The Razzle-Dazzle of All Aboard Florida

Publish Date: 
Thursday, August 14, 2014 - 9:00am

by Thomas F. Campenni August 13, 2014

How do you sell an old tired product? If you are All Aboard Florida, you take an antiquated and money-losing idea and make it seem fresh and alluring. You tell the public that it will bring jobs and tourists. You will proclaim that the product is needed and that it is a demand waiting to be fulfilled. You commission a few bogus studies and send some campaign contributions to the right people. You obfuscate and mystify facts and truth. Your mantra is that you are privately funded at the same time you go to the government and the taxpayers for the capital to modernize your infrastructure. That is in spite of the fact that your company has $64 billion in capitalization. Chutzpa is my way to describe this type of veracity.

I assume that All Aboard Florida thought they would have some opposition to this plan. They believed they could just steam roll over the locals because of their corporate power and connections. With a little public relations effort, they knew that we on the Treasure Coast would fold with the inevitability of their blitzkrieg. Well, it hasn’t happened that way. A grass roots effort was begun and residents didn’t quite see themselves as being powerless against this corporatist onslaught. Most elected leaders for our area at the federal, state and local levels sided with their constituents instead of that very special interest.

This entire idea of the return of passenger rail is shrouded in nostalgia. For that notion reminds the American people of a time that is generations removed from how we actually live today. It reminds us of a time before interstates and airplanes. A time when autos did not dominate because they were unreliable and the roads did not allow for fast and speedy travel. In effect, a time that ceased with the end of World War II and modern America. To AAF the future is here in an early 19th century mode of transportation.

AAF wants us to believe that we citizens are standing in the way of progress. That it is we who are nostalgic to keep our way of life in spite of all the good things that the train can bring as it speeds at 70 or 100 or 110 miles an hour through our towns. If that is the way that AAF measures progress, then please let us not be part of their modernity. We are not asking that the Treasure Coast remain frozen in time, for change is inevitable. What we are saying is that we do not want to face the future by subsidizing an un-needed passenger rail service because that mode of transportation has not been profitable in almost a century. The costs in our money and way of life cannot be justified.