Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Orlando's train: A mess worthy of Frank "Procurement Disaster" Wilson..

Thanks to a blog post by The Wandering Aramean and the following (quoted) article by the Orlando Sentinal we find out that Houston is not along in making a total rivet out of their mass-transit planning....

Orlando Airport Eyes $470 Million expansion. Dan Tracy & Sarah K. Clarke, Orlando Sentinal
Brown said preliminary talks have centered on All Aboard Florida paying for the station south of the existing terminal near what is now a parking lot for people waiting for planes to land.
The airport, in turn, would be responsible for building a mile-long, elevated monorail to serve the station, at a cost of $181.4 million. OIA also would be responsible for roads and other infrastructure costs of about $78 million
The 3,500-space garage and depot would cost $210.7 million. About 80 percent of that expense would be the garage. But who pays for what part of that bill has not been determined, airport spokeswoman Carolyn Fennell said.
Driving part of the garage expansion is demand from rental-car companies who want more space on airport property, Fennell said. Calls to airport-based rental-car companies for comment were unsuccessful.
Financing has not been figured out either, though a variety of sources could be tapped. They would include selling bonds, seeking federal and state grants, spending cash reserves and using surcharges on airline tickets and rental cars.
If an agreement is reached and financing is secured, the station could open in 2015, Brown said. It would be built in such a way that it could expanded to serve up to four systems, including the SunRail commuter train, he said.
SunRail is set to run in mid-2014, with its closest stop to OIA at Sand Lake Road. A bus would ferry passengers from the stop to the airport.

So you have a one mile section that's projected to cost a fifth of what the entire high-speed rail line from Miami to Orlando is projected to cost? Somebody's gotten their numbers jumbled and I have a sneaking suspicion it's the train folks.  For my reader's who like to tell me to "educate myself" on high-speed rail I offer the following: High speed rail cost overruns.

If there's one thing we've learned about cost projections on rail it's that they typically aren't worth the paper they're printed on.  It is nice to see that Houston's not the only city without the foresight to plan their light-rail to connect at airports.  I'd be curious to see how many potential fliers (as a percentage of all traffic) actual make use of the bus/train/bus option for arriving at MCO. A bevvy of Google searches came up with blanks, which leads me to believe that the number is so insignificant as to not matter.

These types of systems work in Europe because A) the trains have a terminus at the airport, which can then be taken into town where connections can be made to almost anywhere and B) because they are densely packed cities with roads and traffic that make driving impractical. Neither of these situations exist in the US except for New York City.  Because of this it's just not working.

I understand the airport's desire to be included in these plans, I just wish that our transit leadership carried with them some new world horse sense.  Instead we're getting the Frank "procurement disaster" Wilson, George "A company computer?" Greainas model of fantasy Europe. Something that doesn't fit in America's car-friendly cities and never will, no matter how hard you push that square peg.  The round hole is just not malleable.

Who knows? Maybe MCO will pull this off.  Given the pass/fail ratio of other non-dense city's rail dreams I seriously doubt it.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Comment Policy:Any comment containing profanity or presonal attacks will be disallowed. Repeated violations will get you marked as SPAM. Real name is preferred, fake names will be carefully considered before being allowed. If your on-line moniker is so widely known as to be a clear identifier, that's OK too. If your comment doesn't appear, give it some time. I do have a day job.

Sports Section