As our homegrown, mostly Democrat, Mass-O-Philes never seem to be convinced that commuter rail straight to Boston is a bad idea for NH’s economy and taxpayers, let us examine a cautionary rail tale from Florida, a state where there’s no shortage of tourists needing to get around, and the Orlando Area, where there are plenty of workers AND tourists commuting to the attractions.
First the lawmakers proposed high speed rail up and down the state, and even persuaded enough voters that it would be built with Other People’s Money, that they got the necessary constitutional amendment to fund the project, but 4 years later, the voters wised up and reversed that decision, which should have been the end of a bad idea…. No such luck – Officials from the counties surrounding Orlando got together with crypto-Democrat, Charlie Crist, to launch a commuter rail line connecting Orlando’s suburbs.
Started in 2012, opened in 2014, in a popular area – should have been a raging success, right? Not so fast (which might also be the slogan for the trains) – with an average daily ridership of less than 4,000 and falling, the economics of train operation have proven, one more time, the wisdom(!) of politicians. So bad are the economics of SunRail, that the cost of issuing and checking tickets exceeds the amount raised in fares, indeed, politicians are now mulling the idea of lowering the cost and making it up in volume – let’s just GIVE the tickets away! This leads directly to the blogline of the day, from Tho Bishop of the Mises Institute
In the decades leading up the construction of SunRail, instead of trying to figure out where to build a train or how fast it should go, they should have asked why there wasn’t private interest in such a project. After all, the market has given Orlando such incredible creations as a real life Hogwarts, a bible-themed amusement park, and a bar made out of ice. Clearly the private market has proven to provide central Florida with all sorts of ambitious projects, yet a train system wasn’t one of them. So government officials decided they were smarter than the market.
Yup. Sure sounds like our Democrats!