Soon, Florida residents will have a cheap, reliable method of travel from Orlando to Miami and vice versa – and it won’t involve driving. Thanks to All Aboard Florida, a high-speed passenger rail line will stretch from Orlando to Miami, making additional stops in Fort Lauderdale and West Palm Beach.
Trains will run daily, approximately every hour with 16 northbound and 16 southbound trips total.
Undoubtedly, some residents are worried the project will cause issues for the state, but there are actually many benefits. For starters, the project is independently funded so it won’t cost Florida taxpayers a dime.
Not to mention, the rail corridors chosen already exist – $1.5 billion will be used to upgrade an existing rail system. The changes will include doubling the track corridor, enhancing signal systems and renovating grade crossings to high safety standards.
What Other Benefits Will the Railway Offer?
During construction, the project will bring 6,000 construction jobs to the state, offering work for many residents. Once the railway is finished, a further 1,000 workers will be needed to man and operate the system. In total, nearly 10,000 local jobs will be made available because of the railway project.
All Aboard Florida will generate revenue and improve the economy in the state in many ways. Of course, the estimated $653 million in federal, state and local tax revenues is always a boon. Just having the railway operational will save residents money, too.
The railway is expected to alleviate traffic for commuters. An estimated 50 million will use the system, removing close to 3 million motor vehicles from the road. It will improve travel times for everyone else, alleviating congestion along the roadways. It will also save the state – and residents – money.
According to Texas Transport Institute’s 2010 Urban Mobility Report, traffic congestion in Florida costs residents $6 billion in fees, along with 274 million wasted hours because of delays and 216 million gallons of gasoline. Long story short, traffic delays cause more than a few issues and the All Aboard Florida railway will help lessen some of them.
If you’re worried about the noise a high-speed commuter railway might create, you’ll be pleased to know that the company is planning to introduce several quiet zones wherever possible. These zones will exist between Port Miami and the northern Miami-Dade County line and between the City of Hallandale Beach and 15th Street in West Palm Beach. While in these zones, the use of alert horns will be minimized if not eliminated completely.
How Much Will It Cost?
Since the railway is independently funded – and it’s said to generate more than $600 million – it makes sense to assume that ticket prices would be outrageous, right? A one-way trip is sure to cost a ridiculous amount of money.
According to the South Florida Business Journal, it will be about $11 for a one-way ticket from Miami to Fort Lauderdale, or $143 for a business-class trip between Miami and Orlando.
The same trip in a car would usually require you to fill your tank at least once; more if your vehicle is not fuel-efficient. That’s not even factoring in the 3 1/2 hours of travel time on average while making the trip from Orlando to Miami – and that’s traveling the fastest route via the Florida Turnpike. With traffic delays and depending on the time of day and weather, that trip could take longer.
The travel time for the trip from Miami to Orlando is estimated at three hours 15 minutes. It might seem like the time shaved off the trip is minimal, but when you factor in costs, that’s when the real savings start. You’re not spending money on gas, you’re saving time you would have spent driving and you’re not adding extra wear and tear on your vehicle.
If you hop on the train from Miami to Fort Lauderdale, the trip will only take you about 31 minutes while the trip from Miami to West Palm Beach will take around 67 minutes.
An estimated 7 million passengers are expected to use the railway by 2030, with annual revenues at approximately $400 million.
Project backers expect to break ground and get started on the project within the next couple of years.
Photo credit: All Aboard Florida