Florida’s Government Built a Train — And It Didn’t Go Well, by Tho Bishop

As California ramps up construction of its bullet train boondoggles, whatever sane people are left in that state might want to consider Florida’s bullet train boondoggle. From Tho Bishop at mises.org:

The state of Florida is well known for many things: beautiful beaches, outrageous headlines, and being the setting for the wacky antics of the Golden Girls. In Florida’s fascinating history, perhaps no figure stands taller than the great Walt Disney, who transformed unwanted swampland into Disney World, forever changing central Florida from swamp and farmland into one of the premier vacation destinations in the world. Disney’s example is an incredible demonstration of what a man can accomplish with vision, work-ethic, and a strong entrepreneurial spirit.

Unfortunately too many politicians have all sorts of great visions, but think government power is a fine substitute for the other personal qualities Disney possessed. Just like mosquitos, sinkholes, and under-performing sports franchises, Florida has too many such politicians for its own good.

A great example is SunRail, a train so bad that it actually loses money issuing tickets.

How so?

The story begins decades ago, when the idea of a train connecting Orlando to cities like Tampa and Miami was dreamt by government officials throughout the state. Be it bureaucrats in Tallahassee or politicians at a federal, state, or local level, countless state workers wished upon a star for their own version of a Disney World monorail to play with.

In 2000, Florida politicians were able to convince enough voters that someone else would pay for the train, securing a Constitutional amendment requiring the construction of a high-speed rail line connecting Florida’s largest cities. As more details emerged on the projects costs however, voters repealed the amendment in 2004.

The dream didn’t have to sit dormant for long though as county officials in Orange, Volusia, Osceola, and Seminole counties joined forces with then-Governor Charlie Crist to move forward with a less ambitious project, a simple commuter train connecting the largest towns that make up metro Orlando.

To continue reading: Florida’s Government Built a Train — And It Didn’t Go Well

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