Spring and Brunswick, which are used by Amtrak intercity and MARC Brunswick Line trains.

                The tunnel and bridge replacements are EXACTLY what this money needs to be spent on. The others I would definitely put down as lower priority.

              • Even though Maryland also needs the reallocated ARRA funds, IMO its better to focus ARRA on (1) California and (2) Illinois because the NEC and upper Piedmont Region (DC-Richmond+Norfolk) will get the lion’s share of HSR funds to come in the next transportation budget.

  • jason

    It’s so funny that there are money but no state like to accept it. May I give a suggest here? I think Obama may invest the money in China to build HSR, I believe every province government will welcome the investment very much.

    • Anthony

      If they pick the proper route, where ridershipprojection either have been demonstrated or can be believed, it wouldn’t be a problem.

      They failed that in Ohio, Wisconsin and now Florida.

      • aw

        Until the line is built, you can’t know whether the ridership projections are high, low or spot on. The Ohio and Wisconsin projects might have had some challenges, but being conventional rail, the capital cost is a lot lower. In any case, the anti-rail talking points don’t properly address the problems with them or properly acknowledge the benefits, they’re just knee-jerk reactions without a lot of thought behind them. Politicians bend to the will of uninformed critics for political gain.

        • Anthony

          China is finding that out right now, aren’t they ?

          Hundreds of billions spent and no riders.

          They sure go fast don’t they though ?

          http://blogs.wsj.com/chinarealtime/2011/02/18/will-massive-debt-derail-chinas-high-speed-trains/

          • I think that you are basically proving aw’s point.

          • jason

            I have been Beijing Tianjin HSR many times, it’s almost full every time. The price may be a little expensive for some regular Chinese, however, you have to realize that once the ticket price is announced, the price will be fixed for a very long time, it’s almost impossible to rise the price later. This has some effects, one is the regular train ticket price is same as its price in early 1990s, it’s dirty cheap, so some people hesistate to accept HSR price. Second, new ticket price for HSR has to be set a little bit higher in the beginning since who knows how long this ticket price has to last. After three or five years, the same price will become more affordable to most people due to rapid economy development. There is also a difference between USA and China, in USA, if you set a price which is too high for now, then it will also be too high for tomorrow, because income for most people are standing still if not decline. It’s different in China, people’s income are increasing everyday!

      • Nathanael

        Wisonsin’s ridership projections were good and indisputable.

        • Anthony

          Nonsense, the ridrship projection were preposterous and unbelievable.

          It was going to have 4 times the passengers of Badger Bus, costing twice as much, and similair times. Don’t think so.

          http://www.badgerbus.com/route/route.aspx

          • Wad

            “Preposterous” and “unbelievable” are meaningless.

            You actually have to run a service in order to know what the over/under was for the actual ridership.

            The forecasting process, ideally, is to establish a ridership benchmark and then determine the capital needed to get as close to the number as possible.

            If ridership forecasts are too optimistic — or if we’re dealing with a world of Anthonys who desire a service to fail — the design phase is when you could cut costs to build a low-capacity system.

            You reduce the capital outlay but in turn make your operating costs higher.

            A successful system also poses problems. Estimates can also be too conservative, and ridership turns out better than expected. However, this runs up against various capacities and the operator pays for it through higher prices or degraded service.

          • Wad

            Anthony wrote:

            It was going to have 4 times the passengers of Badger Bus, costing twice as much, and similair times. Don’t think so.

            Believe in wrong, then.

            Real-world operation of California corridor services — you know, three out of five busiest train services in the U.S. — shows it can be done.

            The trains offer a service that defies the mechanistic rationality that you seem to believe guides mode choices. People don’t choose trips strictly based on IF-THEN statements.

          • Nathanael

            4 times the ridership of one of several crappy bus operators? Sounds about right. Rail mode preference in that area is high (see Minneapolis’s experience with its light rail, or the existing Hiawathas) and you failed to include the multiple other companies running buses from Madison to Chicago (Van Gelder?) and Milwaukee.

            Your anecdotes are no match for professional ridership projections.

            • Anthony

              What does light rail in the Twin Cities have to do with heavy rail from Madison ?

              Even the students at the U of Wisconsin when given their options and pricing said overwhelmingly they’ll stick to the bus.

              Who would ride this ?

              Not them.

              You live in a fantasy world.

              • Nathanael

                Light rail in the Twin Cities? An actual measure of actual rail mode-bias.

                Surveys done in towns which don’t have rail have been proven, repeatedly, to underestimate rail ridership. Sometimes by 50% or more. When asked in surveys, many people say that they’ll keep using whatever they’re used to. In fact, a bunch of these people switch to the rail service. It’s an example of bias in surveys towards that-which-already-exists. Check out Seattle for one of many, many, examples.

                Sorry, it’s you who are living in a fantasy world. Sorry you don’t realize it.

              • Nathanael

                As a note, surveys done in towns WITH rail don’t have the same problem with underestimation, because rail isn’t some alien imaginary futuristic thing to those people; so the numbers from Milwaukkee and Chicago surveys are probably about right.

              • Anthony

                Broke college kids going to pay twice as much for something that doesn’t save them anytime.

                Sure they are – LOL

              • Anthony

                Here is your Seattle numbers, way off the mark.

                http://seattletimes.nwsource.com/html/localnews/2014381404_soundtransit03m.html

                What part of that do you not understand ?

  • Bob

    It appears that LaHood will give Scott until Friday to change his mind before reallocation decisions are made:

    http://www.joc.com/government-regulation/lahood-gives-florida-one-week-find-rail-options

    • That becomes, Friday for the Florida State Legislature to establish that Scott does not actually have the authority to make the decision that he did if a veto-proof majority of the State Legislature disagrees.

      Since Scott looks likely to try to be using strong-arm tactics against both the Republican and Democratic caucuses in the state legislature, this is an opportunity for the Republican caucus in the state legislature to prove to him that he cannot act without consulting with them first.

    • Woody

      I generally don’t favor negotiations with hostage-takers and other terrorists.

      But while LaHood jaw-jaws with Rick Scott, the DOT staff can use the time to reevaluate the various other, more deserving contenders.

      • Ocean Railroader

        I knew Florida was going to shut it down if I was La Hood I would have said the next day ok your funding is going to New York and North Carolina don’t pass go don’t collect 2.5 billion dollars

  • Like I’ve said before, the plan was flawed from day one, but what Scott did was even worse because he didn’t even let the foreign companies bid on the route! Had he let the likes of Virgin or JR Central operate the 84-mile line, he would have retained his credibility. As it turned out, once he had the Reason Foundation doing research on the HSR route, it was clear what the gov was going to do. One can only hope that he has a plan for conventional rail service once gas exceeds September 2008 levels…

    • jim

      once he had the Reason Foundation doing research on the HSR route, it was clear what the gov was going to do

      but it still came as an enormous surprise both to the Florida legislature and USDOT.

  • Michael Jarusiewicz

    I agree with Mr. Scott. Unless the private sector is willing to cover future costs and overruns, he made the right decision. I have been a Democrat my entire life but see the party as undisciplined, out of control. There are things I do not like about the Republicans but in this case I am right with Mr. Scott. Again lets get a commitment from President Obama to cover cost overruns and future ridership shortfalls. To those of you who like to compare us to Europe I would say there are too many differences to compare. Thank you for considering my comment.

  • Brandi

    Well the florida project has been killed.

    http://transportationnation.org/2011/03/04/breaking-no-high-speed-rail-for-florida-scott-tells-dot-no-and-the-court-upholds-his-authority-to-do-so/

    Hopefully we can get this money redirected quickly so it can be used by the ARRA mandated deadline. I’m voting all the money goes to CA and the NEC.

    • jim

      There are NEPA problems with the NEC spine, but about half the money could usefully be spent on the NEC feeders. Amtrak would need some more rolling stock, though, on the NEC if the feeders were upgraded. Perhaps an order to Talgo would save the Wisconsin factory threatened with closure by Walker’s decision to cancel Madison-Chicago (DoD would call this “maintaining the industrial base”). Michigan could use some of this money, too.

      • Adirondacker12800

        They could fast track a Finding of no Significant Impact for constant tension catenary on NEC south of New York and suck up the 2.4 billion in no time.

        • Bob

          Ray Lahood is in Charlotte today….

          (but we still have freight carrier negotiation issues down here)

        • I thought the estimate for the catenary was $1 billion.

          • Adirondacker12800

            A billion is too low unless you only do tracks 2 and 3. New Haven to Boston was 600 million if I remember correctly or 2 million a track mile. NY to DC would be roughly 800 track miles plus a lot of very complex yards and stations. On the bright side all of NJTransit and MARC can run on either 25Hz or 60Hz so phasing the job outside of Philadelphia shouldn’t be a problem. Can’t find an authoritative source – the new Silverliners in Philadelphia are supposed to be capable of both.

            I’m assuming that when they do this the system would be converted to 60Hz too. They’d have no source of 25Hz for the short stretch of the North Jersey Coast line south of Rahway so that would have to be done. Probably want to do at least City Center in Philadelphia too – middle of the busiest section isn’t a great place to be doing phase changes. Wouldn’t have to do it right away but converting all of suburban Philadelphia to 60Hz would have to be done eventually too.

            …. Easy to suck up 2 billion or so. Worth it because it would increase reliability, increase speeds and eventually make it cheaper to run the railroads.

            • jim

              Route-miles is the right metric, not track-miles. If you’re electrifying for the first time, as for New Haven-Boston, then the cost is dominated by substations and transformers, which are spaced by route-miles. Even labor costs are dominated by building the supports, which are spaced by route-miles. And even the labor costs of stringing the catenary are primarily driven by moving people into position, down the line and up into the air, rather than by the time they actually take to connect the catenary to the supports. The latter takes twice as long for four tracks than for two, but it’s a small component of the total cost. And, of course, the cost of the wire is in the noise.

              The reason Amtrak’s estimate is so high is the replacement has to be done while trains are running and pulling power from the existing catenary. I’m sure that in some stretches — Jersey Avenue to New York, for example — work will have to be done at night and on weekends, with the attendant unsocial hours labor rates.

              There’s an argument to be made that replacing the catenary should wait until the major decisions have been made on NEC HSR. If NEC HSR is going to look more like the Vision, then the existing catenary can be left in place on the existing tracks; HSR won’t be using them. If NEC HSR is going to look more like the Master Plan, then the catenary needs to be replaced; Acela 2 will be running along the same tracks as Acela 1. And probably the transformers will need replacing at the same time: let Amtrak buy standard 60 Hz trainsets for Acela 2. Right now, there’s no need to do anything. 15 Acelas per day will run 5 to 10 minutes faster between Washington and New York for that billion dollars. There are more cost-effective places to use the money.

              • Adirondacker12800

                Right now, there’s no need to do anything.

                It’s well past it’s prime and needs to be replaced.

              • jim

                But a billion dollars spent straightening curves would speed up 50 odd trains a day, rather than 15.

                Everything on the NEC is past its prime. But there’s only so much money. Do you spend it on something which just benefits Acela service or something which benefits every train.

                Amtrak sometimes talks as though Acela were the only service on the NEC. But most of us ride Regionals.

              • As far as I can tell from the route maps, the Vision involves trains using the existing ROW in New Jersey and the northern Philadelphia suburbs. There’s even a dip in speed for the Metuchen S-curve.

                The main advantage of those seemingly small fixes – 10 minutes for catenary, 1.5 minutes for Baltimore, seconds for Elizabeth and Metuchen – is that their benefits are mutually reinforcing, and grow as the trains get faster. This includes acceleration: faster-accelerating trains suffer more from bad station throats. In other words, such improvements get the NEC closer to the point that full-fat HSR requires only the right rolling stock, rather than new infrastructure.

              • jim

                That’s what I thought when I read the Vision, but recently Boardman has asked for $7B to build the first segment of the Vision from Newark to Philadelphia. $7B is far more than is needed to upgrade the existing track. The plan has to be to build new tracks, perhaps mostly following the existing right of way.

                Let me clarify. In a context of general upgrade of the NEC spine — curve rectification, switch replacement, resignaling, hell, refencing — replacing the catenary should be integral, precisely for the reasons Alon gives. But in the context of “we found a billion dollars, go spend it on the NEC,” replacing the catenary shouldn’t be the highest priority. Some of the curves, some of the switches, perhaps even the third track in Delaware should have the money spent on them first.

          • New Haven-Boston required complex things like tapping onto the power grid, rather than just stringing new catenary. Amtrak’s own plan says $1 billion for re-electrification, if you believe that (and I’m not sure I do). If it’s so expensive to put constant tension catenary on local tracks, they should just not do it. If the point is to allow trains to use the local tracks to get around an obstruction on the express tracks, then the speed limit is set by the switches, not the catenary – to say nothing of the fact that high-speed tracks should not have obstructions (and don’t, on the Shinkansen and LGVs).

    • Anthony

      Palm Beach to Miami or nothing….nothing it is.

    • Drewski

      I apologize for any bitterness in my tone, but I’m glad Gov. Scott opted to screw his state over. It all but guarantees California more Federal money that it ever anticipated, which means construction will be that much faster there. Without referring to prior posts (ThomasD, were you the one?), I seem to recall that the addition of some of the Florida money to the California project will get the line from Fresno to at least Palmdale, maybe Sylmar. I’ll take a wild guess and say that CSHRRA won’t allow diesel locos on the tracks, but that doesn’t mean they couldn’t be looking for every possible way to get this line into service as quickly as possible.

      For all of the sprawl, for all of the NIMBYism, for all of the foolishness that is such a common feature of California politics, California is showing the rest of the country that we Americans can move into the future. Forget the trains for a minute. Don’t the airlines own the rights to gates at airports? If a gate at SFO has a stated value of X, then that gives United or any other airline an asset it held but couldn’t necessary quantify. United can then do as Lufthansa and other airlines have done, and combine a flight into or out of SFO with a train trip. All they have to do is pay the rail authority for the desired number of seats. It’s not a subsidy when a private company pays for the service, right?

      What is the upper end of potential traffic on the California line? In theory, if this line has the capacity for 10-minute headways like the core of the Shinkansen, then it will reshape the travel market for all of California. Florida is far more dependent on tourism, and I expect it won’t be long until Florida is even willing to consider income tax to push itself into the future.

      Florida’s governor held his state and its residents back. So did Kasich in Ohio, and Walker in Wisconsin, but Scott was far worse as far as negative consequences. In a way, we all owe him, because it won’t be ten years before California has trains running. As soon as that happens, things will change quickly, and people in other states will take a much harder look at what they do or don’t have. In a state like Ohio or Wisconsin (or even California), rail offered a major-airport level of access to small cities. That’s a huge economic and social advantage. Scott didn’t just trash that. He also forced Florida visitors to continue spending more than they would otherwise have to if there were rail service. Scott turned on Florida’s largest single revenue source (since Floridians don’t believe in taxing themselves). Since when did “fiscal responsibility” include attacking your jurisdiction’s revenue sources? Florida, you will overcome this, and your loss may be the last piece that makes this a reality for all of us in the long term.

      • Anthony

        You don’t know what you’re talking about.

        Just like Ohio, Wisconsin, Florida the California HSR will never roll an inch in the state…NEVER.

        • Glen

          YA right…we have a voter approved 9Billion plus almost another 4billion from the ARRA/2010 and soon more from this Moron FLA Governor.And more with the Trasportation Bill coming up..Plus we have broad support and a proHSR Governor..All you naysayers/bagger types are going to hate it when Cali rubs your noses in our HSR traintracks!!

        • Drewski

          Anthony, that’s a strange comment. Almost verging on catty.

          I like your point about algae-based motor fuel. I said so before. I’m familiar with the concept. In different parts of the US, there are viable arguments for bio-based fuels. Corn ethanol is a crappy model. In Ohio, for example, I would like to take two models and compare them to existing state agricultural output. The first example is diesel requirements for buses, trains and maybe trucks fueling up in Ohio.

          The second example is much broader. If Ohio had rail electrification comparable to Germany’s, and a density-comparable local bus and rail network (most likely diesel for these), then how much biodiesel or comparable fuel would Ohio need from its own farms? How much of this could be a secondary product of composting, or restaurant waste, or farm and lawn cuttings? In Ohio, the conceptualization of electric rail has relied on theoretical windpower output (both offshore and in central highlands) for at least some of the power supply, at least from what I’ve seen.

          Anthony, what you seem to not want to hear is that Tampa-Orlando is NOT the primary Florida rail travel market. Of course it’s secondary. Nobody here has argued otherwise. The whole point has been that it’s a cheap r/w and a good initial segment. If the rail line is anywhere close to as successful as is likely, it will pay for straightening the r/w in certain curves. Orlando-Miami will get built. In another post, somewhere in time, I referenced the problems Tri-Rail had with DMUs using the New bridge in Broward. You and I and plenty of others know Tri-Rail is essentially an ongoing ad-hoc service. No European country would indulge this crap. Even a private contractor would demand access to the more pedestrian-friendly route to the east, and even a private company would be looking at ways to elevate the line.

          The truth is that Florida CAN be a phenomenal rail market. Florida CAN be proof that “The Market” will pay for elevated rail lines–local rail, HSR, and freight in some situations, if those are the requirements for appropriate rail service. (Grade separation is all but impossible on the Atlantic coast if it’s not elevated.) Florida can choose rail, or it can choose to watch the Gold Coast choked on parking lots and a Biscayne Aquifer destroyed by saline incursion. Anthony, if you’re a Floridian, then do you want to speak to your state’s potential, or to your state’s fate from willful self-destruction?

          • Anthony

            The proposed ridership figures for the HSR Tampa to Orlando were higher than the entire ACELA line.

            The entire notion was preposterous and Scott was correct in killing it.

            Wrong route, wrong area to start with.

      • California needs enough to extend from Bakersfield to Palmdale, I estimate $1.6-$1.8 Billion. California can contribute $320-360 million on top of that to get the extension that eliminates the “Lack of independent Utility” argument for the project because until California HSR SF-LA opens, Amtrak could choose to run from Oakland-Fresno-Bakersfield-Palmdale-LA and Sacramento-Fresno-Bakersfield-Palmdale-LA.

        There’s something else brewing when the California HSR route reaches Palmdale. U.S. DOT studies for the LA-Palmdale-Barstow-Las Vegas HSR route should complete in 2011-12. California has no interest in funding the project because it enables more state gambling, spa & resort tax exit to Nevada casinos instead of California casinos. But if Desert Express backers (Vegas casino) put up anything close to their planned $4 billion, you can be sure the USDOT and Nevada DOT will provide completion funding.

        Southern California drivers are the largest source of Las Vegas visitors, by far. Vegas casinos lost a bundle of money when gasoline shot past $4/gallon in Summer 2008, due to a significant reduction in SoCal drivers. Imagine Vegas casino & Nevada Treasury fears when gasoline hits $5/gallon by 2012-13.

        Vegas casinos also miss revenue during big holidays because many SoCal travelers refuse the queuing hassles of a short flight to Vegas. Others don’t want to spend 7-8 hours on the I-15 Freeway parking lot (a mistake I made once over Thanksgiving). Remember, the Strip and Downtown casinos discourage driving while in Vegas. They want average Joe & Jane walking, taking a taxi, catching a monorail or the Deuce bus between casino resorts. The City of Las Vegas also wants visitors catching the Deuce/taxis to the expanded premium shopping outlets next to downtown.

        For decades, the Vegas casino & Nevada Treasury have also wanted better non-flight access to NorCal visitors. In this viable scenario, NorCal visitors on California HSR can switch trains at Palmdale, then head to Las Vegas.

        Considering the average cost of new casino on the Las Vegas Strip costs upwards of $2 Billion, a collective of Vegas casinos could justify $4 Billion investment to secure access to all of California’s gambling, spa & resort market with more shopping to boot. Thus, Vegas casinos and Nevada Treasury have compelling interests to put up as much as 40-50% of Las Vegas-Barstow-Palmdale construction funding for 15 minute train frequency, 220 mph California HSR speeds and low ticket prices. Vegas casinos and Nevada Treasury don’t won’t Californians worried about driving time or transportation cost to get there. They want all Californians in the best possible mood to spend upwards of $1000 WHILE THERE.

        Politically, Senator Reid has already spoken in favor of HSR (no doubt for all these reasons to benefit Nevada). Like all senators, he is expected to return federal tax dollars home when possible. At least in this case, it would be part of a good national asset (Interstate HSR Network, Phase 1) for the 21st century. Furthermore, President Obama owes Nevada a favor. His comments about the bailed-out bankers wasting taxpayer money on Vegas resorts inadvertently led to many other industries also canceling Vegas casino conferences. Hence, U.S. DOT funding contributing to LA-Las Vegas HSR would heal a lot of those wounds and be favorable talking point for Nevadans during the 2012 election.

        • Wad

          Thomas, it isn’t far-fetched to expect Nevada traffic to go the other way, too.

          Las Vegas isn’t that interesting to people who live in Neon Babylon all the time. Residents want to get away, preferably to a beach or what’s defined in Las Vegas as an exotic locale — a place that doesn’t need machines to keep cool. :>

          It would also put Las Vegas within Southern California’s tourist sphere. Vegas guests can now be within easy distance of theme parks, zoos, Hollywood (only 15 minutes by existing subway from Union Station), museums, etc. Now, a trip to Vegas can mean a side trip to Southern California in which more time is spent at the destination and not the journey. Plus, the journey is now not only faster, but also the picturesque desert can be enjoyed as passengers.

          I’m also probably looking far ahead on this, but I think Las Vegas will become the Detroit of the 21st century. So much of its economy is tied to a single industry — gambling tourism — that it won’t be able to withstand vulnerabilities once its stranglehold on legal gaming is broken. Virtually every Indian tribe, and many declining cities, are looking at gambling as a source of jobs and tourist money. In a decade or two, every American will be within a 2-hour drive of a casino that offers the full Vegas experience.

      • “What is the upper end of potential traffic on the California line? In theory, if this line has the capacity for 10-minute headways like the core of the Shinkansen, then it will reshape the travel market for all of California.”

        I forget the specific numbers between LA-SF, but the planned 10-minute headways, 2 hour 38 minute trip times have Southwest Airlines shaking in their boot. Southwest alone runs over 30 flights daily between the metro areas.

        When flying 400 miles between SFO and LAX, there are only 7-8 minutes of cruising speed while depositing tons of greenhouse gases in the Lower 48’s busiest sub-500 mile air corridor. The other major airlines are already shifting to 500-mile and longer routes where they can cruise for at least 20 minutes and run more profitably. Once California HSR opens, I look forward to Southwest doing the same. More importantly, thousands of single & couple drivers are going to switch to California HSR, since CalTrans (DOT) has no plans to widen I-5 Freeway in the corridor (at a savings I might add).

        So you can ignore the clueless California HSR naysayers in this post, most of whom don’t know or ignore the route dynamics, higher alternative costs to manage growth or the dominant progressive politics of a tax donor state.

        • Wad

          Southwest has nothing to fear. In fact, HSR might be a blessing in disguise.

          The market will redistribute across all available options. Southwest will reduce flights, because the cost of an unsold seat on a plane is much higher than an unsold seat on a train.

          Southwest can then take those canceled flights and redeploy the resources into corridors where HSR doesn’t compete — or against other air carriers’ successful routes.

      • Both legally and technically, the CAHSR line is designed with 5-minute headways in mind. This is comparable to the Tokaido Shinkansen, but would be easier to achieve because the passing segments at the intermediate local stations are designed to be much longer.

        Whether the line will ever have enough traffic to justify 12 tph is a separate question. The official projections are a peak of 9 tph, supporting 65-97 million annual riders at full buildout (I may be slightly off at the higher end). SNCF’s study predicts that ridership will be at the lower end of the official projections, i.e. 65 million.

        • Assuming the SF-LA spine opens in 2019, it will have no trouble drawing 25 million. Thats just the opening act. California is building HSR system for 2025 and beyond when population is much higher, oil approaches $300-400/barrel and the effects of global warming are more evident. All the western states will be racing to connect with California HSR and sorry they didn’t move faster.

          • Drewski

            I understand the core line in California. I would like to see conceptual takes on expanding the service. The Surfliner from LA to SLO counts there. So does service to Reno, or from Oakland and Richmond to the Redwood Coast. There’s the 5 corridor north of Sacramento.

            Here’s a simple question: what if the US stopped using its military to “protect” the flow of oil out of the Persian Gulf? What if the US focused on two things–electric supply for intercity rail, and our biofuel potential to supplant nearly all oil imports? China wants oil? Let China send an aircraft carrier to sit off Bandar Abbas. Let the EU do it. Let Mexican drug cartels do it. Oil price is crazy. If the US gets outta the game, because we decided to evolve beyond dependence on it, then we call more of the shots.

            US seems to benefit from oil being priced in USD. What would happen if oil were USD-priced, but US was NOT dependent on oil? Why aren’t Americans smart enough to ask that question, and to demand that degree of sovereignty?

            • If the US focused on biofuel more, chances are that the ensuing rise in food prices would cause a global crisis so bad that not only will international trade collapse, but also the NGO types, who are already annoyed at first-world agricultural policies, will drop any and all support of the US on the subject. Good luck finding alternative allies for HSR.

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