03 December, 2007

Florida East Coast Local to Miami, mid-1960's, why not to Gainesville - TODAY?

If you have already read the piece on the Del Monte Train, in the right column, then note this photo of the "FLorida East Coast Local To Miami," leaving Jacksonville at 9:55 AM in 1966. Not unlike the Del Monte, the Local carried a regular long distance coach, and a tavern-lounge-observation car. The lounge car served light snacks, meals and cold drinks. As a City and as a reigon, it is time for Jacksonville to organize with our neighboring locales and push for the return of these types of services to places such as Tallahassee, Pensacola, Fernandina Beach, and Gainesville. As the one-time hub of Southeastern Railroading, we cannot afford to sit back and wait for Congress or Amtrak to do this for us. We need to be pro-active and get involved in the processes that brought about such things as the Cascade Corridor trains in the Pacific Northwest, Amtrak North Carolina, Amtrak California and maybe even the return of the Del Monte. The route to Gainesville is part mainline, and part excellent branchline, traffic on half of the route is very light, and the door is open.

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The arguments rage to this date, "Should have never been built," "waste of taxpayer money," "Doesn't go anywhere," "Nobody rides it..." etc. Bottom line is we have it, and it is finally showing signs of life. Simple extensions to the Stadium, San Marco, and the area of Blue Cross in North Riverside would turn this little train around. Addition of Park and Ride garages and multimodal transit terminals at the end points would bring on the crowds. The video must have been shot on a Sunday Morning, as downtown is certainly as packed with life as any other major City on weekdays. Jacksonville is a city of Bikes, joggers, walkers, buses and cars, one almost wonders how the photographer managed to find this quiet moment.

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