Florida is getting a what?

President Obama was in Tampa, Florida Thursday announcing that he is so concerned about the mounting federal deficit that he will spend $1.25 billion of your hard earned money to help build a high speed train that will run between Orlando International Airport and downtown Tampa.  As a Floridian, thank you America.

Governor Charlie Crist (R-Fla.) was unable to be at the “ceremony”, but, did intend to meet the president at the Tampa airport, no doubt to give him a hug…in private this time.

The total cost to build this boondoggle is estimated to be about $2.6 billion, and, at the moment, it is any one’s guess where the remaining $1.35 billion will come from.  Florida is as cash strapped as most states with unemployment running around 11% at last count.  Our budget had to be slashed last year in spite of increased fees and taxes on everything from cigarettes to fishing licences, and this year looks to be even more dismal.  When asked about the remaining funds needed to cover the total cost, Orlando Mayor, Buddy Dyer, explained,

he is not worried about Florida getting less than its entire request, predicting more money will be available in coming years. Congress is expected to set aside an additional $5 billion for high-speed rail in future budgets. [emphasis supplied]

Thank you again, hard working Americans.

But, there is even more good news for the taxpayers of Florida.

The state expects the train could actually turn a small profit after operating and maintenance and replacement costs are counted.

Annual revenue is supposed to be $53 million, with expenses coming in at a little more than $52 million…

Wow, it actually could turn a profit?  What better incentive could anyone have for opening a new business than the firm belief that it “actually could turn a profit.”

Cynic that I am, I decided to look into the revenue side.  The train will start at the Orlando airport, and it’s second stop will be at Disney.  It is estimated that a majority of the train’s ridership will come from this segment of the rail.  In 2002, the state estimated a one way fare from the airport to Disney would be $12 per person.

Digging deeper, let me pose the following question.  You and your spouse decide to take your 2 teenage daughters to Disney.  You fly into Orlando and have two options.  You can take the high speed train (which you built with your tax dollars) for a total cost for your family of $48 one way.  Or, you can climb on a  Disney Magical bus for a total cost for your family of…nothing!

Hum, perhaps we Floridians shouldn’t be thanking you for your generosity after all.

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The Sound Off Sister was an Assistant United States Attorney for the Southern District of Florida, and special trial attorney for the Department of Justice, Criminal Division; a partner in the Florida law firm of Shutts & Bowen, and an adjunct professor at the University of Miami, School of Law. The Sound Off Sister offers frequent commentary concerning legislation making its way through Congress, including the health reform legislation passed in early 2010.


  1. Dimsdale on January 28, 2010 at 6:46 pm

    Fools, damn fools, and politicians….

    • Wyndeward on February 2, 2010 at 11:31 am

      But you repeat yourself…

  2. gillie28 on January 28, 2010 at 10:49 pm

    tsk, tsk, sos.  Just think of all those ticket collectors that will be put to work: all two of them (one for each shft).

  3. Anne-EH on January 29, 2010 at 8:09 am

    SoundOffSister, your excellent blog posting was posted last night over at Free Republic and it got close to 40 post comments. Here is the URL :

    • SoundOffSister on January 29, 2010 at 8:35 am

      Thanks Anne.  I truly loved the comments, particularly those from fellow Floridians who will be stuck footing the bill for this forever.

  4. MQ on January 29, 2010 at 8:56 am

    Thanks Anne.  I truly loved the comments, particularly those from fellow Floridians who will be stuck footing the bill for this forever.

    Do you really think it will be Florida, stuck with footing the bill?  That's absurd, federal money will flow into this bottomless pit forever, just like Amtrak, MNR, LIRR, SEPTA SFRTA, and every other rail authority.  WE and that means every American will be footing the bill for ever.

    • Wyndeward on February 2, 2010 at 11:41 am

      This speaks nothing of the ancillary problems that these trains could bring with them.

      For example, what do you think would happen to inter-city soccer hooliganism in England if there wasn't cheap, subsidized rail service between, say, Manchester and London for the ICF and other football firms to ride?

      More locally, the Baltimore to Hunt Valley light rail has allowed criminals greater mobility.

      This is make-do work that will cause more problems than it could ever solve.

  5. MQ on January 29, 2010 at 8:59 am

    A little more info on this Florida fiasco.

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