All Aboard Florida!
While not directly related, recent news of a planned passenger rail service linking Miami and Orlando certainly drew our interest. As the most populated and traveled parts of our state, we know all too well the impacts traveling have on the land and wildlife of central and south Florida.
Each year, highly endangered Florida panthers suffered numerous fatalities due to collisions with automobiles.
Recent proposals by Florida East Coast Industries (FECI) though may help alleviate this road congestion that causes so many deadly encounters between man and wildlife.
Approximately 50 million people per year travel between Orlando and Miami according to the company, which has a long history dating back to Henry Flagler and the construction of the first land route to Miami. In response to the demand for travel between Orlando and Miami, the costs to travel by car and other factors, FECI is launching an ambitious effort to offer passenger rail service between the two metropolises by 2014.
Much of the feasibility for the rail service lies in the fact that FECI owns the track and right of way along the coast. The company is building the line’s final link between Cocoa and Orlando to complete the route. Future plans call for service to Jacksonville and Tampa, linking a huge bulk of Florida’s population to passenger rail.
Besides providing a comfortable and cost-effective travel option (…approximately 3 hours total), the All Aboard Florida line will include stops and access to airports, seaports and commuter rail systems in Orlando, West Palm, Ft. Lauderdale and Miami.
Trains will cruise at around 80 mph and integrate well with FECI’s existing freight lines. Cabins will include coach and first-class options as well as WI-FI.
Anyone on the go can certainly appreciate that!
(See an infographic from All Aboard Florida below)
Economically, the new line is expected to create thousands of quality jobs, something our state has certainly suffered from a lack of in recent years. According to FECI, over 6,000 construction jobs will be required along with over 1,000 permanent personnel for operations.
Taxpayers and citizens of Florida will also realize benefits in terms of reduced road maintenance and construction costs and will not bear any financial risk.
In terms of Florida’s environment though, we consider this a big step forward in the history of our state.
Not only does this service have the potential to reduce congestion on highways, pollution from car exhaust and reduced chance of fatal encounters with wildlife, the All Aboard Florida line can serve as a spur for redeveloping areas of south Florida that superhighways left behind long ago.
We’re delighted and encouraged by this news of a privately funded and operated passenger rail service coming to Florida.
We wish FECI the best of luck in its endeavors and look forward to taking that first trip in 2014.