If you’re looking for a work of fiction to invigorate the summer doldrums, I highly recommend the “All Aboard Florida Ridership and Revenue Study,” released last week by the rail company as part of its legal fight with Indian River and Martin counties.
The 154-page document, which purports to be “an investment grade ridership and revenue forecast for the re-introduction of passenger rail service,” is all that and much more.
Skilled fiction writers have the ability to draw readers into an imaginary world of surprise and enchantment. The authors of the study — the Louis Berger Group Inc. — achieve this objective by creating an alternate reality unlike anything we’ve seen in these parts.
From the rapturous executive summary to the mind-blowing conclusion, “Ridership and Revenue” paints a bold vision: millions of state residents and visitors traveling north and south on All Aboard Florida’s Miami-to-Orlando passenger rail line.
How many millions?
Well, 5.35 million riders in 2020, according to the authors.
Let’s crunch the numbers.
That works out to 14,657 passengers per day on AAF’s 32 daily trains — or 458 passengers per train — in 2020.
Consider this analogy: There are roughly 575,000 residents in Indian River, Martin and St. Lucie counties. If only Treasure Coast residents rode the train, every resident in our region would need to make at least nine trips in 2020 for All Aboard Florida to reach its ridership goal.
The fiction is bolstered by the revelation, on page 15 of “Ridership and Revenue,” that the authors used a “conservative approach” to arrive at their figures.
One-way tickets from Miami to Orlando would cost $93.80 for coach and $143.46 for business class, according to the study.
Though “Ridership and Revenue” was released initially to a limited market — i.e., as a legal brief in All Aboard Florida’s case against Indian River and Martin counties — I fully expect it to rocket up the charts on Amazon.com.