Finally, there is reason to get excited about rail travel in Florida.
This comes after years of claims that taxpayers must pay for trains because the private sector -- meanies who only think about profits and not important things liberals want like windmills and bike trails -- would never run passenger trains.
The reason actually was that it didn’t make sense. Mass transit is all about density but the population in South Florida now has reached the point where Florida East Coast Railways believes it can run a profitable operation.
The company plans to begin running passenger service from Orlando to Miami by 2014.
It already owns most of the right of way, thanks to the visionary Henry Flagler, who built the FEC more than a century ago.
He, along with Henry Plant and others, made Florida a prosperous worldwide destination and created thousands of jobs and billions of dollars of wealth. Liberals view him -- along with Henry Ford, John D. Rockefeller, Andrew Carnegie and other philanthropists -- as a “robber baron.” He made a profit, you know.
Only sleazy politicians who create wealth solely for themselves and their friends are fit to be objects of veneration, it seems. They “invest” your money in ventures like Solyndra.
In any case, the planned rail service would engender thousands of jobs and ease traffic in the east coast corridor somewhat. That should save taxpayers road maintenance costs and save travelers fuel costs.
We might digress for a moment on that score to note the hilarity of Democrats bashing George Bush for high gasoline prices four years ago, but remaining strangely silent about the much higher prices now. If they say anything, it is to blame Bush for the current prices. They still view Bush in a bifurcated way as terminally stupid but so devilishly clever that he has managed to thwart many of his successor’s brilliant plans.
Rail travel was popular before modern autos and modern highways. When the individual choice and freedom autos provided, and the advent of air travel, caused rail travel to decline – surprise! – companies that wanted to stay in business stopped running passenger trains.
The trip from Orlando to Miami would take three hours, FEC says. According to Google maps, the driving time from Disney World to Biscayne Boulevard currently is three hours and 48 minutes.
Eventually, the route could be extended to Tampa and Jacksonville.
If FEC can deliver swift, comfortable, modern rail travel at a price travelers will accept this could be a win-win situation for the state.
If the venture fails, it will be FEC’s problem, not a headache for Florida families.
Unlike government, the private sector rewards success and punishes failure.
Lloyd Brown was in the newspaper business nearly 50 years, beginning as a copy boy and retiring as editorial page editor of the Florida Times-Union in Jacksonville.
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