Sunday, June 27, 2010

A Downtown Orlando Stop for High Speed Rail

It is incredible to me that our local Greater Orlando political leaders have been silent on the issue of a downtown Orlando stop for high speed rail.   It appears as though they are placidly accepting the plans put forth by the engineers and technocrats without considering some very basic issues.  Political leaders need to have vision and make sure that vision is carried out.

Having high speed rail go to Disney, the convention center and the airport is not vision. It's a sub-optimal solution and smacks of catering to airport interests and the tourist industry at the expense of Greater Orlando and its citizen-taxpayers.

There are only two segments that can be called high speed rail, Tampa to Lakeland, and Lakeland to Orlando.  The remaining segments are too short to achieve any speed.  The Lakeland-Orlando segment should terminate in downtown Orlando.  The other segments will best be served by light rail.

A downtown station is the optimal solution for Orlando and Florida High Speed Rail because:

  • Downtown is the most likely destination, or at least the center of all possible destinations in Greater Orlando
  • Downtown is a logical place to connect to SunRail which will service the areas north and south of downtown
  • A downtown station will promote high quality renewal and growth in the downtown core
  • Very few passengers will have the airport as their final destination
  • Having a downtown station will reduce car traffic in the downtown core
  • A downtown station will minimize transfers and changes of transportation modes
  • Vehicle miles traveled, vehicle emissions, and congestion will be minimized by a downtown station
  • Finally, after all is said and done the regret of not having a downtown station will be far greater than regret over any extra cost

It may cost more for a downtown station, but innovative funding can be sought involving all stakeholders that will benefit.

Where there’s a will, there’s a way. Wake up Orlando!  Demand what's right.  Let’s make it happen!

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