Saturday, March 5, 2011

Florida High Speed Rail = FAIL

Thankfully the high speed rail to nowhere in Florida was rejected by Governor Rick Scott.

First, it's only 68 miles from Orlando to Tampa.  By car it takes only an hour.  It takes about 3 gallons of gas at best.  That's about $11.  And at IRS standard mileage rates it costs $34.  What do you want to guess a ticket for the bullet train to nowhere would cost?  $60?  Multiply that by a family of four and you're at $240 to make a one hour car trip!  You could rent a luxury car for a week at that rate.

Second, it arrives in downtown Tampa!  Excuse me?  What are you going to do in downtown Tampa?  There's nothing there.  I mean it's OK as far as medium large cities go, but nearly everything anyone would want to do is miles and miles from the downtown.  So you're forced now to find a cab or bus and hire transportation to where you really wanted to go.  Try finding a cab in Tampa.  It's not NY City or Chicago.  When you do finally get one, add $25 dollars and about 35 minutes to travel time you wouldn't have had if you took a car in the first place.  And don't forget to double that to get back to the bullet train terminal.  So add and extra hour or more of travel time and $50.

And don't forget that you  had to drive to the bullet train terminal in Orlando, pay to park, then wait on the train.  Add at least 30 minutes travel time and another $10 at least to park.

So now that 60 minute trip by car is already taking 70 minutes NOT COUNTING THE TRAIN TRIP!  And for that privilege your paying an extra $60 in cabs and parking not counting the train ticket.

Third, let's talk real speed.  Travel time will be about one hour for the train trip because it will make a number of stops to "awesome" places like downtown Lakeland.  I can imagine the one person getting off there!  But the Dems had to get those good old boys on the Federal gravy train.

Fourth, the cost to operate the train (not counting any construction costs, over runs, etc) is estimated to be $130 million a year.  Three round trips a day.

130,000,000 / by 365 days a year = $356,164 per day operating costs.

Three round trips a day = $118,721 per round trip, or $59,360 per one-way trip.

Let's suppose this:  400 passengers per train (pure fantasy, but let's be generous to the "bridge to the19th Century" crowd).  Times 6 one-way jaunts = 2400 one way tickets a day.   That means a one-way ticket would have to be $24.73 each to break even!  For a family of 4 that's $100 for a one-way trip that takes the same time as by car and lands you in downtown Tampa!  And they would have to add parking  and ground transportation once they leave the train.

Fifth, would you even notice a drop of 2400 passengers a day on I-4 (not cars, passengers)?  No way!

Sixth, the above doesn't even begin to address repaying on the "investment" of 2.4 billion tax dollars.  Over thirty years cost recovery that would be $80 million a year.  Add that to the $130 million operating estimate (a gov. estimate by the way....and we know what that means!) and you have $210 million a year.  Now the one-way ticket needs to be $39.95 each!

At $40 per one way ticket for a train that won't even come close to 200 mph and will take every bit as long as a car to get where it's going, the ridership is going to be non-existent.

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