The Palm Beach Post – Point of view: Elevate All Aboard route and make it an attraction

Posted on March 9, 2015

It seems doubtful that 21st-century high-speed passenger trains can run successfully on 19th-century freight-train tracks. Also, why would anyone want to sit in a train for hours watching the industrial backyards flash by, with an occasional glimpse of Interstate 95 with some of the cars going faster than the high-speed train? All Aboard Florida’s proposed route has created almost unanimous opposition.


Mariners such as myself pointed out that three cranky, almost 100-year-old drawbridges on the proposed route will dramatically interfere with one of Florida’s most vital industries: the marine industry.


Next, where is the hip-hip-hooray from the tourist industry, the travel industry and any potential passengers? There is none! There are no discernable passengers, no travel clubs, family groups or any other identified source of passengers giving All Aboard an “attaboy.” Note that the present Amtrak train to Orlando has scant passengers and government subsidy to keep it running.


How does All Aboard intend to pay off $2.2 billion in interest-free bonds? These bonds will sell like hotcakes in this low-yield era because they are insured by the government. This means, when AAF goes bankrupt, the taxpayers will be required to foot the bill.


On the other hand, if the AAF proposal was to build a true, modern, high-speed rail system, as other countries have, it would be up in the air where it would be visible and seen as a major attraction. I traveled in more than 100 countries and noted that modern passenger trains were off the ground or under the ground. Even Miami has its Metrorail in the sky. Beautiful, sleek modern rail cars zooming above the cities looking for all the world to see that the modernity has arrived in South Florida. Protests concerning dangerous grade crossings, emergency vehicles, noise, vibration, cranky antique drawbridges, traffic clogging downtown areas would all vanish. Instead, people would point with pride at the achievement of a 21st-century transportation achievement.


AAF, please turn your present plan from a liability to an asset. As is presented, you have turned the vast majority of us against you. We see only negatives, inconveniences and financial disaster. As a truly modern visible attraction, I predict a huge wave of enthusiasm would ensue, and we would all clamor for creating All Aboard Florida. If this happens, I pledge to be the first AAF booster.



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