Published on December 13th, 2017 | by Cynthia Shahan0
Florida To Launch USA’s 1st Private High-Speed Train Service
December 13th, 2017 by Cynthia Shahan
It is hopeful transit news for popular corridors of Florida, where many a highway traveler encounters stifling streams of traffic congestion. The country’s first private high-speed train service is launching this month in Florida. Residents and travelers will enjoy the better option that many of us have been wanting for decades.
NPR (National Public Radio) confirms that the country’s first private high-speed rail service, aiming to take as many as 3 million cars off the road in congested South Florida. In many places such as Florida, rail options rapidly disappeared with the federal highway system expansion, but some are coming back to life.
“The federal highway system expanded … and everyone got off trains and into cars,” John Guitar of All Aboard Florida told Here & Now in 2014. “And we’ve done a full circle now that the traffic and congestion and gas prices are so bad — people are looking for alternatives to get out of their cars and find other ways to get around the state.”
This will help, but there is not enough consideration of ways around endless driving, traffic, and streams of more and more cars (whether electric robotaxis or not).
People are attached to their SUVs. At least I see more hybrid SUVs in Florida, but another SUV is another SUV, and another gas-burning SUV is another gas-burning SUV. Perhaps sitting in lines of traffic will be a bit better without tremendous air pollutants. However, mass transit is the healthier and thus happier option for many of us.
NPR reports: “The ambitious $3 billion Brightline express project will run along the state’s densest population corridor with more than 6 million residents and a regular influx of tourists. The project, funded by All Aboard Florida, represents the first test of the long-awaited U.S. move into high-speed rail, says John Renne, director of the Center for Urban and Environmental Solutions at Florida Atlantic University.”
“It’s the first time that it’s happening, being built by a private company,” Renne tells Here & Now’s Jeremy Hobson. “And that’s a kind of game-changer for this type of model.”
Inclusive and built around ease and interconnectedness, the model bring tried here will develop retail, restaurants, and condominiums around the stations — a format that has worked well in plenty of other places.
“When the service starts this month, Brightline trains will run from West Palm Beach to Fort Lauderdale. Service will expand into downtown Miami early next year and likely to Orlando in the future. Renne says the trip from West Palm to Miami, which can take up to five hours round trip in a car, will take about 60 minutes each way on the train.”
Miami traffic and the pollution it has you sitting in.
NPR continues: “Beyond slashing travel times, Renne says the construction of private mixed-use real estate developments at each station will bring in hundreds of millions of dollars in new revenue. He explains that potential revenue was lost when the government shifted control of transportation to the public sector in the 1920s.
“‘When that happened, we lost the connection between the development around the stations and the rail service itself, and we started building a lot of parking lots around the stations,’ he says. More people stopped using public transportation because ‘once they’re in their car, they might as well just drive the whole way.'”
Florida, like the US in general, is still not up to speed (let alone green speed) with fast trains compared to trains in other countries. And while India is jumping on solar trains, we’re pumping more and more gas.
“Even though All Aboard Florida refers to Brightline as ‘high-speed rail,’ Renne says the actual speed pales in comparison to trains overseas. He says Brightline trains will max out at about 120 mph and will run even slower – around 80 mph – during the rollout.
“Renne says Brightline trains will have their own dedicated set of tracks, built alongside 19th-century lines that still carry cargo trains. The return to passenger trains will revive a line that stopped running on those old tracks in the 1960s, with the arrival of the federal highway program.”
One area of concern is housing costs. They will go up. The service workers in the area and people needing lower housing costs — as well as transit — may be left out. Transit-oriented development, ironically, often comes at the cost of affordable housing.
Images via Brightline