ARTICLE: CHAN LOWE - ALL ABOARD THE TRAIN TO NOWHERE

Publish Date: 
Wednesday, July 30, 2014 - 8:30am

Article by Chan Lowe, July 14, Sun Sentinel

The All Aboard Florida people visited the Sun Sentinel editorial board a couple of weeks ago to make a pitch for their intercity train. I have to admit that their presentation was quite slick. They had plans, maps, and impressive architect’s renderings. They also had glib responses to some of the more salient misgivings voiced by opponents to their project.

My favorite was the balm they offered to residents who live within earshot of the (federally required) train whistles up and down the line where the tracks cross a road. For those unfortunate enough to populate the vast area along the track between West Palm Beach and Orlando, there’s no advantage whatsoever to the passenger rail service , because they live too far from the stations. All they get is noise and rumbling, over thirty times per day.

They told us that the crossings could be upgraded to a level where the feds would no longer require the whistles. They went on to say that, thanks to various federal and state grants, as well as a contribution from AAF, localities would have to pay only a fraction of the expense of this upgrade.

Of course, AAF’s argument conveniently glossed over the fact that if the service didn’t exist in the first place, nobody would have to pay for anything at all.

I love trains, and always have.  But to me, AAF faces the same psychological barrier as Tri-Rail: why take public transit when you can drive the distance in your own car? It’s practically an American human right.

And if AAF doesn’t catch the imagination of riders, there’ll be no commercial development around the stations, as envisioned by the investors . It could turn out to be a massive bust.