Controversial Orlando-Tampa bullet train plan may die

Posted Thursday, June 26, 2003 5:17 AM | Contributed by Jeff

Distracted by a loss of funding and under pressure from Gov. Jeb Bush, high-speed rail officials deferred a decision Wednesday on a controversial route for the Tampa-to-Orlando leg of the state's bullet train. At the same time, the board of the High Speed Rail Authority worked out a plan that might persuade Gov. Jeb Bush to restore to the state budget $7.2-million in operating capital he slashed last week with a line-item veto.

Disney has used its influence to offer a station on-property that would help pay for the rail line by attracting customers, but only if the authority doesn't operate the route through the International Drive area and to competing attractions.

Read more from The St. Petersburg Times.

Thursday, June 26, 2003 5:27 AM
Good riddance. This is a huge boondoggle that will suck the state's budget dry if built. We are becoming more dependent on cars, not less, and I can't see my fellow Floridians giving up the gas guzzlers.

The only route I can imagine working at all is the Airport to Disney version and Disney is being made to be the big bad mouse for insisting on it.

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Thursday, June 26, 2003 5:46 AM
Yes, this country IS "more dependent on cars". I just had a long discussion about this with a friend the other night. This country needs MORE mass transit, but unfortunately the prevailing mindset of the American public is that we love our cars (or rather, gas-guzzling SUVs, and then SUV owners complain about the price of gas anyway. But I Digress)

A train from the airport to Orlando is a great idea for the tourists, IF it served anything else in Orlando in addition to Disney. I'd love to be able to go to Orlando and not have to worry about renting a car, but I'm not a Disney-phile. So I'm back to needing a car, and we're back to square one...

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--Greg, aka Oat Boy
My page
"Another visitor. Stay a while. Stay FOREVER!"

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Thursday, June 26, 2003 5:53 AM
rollergator's avatar The new roads north of Orlando do seem to be diverting a bunch of traffic, and that makes I-Drive only *slightly* less painful than I-5 in SoCal...

To heck with The Rat, he can get his OWN mass-transit system without MY tax dollars...

It sure would be NICE if Americans outside NYC and the PNW could realize that mass transit is really the only viable solution to the steadily increasing traffic AND the fossil fuels situation, but c'mon, we've SEEN our school systems, and learning to THINK, it's just not in the curriculum....

bill, whose SUV is a VW Jetta...

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Thursday, June 26, 2003 6:35 AM
Mass transit will never fly in this country because of one major reason....SIZE. The U.S. is just too freaking big, and people are too spread out for any large scale system to work.

Take the following example from
http://geography.about.com/library/weekly/aa012599.htm

"Population density of the continents:


North America - 32 people/sq mi
South America - 73 people/sq mi
Europe - 134 people/sq mi
Asia - 203 people/sq mi
Africa - 65 people/sq mi
Australia and Oceania - 9 people/sq mi

The population density of the United States is approximately 76 people/ sq mi."

As you can see, the population density of the U.S. is roughly half or less of the two major places where mass transit works, Europe and Asia. Obviously, the tighter you pack 'em in, the greater need to move people around more efficiently. Thus, you already have good mass transit in the U.S. where it's required (NYC, Boston, etc.). LA is tough, not because of the number of people, but because it's really spread out.

BTW, I own two SUV's, and as fluids go, gas is about the cheapest thing you can buy. For cryin' out loud, some people will pay more for a 20 oz. bottle of Evian than I pay for a gallon of gas! I never complain, knowing that we could get shafted like the folks in Europe (approx. $4-$5 per gallon of gas, mostly taxes).

Later,
EV
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"Here's the thing about living in the past. If it was so good, then how come it didn't last? If it helps you, I'll put it in a phrase. Those were the times, but these are the days." - The Human League

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Thursday, June 26, 2003 6:50 AM
Jeff's avatar Density means nothing... the problem is that half of the 40,000 people in my 5x5 mile square suburban town all drive the same freakin' place everyday, that being downtown Cleveland. That's not the most efficient use of natural resources.

Just because you think that gas is cheap, with total disregard for the consumption of fossil fuel and environmental impact doesn't mean it's right or not a problem. Experts say that oil production will reach its highest peak somewhere between 2010 and 2020 depending on who you ask, and there's a reasonable possibility that if consumption habits don't change, I could see the death of oil before I die.

But I'll be driving my fuel cell car by then...

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Jeff - Webmaster/Admin - CoasterBuzz.com - Sillynonsense.com
DELETED!

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Thursday, June 26, 2003 7:13 AM
EV, you're pretty rare, though. You're exactly right in that gas is cheaper than water here (scary thought), but people will complain about it anyway. The high taxes on gas in other countries are exactly to encourage the use of mass transit.

I'll readily admit to relying on my car (which is a fairly lean Honda Civic that gets close to 40mpg on the highway between parks :) ), because the mass transit infrastructure isn't there. If I lived in NYC, Boston, Chicago, etc., you can be pretty darn sure I'd use mass transit (driving in NYC scares me anyway ;) ) Heck, even when I was working in downtown Pittsburgh, I used the trolley to get to work, rather than pay for parking.

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--Greg, aka Oat Boy
My page
"Another visitor. Stay a while. Stay FOREVER!"*** This post was edited by GregLeg 6/26/2003 11:14:51 AM ***

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Thursday, June 26, 2003 7:19 AM
Las Vegas has it right. The are almost ready to open the first ever PRIVATELY funded mass transit system in North America (maybe the world): The Las Vegas Monorail.
http://www.lvmonorail.com/

Eventually, they plan on expanding it to the McCarran airport, and to the downtown area (Fremont Street).

I think the target open date in January '04. My next trip to Vegas (next May) will be sans a car OR cab rides (save for the ride from the airport to the hotel).

Jerry
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Pinball and Coasters...Any Questions?

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Thursday, June 26, 2003 7:29 AM
janfrederick's avatar Actually, I'm all for personal transport. Getting anywhere far away on any mass transit system no matter how well run is just going to take longer. Now personal transportation will not work for dense places such as London or parts of LA.

That being said, to make personal; transportation work, two things must happen:

1) Develop alternate sources of energy. Fossil fuels are ruining the environment not to mention running out and causing us to get mixed up in business that we shouldn't be mixed up in.

2) We need more ride sharing during the work week. The main drawback to personal transportation is cost of infrastructure. California recently spent a billion dollars an about a three mile stretch of 880 that was destroyed in the eartthquake...so more freeways is difficult. But we can maximize what we have and plan for the future.

Sorry, I don't think mass transit is the only viable solution. I took the bus for years. I spent hours getting to and from school each day. Now I live much further from work, sit in traffic for a good part of that commute, and still spend less time getting around.

So, carpooling and alternative energy...

And for Disney, see what you get for not playing nice???

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"It's not a Too-mah!" - Arnold after riding Batman the Ride

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Thursday, June 26, 2003 7:35 AM
Rail travel continues to catch on in this country in pockets. If you live anywhere in the Northeast Corridor, Acela service is absolutely the best way to get to the downtown areas of any of the major east coast cities. SFO is *finally* connected to BART. My wife and I are going to see Varekai in Chicago next month, and are taking Amtrak to get there, since I do not relish trying to get around the lake on the highway during a summer weekend.

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http://www.eecs.umich.edu/~bnoble/

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Thursday, June 26, 2003 7:47 AM
Jeff's avatar Of course, only Vegas generates more business revenue in a couple of square miles than some small states. ;) Not a practical example for the rest of the world.

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Jeff - Webmaster/Admin - CoasterBuzz.com - Sillynonsense.com
DELETED!

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Thursday, June 26, 2003 7:52 AM
Slightly OT - gas here in the UK currently costs about $6.25 USD a gallon (and that's at the cheaper places)

and it's around 85% tax.

Ouch

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Thursday, June 26, 2003 8:52 AM
I guess my point was cooperation among competing businesses.

If the Mouse had offered to pitch in along with the I-Drive area attractions and Universal, they could've offset some of the taxpayer money that would have been used for construction. Hopefully, after a few years of operation, you pay off all the bonds, and the entire transit system is completely fare funded.

The Las Vegas casinos realize that even if I'm staying at Monte Carlo, I'm a whole lot more likely to make a trip to the Sahara if I have a safe, cheap and convenient ride there. I guess Disney's a little to greedy to allow that to happen, though.

And, I'm proud to say that I have contributed (on many occasions) to the "business revenue" Jeff refers to above. From Jeff's recent trip report, I gather he might have helped keep the neon flashing for the couple of days he was there! :)

Jerry
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Pinball and Coasters...Any Questions?

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Thursday, June 26, 2003 9:06 AM
The vast number of visitors to Orlando still consider Walt Disney World to be their destination. If they can do a side trip to Universal or Sea World then that is fine. From a business standpoint, why would Disney want their visitors to have to make several stops on the way to property instead of making a straight shot there?

The vast number of visitors going to Vegas consider Vegas to be their destination, not a specific hotel/resort. The casino operators know there is no way they can keep their guests secluded on property and they know their guests don't want that. So, in the spirit of making the entire town a better place to visit, the monorail is being built.

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Thursday, June 26, 2003 9:33 AM
janfrederick's avatar Then let them build it themselves.

If tax money is involved, then all of the local businesses should be involved.

Keep in mind that I LOVE trains. I was supremely disappointed to learn that Disney's origil plans to build the monorail to the airport were shot down way back when. Hmmm....sounds familiar...I think Mr. Knott may have had something to do with it.

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"It's not a Too-mah!" - Arnold after riding Batman the Ride

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Thursday, June 26, 2003 9:38 AM
The problem, Jeff, isn't one of destination. It's one of origin.

While many people are going to the same destination, many of them don't start that trip in a convenient proximity.

This would be like is Disney were served by 100 airports, instead of 1. That would be much harder to service w/ any sort of mass-transit.

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Thursday, June 26, 2003 10:11 AM
janfrederick's avatar By the way Jeff, I heard something recently about concerns about the environmental impact of fuel cells...something about leaking hydrogen thinning the ozone layer? It's all speculation anyway. Still, we'll have to figure our a way to deal without oil (unless we farm-raise whales).

Perhaps a portable fusion reactor would be better. Or better yet, wind-up cars or genetically engineered, hemp-seed-fed hampsters... ;)

Seriously, just to make it clear, I might joke about this, but it's pretty serious stuff we're talking about.

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"It's not a Too-mah!" - Arnold after riding Batman the Ride

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Thursday, June 26, 2003 11:02 AM
I happen to think that Disney is missing an excellent opportunity by being so selfish, and competitive. (selfishness and competive are usually considered assets in the free market).

How many people would make a return trip to Disney World if there were no other attraction in Orlando/Tampa? I would love to make the case to Disney, that by cooperating with thier competition, they increase the amount of return multi-day vacations to Orlando and the Disney property. My guess, is that the significant growth that has occured in Orlando has only helped Disney, they would be smart to encourage people to occasionally leave the property.

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Thursday, June 26, 2003 11:23 AM
This Florida high speed rail thing... it goes through cycles... it gets supported, then blown off. It's never going to happen. This is just another chapter in the saga.

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Is that a Q-bot in your pocket or are you just happy to see me?

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Thursday, June 26, 2003 12:50 PM
rollergator's avatar GP....exactly....

Reminds me more than a little about the plan for Venice to eliminate/reduce the sinking into the sea problem....the city keeps sinking into the marsh, and the politicians are having a hard time finding their fiddles...;)

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