Tri-Rail's success is critical to mas...

Tri-Rail's success is critical to mass transit's future in Florida

There are 18 comments on the South Florida Sun-Sentinel story from Mar 22, 2009, titled Tri-Rail's success is critical to mass transit's future in Florida. In it, South Florida Sun-Sentinel reports that:

Tri-Rail may be breaking ridership records, but it's on fiscal life support. Since its inception, Florida's only commuter rail service has been operating hat-in-hand, relying on the collective charity of annual contributions from the state and the three counties in which it operates.

Join the discussion below, or Read more at South Florida Sun-Sentinel.

Bill Neubauer

West Palm Beach, FL

#1 Mar 22, 2009
The trouble with Tri-Rail is fiscal blindness. It already has a reliable, dedicated revenue source, but its executives are too narrow minded to even see it.
THAT SOURCE IS PASSENGERS.
All they have to do is charge those passengers ooperational fares.
Look at it this way: When I return from somewhere north to one of South Florid's airports, I call for a taxi cab too take me from the airport to my home. It is the most convenient, reasonably priced way to get to my house.
I don't ask the legislature or the county or city commission too pay part of my taxi fare. That cabbie is doing what I want at a price I consider worth my while.
Is Tri-Rail offering convenient service? If so, it should establish a fare that will pay for it. If not, it should fold up.
The current economic shake-up is telling Americans something about realities. It has a message for Tri-Rail.
nuh uh

Vero Beach, FL

#2 Mar 22, 2009
Hard to imagine a more useless tax boondogle than Tri-Rail. Sure the Repugniscums love it as a source of bribes in exchange for big tax money giveaways to RR, but no taxpayer that looks at spending huge millions to haus around a few thousand commuters can support the continued tax rip off. Can't imagine a nicer payoff to the shut down of Tri-Rail than not being stuck as often at RR crossings waiting for a trian carrying four people to let traffic through.
nuh uh

Vero Beach, FL

#3 Mar 22, 2009
Bill Neubauer wrote:
The trouble with Tri-Rail is fiscal blindness. It already has a reliable, dedicated revenue source, but its executives are too narrow minded to even see it.
THAT SOURCE IS PASSENGERS.
All they have to do is charge those passengers ooperational fares.
Look at it this way: When I return from somewhere north to one of South Florid's airports, I call for a taxi cab too take me from the airport to my home. It is the most convenient, reasonably priced way to get to my house.
I don't ask the legislature or the county or city commission too pay part of my taxi fare. That cabbie is doing what I want at a price I consider worth my while.
Is Tri-Rail offering convenient service? If so, it should establish a fare that will pay for it. If not, it should fold up.
The current economic shake-up is telling Americans something about realities. It has a message for Tri-Rail.
So you think charging passengers a few thousand dollars for a ride on the Tri-Rail to cover operational costs is the way to go?
There's always a trade off between fare and ridership. The higher the fare, the lower the ridership. Even at five bucks a ride Tri-Rail carries only a small fraction of the ridership it was designed for. It just doesn't work on any other level other than providing graft opportunities for poltiicians and bureaucrats.
Actually, subsidizing taxi service and or increasing small bus service, community shuttles, etc., is alot more efficient and inexpensive way to boost commuter service, but, there just isn't the opportunity for big tax rip offs with this so the pols aren't interested.
Thibault

Ormond Beach, FL

#4 Mar 22, 2009
Excellent editorial!
A dedicated "funding source" for
Tri-Rail is imperative this legislative session.

Although the proponents of the Central Florida Commuter Rail project will tie their project to the Tri-Rail experience, they are completely different. With regard to the three county's involved in Tri-Rail and the three in Central Florida, there is little similarity between travel patterns, policy, cost, highway network, population, land use and economy.

With regard to ridership numbers of the Central Florida project, these numbers appear high given the past ridership projections. There appears to be a consistency and credibility issue.

Fund Tri-Rail and re-examine the Central Florida Commuter Rail Project.
Sunday 1245 PM

Palm Harbor, FL

#5 Mar 22, 2009
In 1988 Tallahassee promised south Floridians relief to their I-95 congestion with the creation of Tri-Rail and at the same time they promised all Floridians that they would expand Tri-Rail into a statewide passenger rail system connecting all the State's major urban areas. They also promised a dedicated funding source would be in place by the time FDOT quit funding Tri-Rail's operation within seven years so that the counties didn't have to sacrifice schools and other worthy public services just to pay for commuter trains. Eleven years later FDOT announced they were ready to expand Tri-Rail service into a statewide passenger rail system under the title of The Florida Intercity Passenger Rail Vision Plan with the promise that it would be fully implemented by 2005 but they and the Governor and the legislature still hadn't come up with the previously promised dedicated funding source for even Tri-Rail so the counties continued to bite the bullet and pay for it's operation out of local funds that could have been better spent on schools and other worthy public services.
But then in 2006 the Governor and some in State leadership announced that a brand new "commuter rail" system needed to be developed and that this new local commuter rail project for Orlando was needed first before we could have a statewide passenger rail system, a system that just six short years before they said would be running by 2005. And yet there was still no dedicated funding source for south Florida's Tri-Rail.
Sunday 1245 PM

Palm Harbor, FL

#6 Mar 22, 2009
Now in 2009 we continue to hear that Orlando's commuter rail start-up is key to a Florida statewide passenger rail service that will give 18 million permanent residents and 60 million annual tourists a mobility option to see all the State's theme parks and tourist venues without needing to drive everywhere while Tri-Rail celebrates record ridership, five times more ridership than Orlando's SunRail is projected to have, and still Tallahassee is trying to figure out how to give three counties in south Florida the right to raise money from a dedicated funding source without having to steal from their children's education or health services for their elderly and children and homeless or even public safely and jails for the criminals that jeopardize their citizen's well being.
Sunday 1245 PM

Palm Harbor, FL

#7 Mar 22, 2009
So why should any south Florida State Senator or Representative believe anything concerning the current CSX-FDOT-SunRail deal when for over twenty years the folks in leadership in Tallahassee and at FDOT have continually broken their promise to south Florida and all of the State's citizens about a statewide rail passenger system similar to what California has had for over twenty years. And why would any State Senator or Representative vote yes for the FDOT Orlando deal especially since Senator Dockery has provided proof repeatedly that the Deal is nothing but corporate welfare to a very profitable private railroad company when this Congress and the new Administration has provided federal legislation that forces the use of private railroad tracks for public passenger use plus federal funding for 100% of the capital costs necessary to build Orlando's commuter rail and the statewide intercity passenger rail systems, thus allowing the use of the $1 billion Florida taxpayer funds currently allocated to the CSX FDOT Deal to be freed up to be used for schools, health care, and other worthy public services.

Senator Dockery has even proven to everyone that wants to know the truth that the money FDOT claims they have for the Deal and can only be used for transportation projects like CSX Orlando SunRail, actually came from a state revenue source that prior to 2005 and enactment of a new "growth management" bill was part of the general fund being used for schools and the like.

So who should you believe; your own personal experience in south Florida with how Tallahassee has treated Tri-Rail and your money or more promises from a bunch that wants to give CSX ten times more value for the same amount of track thru Orlando than Massachusetts is giving CSX in a similar deal near Boston, right now?
alex

Boca Raton, FL

#8 Mar 22, 2009
The true cost of transportation is never obvious. While many drivers consider only gas and car maintenance when calculating a commute, there also is the cost of the road itself. Taxpayers fund the creation and maintenance of our roads. The cost of mass transit is no different. Tax payers should expect to fund mass transit (bus, rail, airport operations) through their taxes.

That said, I see Tri-Rail as failed mass transit program. The route simply isn't viable as mass transit backbone.(Unless, of course, you live and work next to I-95.) Tri-Rail will never succeed in reducing traffic because they have never cared about how their riders get to/from the stations. If they had free, safe, and clean express shuttles to dense areas like FLL, Downtown Ft Lauderdale, and Miami, they might survive.

The real solution would be to move Tri-Rail to the CSX rail backbone. Additionally, East-West light rail or express busses need to feed the line. I can't fault drivers for not wanting their tax dollars to subsidize the current Tri-Rail. I think, however, they would feel differently if tax-payer subsidized Tri-Rail was taking commuters off of I-95.

The solution: All South Florida transportation leaders need to meet and agree upon a plan.
Bruce Richardson

Jacksonville, FL

#9 Mar 22, 2009
For years, we've prided ourselves in Florida on no new taxes; if we need money for something, eliminate some waste somewhere and move that money to a new area where needed. That has worked fine, but, reasonable people will say at some point it's okay to have some new taxes for certain, dedicated needs, such as commuter rail.

Tourism industry leaders will cry, moan, and gnash their teeth over the prospect of adding any new taxes to the cost of bringing tourists and conventions and meetings to Florida. Places such as New York City have been adding tourism taxes for decades, and, in the process, have almost priced New York City out of the meeting and convention business as a result. Budget conscious meeting and convention planners want to know what ALL of the costs are for events, and that includes tax rates. Competition amongst cities and states vying for meetings and convention often turns on tax rates as much as any other criteria.

So, based on that, should another source of dedicated funding be found for Tri-Rail and other commuter rail in Florida? Perhaps, but, also perhaps, it's time to say very rare increases in taxes for major specifics, such as commuter rail are okay, even if they fly in the ideological face of leaders in Tallahassee.

"Never say never" is something which should be said. No new taxes under any circumstances for any reason is not sound public policy. Selective new taxes to fund new concepts are okay if done after due diligence and proper vetting.

Very clever people may be able to find a way to fund Tri-Rail and SunRail in the future without a new tax on rental cars. For the moment, though, it looks as if no very clever person has stepped up to the plate and taken the challenge. In lieu of that, perhaps a new tax on rental cars is the best answer.
Hurricanes

Pembroke Pines, FL

#10 Mar 23, 2009
Sunday 1245 PM wrote:
Senator Dockery has even proven to everyone that wants to know the truth that the money FDOT claims they have for the Deal and can only be used for transportation projects like CSX Orlando SunRail, actually came from a state revenue source that prior to 2005 and enactment of a new "growth management" bill was part of the general fund being used for schools and the like.
So who should you believe; your own personal experience in south Florida with how Tallahassee has treated Tri-Rail and your money or more promises from a bunch that wants to give CSX ten times more value for the same amount of track thru Orlando than Massachusetts is giving CSX in a similar deal near Boston, right now?
I like seeing Dockery's paid liars here. Dockery has & is continued to be called out for all the lying she is doing across the state.

BS about Boston & the MBTA. That is on a 99 years lease. Thanks for the lie.

You must be from Lakeland, where all the rednecks live & lie to eachother. Go back to Lakeland Jed! Your sister is waiting to marry you.
Gators_Noles

Palm Harbor, FL

#11 Mar 23, 2009
Hurricanes,

I see why you are having so much trouble with separating fact from fiction, you can't read.

Note the press release from the Governor of Massachusetts, it says PURCHASE.

October 02, 2008 - For immediate release:

Patrick-Murray Administration Announces Historic Agreement with CSX Transportation to Purchase Rail Lines

Sens. Kerry, Kennedy and Rep. McGovern Laud Immediate Boost to Commuter Rail Service to Worcester

http://www.mass.gov/...
Gators_Noles

Palm Harbor, FL

#12 Mar 23, 2009
Hurricanes,

And also, since we all now know you can't read, I'll print another headline from the Boston Globe and a link for those real south Florida residents and readers of the Miami Harold that care more about the truth than they do about the deception you and your minions continue to spew in an effort to cover up your love for corporate welfare and your hate for good public services like schools, health care, public safety, clean water, sewers, and all the rest that only a good government can provide.

STATE TO BUY TRACKS IN $100M DEAL
Seeks better service to suburbs, Worcester
By Noah Bierman
Globe Staff / October 2, 2008

http://www.boston.com/news/local/articles/200...
Gators_Noles

Palm Harbor, FL

#13 Mar 23, 2009
Hurricanes,

In case you only try to read the Sun-Sentinel and none of your cohorts share with you what the Miami Herald wrote this morning about you and your consultant buddies here is the headline and a link for the real south Florida readers on this Sun-Sentinel site.

FLORIDA LEGISLATURE'S CONFLICT OF INFLUENCE: CONSULTANTS SERVE TWO MASTERS

Political consultants control money and exert influence in Florida's capital, using special-interest cash funneled through lawmaker-controlled committees.

BY MARY ELLEN KLAS, BREANNE GILPATRICK AND MARC CAPUTO
HERALD/TIMES TALLAHASSEE BUREAU

http://www.miamiherald.com/news/legislature/s...
Dan Burnham

Chicago, IL

#14 Mar 24, 2009
The same anti-tax nuts who wouldn't raise a peep about funding the war in Iraq are on it again regarding mass transit. Tri-rail isn't the best solution, and it should be looked at as just a start, not the end-all for transportaton in what is a very densley packed corridor that simply cannot accomodate new highways.

And as for the guy with the cab analogy - everyone pays for that cab ride, because the gas tax the driver pays doesn't begin to cover the cost of building and maintaining the road and highway network.
Conservative Republican

Cocoa, FL

#15 Mar 24, 2009
Dan Burnham wrote:
The same anti-tax nuts who wouldn't raise a peep about funding the war in Iraq are on it again regarding mass transit. Tri-rail isn't the best solution, and it should be looked at as just a start, not the end-all for transportaton in what is a very densley packed corridor that simply cannot accomodate new highways.
And as for the guy with the cab analogy - everyone pays for that cab ride, because the gas tax the driver pays doesn't begin to cover the cost of building and maintaining the road and highway network.
Some of us anti-tax "nuts" objected to funding a bottomless pit, police-action "war" in Iraq. Those same nuts object to throwing away hard-earned money on a money-losing boondoggle transit system whose only accomplishment will be to generate hundreds of millions of dollars of annual deficits that have to be covered by us taxpayers. No thank you. Keep your money-losing Tri-Rail fiscal fiasco.
jim

Roy, WA

#16 Apr 1, 2009
Can any one tell me a few places where mass transit makes money? huge busses with five paying passengers.
Conservative Republican

Cocoa, FL

#17 Apr 1, 2009
jim wrote:
Can any one tell me a few places where mass transit makes money? huge busses with five paying passengers.
Transit systems are designed to lose money, requiring massive subsidies by taxpayers in the service region. Ditto Tri-Rail and (God forbid) ScamRail.
gutcheck

Fort Myers, FL

#18 Jun 30, 2011
Bill Neubauer wrote:
The trouble with Tri-Rail is fiscal blindness. It already has a reliable, dedicated revenue source, but its executives are too narrow minded to even see it.
THAT SOURCE IS PASSENGERS.
All they have to do is charge those passengers ooperational fares.
I don't ask the legislature or the county or city commission too pay part of my taxi fare. That cabbie is doing what I want at a price I consider worth my while.
Is Tri-Rail offering convenient service? If so, it should establish a fare that will pay for it. If not, it should fold up.
The current economic shake-up is telling Americans something about realities. It has a message for Tri-Rail.
The same shortfall you lay at the feet of Tri-Rail should be laid at the feet of all the highways and airports in America.
I am asking YOU to subsidize the streets I use to get home and everywhere. The same is true with airports. Should we replace all the taxes that go to roads and bridges and airports with tolls? That was rhetoric I know. So is the call to charge users to an "operational" fare.
The reason for infrastructure like rail, roads, airport and waterways is to facilitate efficient traffic in the form of "COMMONS". They are just too expensive to for the individual and sadly privatization more often than not just increases the cost for the added corporate overhead and profit.
In fact, all commons should lose money. If they don't the fare is too high. We shouldn’t celebrate losses but a slight one should say lower fares to encourage commerce and these efficient modes of transportation instead one person per car.
The purpose is to organize and direct efficient growth in a manageable way without the helter skelter sprawl of individual upon individual growth where roads and infrastructure built for a few, years before, are overwhelmed.
That is why the railroads to open up the West were such a huge success. Imagine the mess if they just waited on growth of the cities on the east coast to spreads to the west coast.
Just adding more lanes to existing roads does nothing but add fuel to more inefficient sprawl. Older areas begin to decay and are a tax burden because they couldn’t possibly be designed and built to handle future growth.

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