12 June, 2011


Symbolic of the crash of Florida's High Speed Rail project, as predicted in this blog, the photo is of the recent Chinese HSR crash. First HSR wreck ever unless we get to count Florida.

Just came across another professionals article on High Speed Rail, and why he, like John Mica and myself agrees that the Florida HSR plan was a train wreck waiting to happen. The funniest part of all of this is the same old group of players who brought down America's vast electric railroad, interurban and streetcar line network is at it again. This just stresses the fact that the first HSR rail line MUST be a smashing success. It was that success or failure that had me communicate to the governor to kill it.

How to salvage Obama’s high-speed rail ‘disaster’
Former Interior Secretary Bruce Babbitt calls the rail plan — target of a coordinated attack by the Right — “a complete catastrophe,” and tells where the nation should focus.

Philip Langdon

With segments of the rail plan now cancelled in Florida, Ohio, and Wisconsin, and with some federal funding revoked by Congressional Republicans this month, Babbitt thinks we must approach rail planning much more strategically than the Obama administration did.

Of the president’s stated aim — provision of high-speed rail service to 80 percent of the American population in 25 years — Babbitt declared, “It’s fantasy.”

In his view, the Obama plan suffers from these critical flaws:

• Routes were poorly chosen. The Orlando-to-Tampa line — 84 miles mostly in an Interstate highway corridor — would have run from one city that’s “not a model of transit” to another city with the same transit deficiency. Said Babbitt: “Frankly, it’s not surprising that the governor of Florida [when offered 90 percent of the funds to construct the line] turned it down.”

• Goals were defined vaguely. They were not hammered out through extensive discussion and political brokering — activities essential, in Babbitt’s judgment, to the program’s success.

• “The president didn’t help his visionary statement by holding up the transcontinental railroad as a model.” One-hundred-forty million acres were distributed to railroads through that post-Civil War enterprise, which led to the Crédit Mobilier scandal — “one of the largest government-sponsored fraudulent ventures of all time.”

NOTE: In the Federal Application there is a question, "why build this project?" One of the several reasons given was: "because its fun." The route was bad, the station locations worse, ridership numbers ridiculous and it would take that train longer to travel from Tampa to Miami then a regular Amtrak train at 90 mph on a more direct route. Makes you wonder if any of those planners ever drove Alligator Alley? Does anyone besides me smell a mouse in all of this?

Resistance from the Right

Ambitious rail plans have been subjected to a fierce campaign of disparagement in recent months. The Heritage Foundation, the Cato Institute, and the Reason Foundation have worked particularly hard to defeat the Obama rail plan, Todorovich told the gathering of about 30 journalists from around the country.

For companies that profit from the highway system and automobile-reliant means of transportation, the libertarian or conservative foundations have proven to be useful torch-bearers. SourceWatch, part of the Center for Media and Democracy, reports that Ford Motor, General Motors, DaimlerChrysler, ExxonMobil, Chevron, Shell Oil, and the Western States Petroleum Association have been among the donors to the Reason Foundation. David H. Koch of Koch Industries, once described by the Center for Public Integrity as "the biggest oil company you have never heard of," is a Reason trustee.

SourceWatch says Chevron, ExxonMobil, and the auto-maker Honda have been among Heritage’s contributors, though corporate donations to Heritage are small when compared than those made by individuals and foundations. Over the years, Heritages backers in the foundation world have included the Charles G. Koch Charitable Foundation, the Walton Family Foundation, and three Scaife foundations.

Cato, founded by Edward H. Crane and Charles Koch, has over the years received donations from corporate supporters including the American Petroleum Institute, ExxonMobil, General Motors, Honda North America, Toyota, Volkswagen of America, and Wal-Mart Stores, according to SourceWatch.

NOTE: Jacksonville's streetcar system (AND 45 OTHERS) was sold out by Motor Transit which was a subsidiary of National City Lines which was a subsidiary of: Firestone Tire, Standard Oil of California (now Chevron Corporation), Phillips Petroleum (now part of ConocoPhillips), General Motors, Mack Trucks.

Nonetheless, Todorovich thinks rail projects can gain considerable support from the populace and some of it from Republicans who hold elective office. After the new governor of Florida, Rick Scott, rejected $2.4 billion in federal funds for the Orlando-Tampa rail route, 24 states, including 11 with Republican governors, applied for portions of the money that Florida gave up.

In the case of interstate highways, “Babbitt maintained, the only way we got clarity was through federal legislation,” and that’s the only way to nail down a high-speed program for the Eastern seaboard

NOTE: Remember the Federal plan to extend the Northeast Corridor to FLORIDA. So in the broader meaning of this is SOUTHEAST HIGH SPEED RAIL, and Jacksonville will benefit first.

Like Babbitt and like Rep. John Mica, the Florida Republican who chairs the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, Todorovich thinks “we ought to invest first in the places with the greatest ridership ... the greatest chance of success.”

That strategy favors the Northeast Corridor, which has been the subject of three recent studies — a Northeast Corridor Infrastructure Master Plan prepared in May 2010 by representatives of 12 states, Amtrak, and other entities; a separate Amtrak design report; and a University of Pennsylvania study that was presented to no less than Vice President Joseph Biden.

On the bright side, she noted that Rep. Mica has been bringing members of his committee — some of whom represent rural areas — to urban locales to improve their understanding of passenger rail networks and the places they serve. Babbitt’s proposal for a Northeast-focused federal rail act is “a great idea,” she said, adding that it “would have to be matched by federal funding.”

To obtain the maximum benefits from better rail service, “there needs to be a concerted strategy around stations,” Todorovich said. “It works best in center cities.”

NOTE: Which is why Orlando's location would have failed. In this country rail travel tends to be regional and is usually a choice between a drive or a train. So most of your passenger base must come from the area around the stations, and that includes travelers who are staying temporarily in the area. If a family wants to go from Orlando to Tampa it's a choice of driving or train, flying plays no real part in the decision process and if the train is troublesome to get to they'll drive. Orlando already has the PERFECT HSR station and it's found on Church Street.

Nonetheless, Todorovich thinks rail projects can gain considerable support from the populace and some of it from Republicans who hold elective office. After the new governor of Florida, Rick Scott, rejected $2.4 billion in federal funds for the Orlando-Tampa rail route, 24 states, including 11 with Republican governors, applied for portions of the money that Florida gave up.

NOTE: The saddest part of this story is the FACT that a direct railroad line has existed between Tampa Union Station and Miami which if rebuilt to 90 mph standards would beat the socks off of a bullet train between the same two cities. Florida was in the wrong place, with the wrong train and that cost us the ball game.

So SORRY for Orlando-Tampa-Miami, but its time for us to reopen Jacksonville Terminal and get ready for it, because buddy, it's headed our way. Florida's most powerful politicians seem to understand that if you are going to sell ice cubes to Eskimos, you'll have to do it one cube at a time.

All quotes in this post are from: http://newurbannetwork.com/article/how-salvage-obama%E2%80%99s-high-speed-rail-%E2%80%98disaster%E2%80%99-14561

1 comment:

  1. Interesting blog. It would be great if you can provide more details about it. Thanks you
    Yüz Germe



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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