27 December, 2009

VIDEO, Passengers on the Florida East Coast



In November 2009 a train consisting of the private rail cars of the American Association Private Cars Owners , rolled down the Florida East Coast Ry, on a tour! After the death of it's founder, Henry M. Flagler, the FEC skidded in and out of a bankruptcy that lasted until the 1960's. 25% of all revenue was from the huge fleet of passenger trains, and passenger trains represented 75% of the roads traffic.

Sadly, the anti-public, union busting, maverick railroad, was known over the next 20 years as the little railroad with a big stick. Constantly improving and raking in profits with renewed energy in freight traffic, the railroad had no time for pleasure. ANYONE caught on FEC property would be immediately escorted to the nearest exit, and any delay would result in arrest, on the spot. No pictures, no passengers, no railroad fans, no buildings, no nonsense, high returns, and more "NO TRESSPASSING," signs then . Good Business? Maybe, but so much ill will was garnered that when the company joined the Rail America family, the public was shocked at the friendly reception. It was time for a change.

Suddenly the FEC RY is flirting with the passenger business, and is working with the Florida Department of Transportation, Amtrak and the east coast communities, to create a new East Coast Corridor. Test trains and private cars, something unheard of only a few years ago are again becoming common. It appears that the axe has been buried and the railroad is back as the Speedway To America's Playground.

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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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