State leaders in Florida gathered yesterday to try to fine-tune the planned high-speed rail from Tampa to Orlando, scheduled to break ground in less than a year and open in 2015. There were conversations about oversight and hiring a consultant to oversee the line--the discussion comes days after a the New York Times piece described the Florida line as sort of a boondoggle, something that doesn't augur well for other HSR attempts, especially California's (the California link will probably be the next on deck to open after Florida's). Orlando is only a 90-minute drive from Tampa, and the HSR line would only shave about a half-hour from the trip because there are so many stops en-route. Also, Tampa and Orlando have practically non-existent public transit other than confusing and slow buses, so HSR riders will be stranded without reliable transportation once they reach their destination. Also not good: the route will hit downtown Tampa, but not Tampa’s airport. It would go to Orlando’s airport, but not downtown Orlando. "Proponents of high-speed rail worry that the new line... might hurt rather than help their cause, if it comes to be seen as little more than an expensive way to whisk tourists from Orlando International Airport to Walt Disney World, which is slated to get its own stop." It makes little sense, other than there was a purchased right-of-way, that central Florida was gifted so much HSR money by the feds, according to the Times. A planning group didn't even include Tampa to Orlando in a list of best routes for HSR, and adding in a Miami stop placed the the Florida line at #100 on their list of worthy HSR areas.
· Regional Leaders Meet to Share Details of HSR Link [TampaBay.com]
· Stimulus Plan for Florida Line Shows System of Weak Links [NY Times]
· High-Speed Rail to Take Out Buena Park Development? [Curbed LA]