NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

Florida's Bullet Train Project Halted

March 25, 1999

Florida Gov. Jeb Bush (R) recently stopped a proposed $6.3 billion highspeed train that would have run from Tampa to Orlando to Miami, reports the James Madison Institute. The project was supported by the state's Department of Transportation and a private consortium, Florida Overland Express.

Institute evaluations of the proposal had indicated ridership would be lower, and the cost to taxpayers higher, than supporters claimed.

  • Researchers concluded that the high-speed rail line would carry 55 percent fewer riders than forecast, generate 45 percent less revenue, and incur 15 percent higher capital costs and 29 percent higher operating costs -- requiring $11 billion more in subsidies than anticipated.
  • The additional taxpayer subsidies could have been as high as $37 billion -- or more than $2,600 for each Floridian over the first 40 years of the train's operation -- according to the National Academy of Sciences.

Aside from the financial risk to taxpayers, the high-speed rail would not materially improve the environment nor relieve air or highway traffic congestion, says the Institute. For instance, the plan would have reduced automobile traffic between the cities by less than 4 percent on average, or only 1/30th of the traffic in a single highway lane.

Source: "Bullet Train Derailed, Saving Taxpayers Billions," James Madison Messenger, January/February 1999, James Madison Institute, P.O. Box 13894, Tallahassee, Fla. 32317, (904) 386- 3131.

 

Browse more articles on Tax and Spending Issues