America 2050 released the following statement regarding Florida Governor Rick Scott's decision to cancel the Tampa-Orlando high-speed rail project:
"Today Florida Governor Rick Scott announced the state would turn away $2.4 billion in federal funding for a long-planned Tampa-to-Orlando high-speed rail line," said Petra Todorovich, director, America 2050. "In doing so he gives up hundreds of millions of dollars of private investment and an immediate plan to create thousands of construction jobs, boost Florida's tourism economy, and create capacity for economic growth. It is difficult to understand how this short-sighted decision will help rebuild Florida's economy."
In his comments today Governor Scott makes a false argument saying ridership potential on the Tampa-to-Orlando route does not exist because projections are the same as the most heavily travelled market in the nation - Amtrak's Acela service, which attracts 3.2 million riders annually. It is highly relevant and important to note that Amtrak's Acela service runs at capacity. Amtrak's total ridership on the corridor (Acela and Regional combined) is over 12 million per year. Additional ridership is constrained by congestion from commuter trains, which comprise 250 million passengers a year on the same rail corridor stretching from Boston to Washington, D.C.
"This decision appears to be politically motivated given the clear benefits the project would have brought to the state of Florida, local support for the project and the fact that the corridor was the most feasible in the nation given project readiness and public ownership of the right of way for the initial segment," said Bob Yaro, co-chair, America 2050. "Governor Scott's announcement comes on the heels of President Obama's 2012 budget to Congress, which included an ambitious proposal for a 6-year, $556 billion surface transportation program, including $53 billion for high-speed rail."
America 2050 looks forward to working with federal officials in identifying where the job-growth federal monies can go. While Florida's route was most feasible and ready-to-go, investment in many other corridors, including those in the Midwest, California, and Northeast, will underpin long-term economic growth and success.