Florida High Speed Rail to Route Through Disney


According to an article over at Senator Bill Nelson confirmed that a High Speed rail system is headed to Central Florida. The announcement will come Thursday morning in Tampa that federal money, as much as $8 billion, will be used to build rail systems all over the country. The first being in Florida. Now the interesting part comes from where this first part will go. It will go from Orlando, to Disney, to Tampa….yes…Orlando to DISNEY.

Now before you go getting all in an uproar as I did, realize that this is just phase 1 of a 3 phase project that will eventually link the rail all the way to Miami. But it does raise an eyebrow….Orlando to Disney? What right does Disney have to get federal money for a personal link from the airport (presumably) to the it’s front door? Apparently a lot of right. Disney is the #1 visited place in Florida, possibly the country, and a rail would be a great time saver…think about it, it would take all of what? Five minutes?

The rail is expected to cost around 2.5 billion dollars and would be one of the safest most cost efficient and environmentally friendly modes of transportation in Orlando. In the article  Senator Nelson says “”This will be one of the largest boosts to the state’s economy since Disney, since the Interstate highway system,” And he’s right. It will be. The proposed system not only will have three main stops at first, but has the option to go all over the state and will have stations (not sure if those are stops or just maintenance areas) in as many as 10 cities.

It’s a great idea, and after careful reading, the Central Florida leg while expected to come first for obvious economical reasons, is only one of four designs submitted to the Transportation Department.

Still I’m not sure that, as a taxpayer, Disney should get what basically boils down to an airport shuttle for it’s guests. If it wants to fund part of the bill, I’m fine with it, but to get federal money to do it? Not really a great idea in this day and time. I love the idea of a high speed rail, but you have to question the ethics involved in this.

Lets look at the Pros

  • Brings more tourists to the area
  • Saves money normally spent on gas and car rentals to spend on more vacation purchases
  • Creates jobs in Orlando and eventually the entire state
  • Should be extra charge to go to Disney, and no longer free transportation

Now lets look at the cons

  • Could damage tourism by eliminating or limiting free transportation to Disney
  • Could damage the Car Rental industry by giving a huge new way to travel
  • Guests would be limited to Disney property without spending money on buses and cabs
  • State could spend money on something that could be a failure because tourists refuse to spend money to travel to Disney when they used to get it for free

Many concerns to look at before making a jump to a definite yes vote on that one. Any of the others routes I would be all for, but it just raises a lot of concerns when dealing with a line directly to Disney. Regardless, a train that goes 120mph does have a lot of advantages, which should outweigh the negatives. The first phase is hoped to be ready by 2015.

What do you think?