Author Topic: Federal Stimulus for Jacksonville to St. Augustine Rail?  (Read 3850 times)

Metro Jacksonville

  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 2644
    • MetroJacksonville.com
Federal Stimulus for Jacksonville to St. Augustine Rail?
« on: March 20, 2009, 05:00:00 AM »
Federal Stimulus for Jacksonville to St. Augustine Rail?



While Jacksonville's leaders continue to claim there are no local “shovel ready” rail projects, the other end of the state believes otherwise.  South Florida intends to request $100 million in federal stimulus relief money to implement passenger rail service between Jacksonville and Miami.

Full Article
http://www.metrojacksonville.com/content/view/1039

Jason

  • Global Moderator
  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 4290
  • I am the man in the box...
Re: Federal Stimulus for Jacksonville to St. Augustine Rail?
« Reply #1 on: March 20, 2009, 08:30:43 AM »
Brilliant article.

The immediate impact and benefits of enhanced Amtrak service between Jax and points south is amazingly obvious.

BridgeTroll

  • Global Moderator
  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 13435
  • The average person thinks he isnt
    • London Bridge Pub
Re: Federal Stimulus for Jacksonville to St. Augustine Rail?
« Reply #2 on: March 20, 2009, 08:38:48 AM »
As is the need to make the Prime Osborn a rail terminal once again.
In a boat at sea one of the men began to bore a hole in the bottom of the boat. On being remonstrating with, he answered, "I am only boring under my own seat." "Yes," said his companions, "but when the sea rushes in we shall all be drowned with you."

FayeforCure

  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 2589
  • Amsterdam: Persistent, Courageous, Compassionate
Re: Federal Stimulus for Jacksonville to St. Augustine Rail?
« Reply #3 on: March 20, 2009, 11:13:36 AM »
So what are we as a community doing about this?

A few weeks ago I strongly urged for such an Amtrak project to help commuters from St Johns county have an alternative to get to work in Jacksonville. This is the Presentation I made, Jan. 28 in St Augustine, to State Senator Jim King, State Representative Proctor, and State Senator Tony Hill.

Maybe some of you can follow up, to show strong support for a rail project in our community that could quickly be realized.

Quote
Good Afternoon.

 

My name is Faye Armitage and I am speaking on behalf of concerned citizens in support of Public Transportation.

 

Before I even get into my specific suggestion for our area, I want to clarify how important transit is to any area, especially during periods of economic downturn. Just from an economic perspective, aside from the environmental perspective, providing rail transportation for commuters in our area is a must.

 

Rail consumes 21 percent less energy per passenger mile than cars, according to the Transportation Department. The huge potential for saving money on transportation would mean a great deal to people’s individual pocket books. It has been shown that in great transit areas people spend only 5 % of their income on transportation compared to an average of 20% or more currently spent by people to cover their transportation needs.

 

Money not spent on transportation needs will benefit our local economy as this money will be available for other consumption spending.

 

The projects that I propose will provide local construction jobs, and permanent jobs for additional support functions.

 

As many of you may be aware, and as has been reported in the Florida Times Union on Oct 24, Amtrak is planning to offer commuter rail on the Florida East Coast rail lines that parallel Interstate 95 from Jacksonville to Miami .

 

I am proposing that we ask Amtrak to plan for train stations in St Augustine and at the Nocatee/Racetrack junction.

 

For those who worry about lack of ridership, I’d like to point out that ridership increased  about 13 percent in the past year while revenues have increased almost 16%. Even with gas prices having dropped since July, the ridership levels have not dropped off. So once people try it, people stick with it.

 

In summary my proposal would provide local jobs, and benefit many who commute into Jacsonville from the Julington Creek, Nocatee and St Augusutine areas, while having a positive impact on our environment, and reducing rush-hour congestion on I-95.

 

Amtrak wants to pursue this route, but it won't do it unless the state supports it and partners with Amtrak. Let’s get our local support underway and work with the Florida DOT to make it happen. I would like to ask everyone here to do their share to help realize the two proposed Amtrak Stations on Amtrak’s planned Jacksonville to Miami commuter route.

 

Thank You.
 

« Last Edit: March 20, 2009, 11:48:02 AM by FayeforCure »
In a society governed passively by free markets and free elections, organized greed always defeats disorganized democracy.
Basic American bi-partisan tradition: Dwight Eisenhower and Harry Truman were honorary chairmen of Planned Parenthood

Ocklawaha

  • Phd. Ferroequinology
  • Global Moderator
  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 10434
  • Monster of Mobility! Ocklawaha is Robert Mann
    • LIGHT RAIL JACKSONVILLE
Re: Federal Stimulus for Jacksonville to St. Augustine Rail?
« Reply #4 on: March 20, 2009, 12:37:56 PM »
Lakelander this is funny, you and I both did a piece on this within 20 hours of each other. Cool man!

My article can be seen at: http://jacksonvilletransit.blogspot.com/

As your piece suggests it's way past due for us to "arrive" at a downtown station and to piggyback on Amtrak improvements for future commuter rail. With South Florida's population muscle and our rail hub we could see the rebirth of hundreds, maybe even thousands of jobs.

While your article focuses on us getting onboard, mine is a critique of the "so called" Jacksonville Transportation Center. As we both know, having walked it with rail experts, the plan is a disaster waiting to happen.

As planned it:

Turns us into a simple way station, a stop on the way to somewhere else, and removes Jacksonville as a "TERMINAL" perhaps forever.

Means the Lack of track infrastructure will mean all terminal work will have to be done in Sanford? Great.

Forces a rebuild and the Lee Street Viaduct is history if they are going to relocate the FEC as planned.

Could mean by keeping the Viaduct, then they will have to remove 1/2 million cu yards of fill, the whole rail platform area will be lowered below the historic tunnel level. (deep into the flood plain) The whole place subject to massive flooding such as killed our first TWO stations. (see Tropical Storm Faye and McCoys Creek).

Boxes us into such a small rail area that Commuter Trains will have to be stored and serviced elsewhere.

Destroys the historic tunnels.

Adds an unsightly overhead walkway jutting out from the rear and south side of the 1919 station.



We are not building a Transportation Center if we follow this plan, it's a widely scattered Transportation neighborhood built around a nearly useless (due to size) convention center. I'm getting that sick here goes Disney, Busch Gardens, Off Shore Power Systems, planning again...

MOVE THAT CONVENTION CENTER NOW!


OCKLAWAHA

« Last Edit: March 20, 2009, 12:39:27 PM by Ocklawaha »

ralpho37

  • Full Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 136
Re: Federal Stimulus for Jacksonville to St. Augustine Rail?
« Reply #5 on: March 20, 2009, 12:41:42 PM »
FayeForCure:  Great presentation!  It's simple, to the point, and very persuasive in my opinion.  The people of Jacksonville need to be educated about this plan so more people can rally to support it.  It would be a great shame if this turns out like so many other projects and just fades away with time.

Also, this is not so much of a commuter rail plan as it is a regional transportation plan.  Where commuter rail is intended to funnel people from outlying suburbs to a centralized business location (such as a downtown area), regional transportation is meant to connect one area of a state to another.  The upside is that regional transportation and commuter transportation complement and support each other very nicely.  Rail stations that feature service to both lines can serve as connection points for riders who want to travel from say Daytona to Jacksonville, and then hop on a commuter train to the Avenues Mall.

If this regional rail system goes through, it would definitely put Jacksonville in a much better position to implement the commuter rail we all have been hoping for.

mtraininjax

  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 5414
Re: Federal Stimulus for Jacksonville to St. Augustine Rail?
« Reply #6 on: March 21, 2009, 01:08:24 AM »
This is a pipe dream plain and simple.

The "transportation hub" was left out of the stimulus funds for NE Florida. Why? No need for it.

Tri-RAIL in S. Florida has never made a profit in all the years of operations. It is a boondoggle that the entire state has to pay for, yet, it cannot get profitible at all.

At a time when Property Taxes are still too high, School systems face million dollar cuts, no one can look at the people in need and say, rail transportation is needed.

Next topic.
And, that $115 will save Jacksonville from financial ruin. - Mayor John Peyton

“This is a game-changer. This is what I mean when I say taking Jacksonville to the next level.”
-Mayor Alvin Brown on new video boards at Everbank Field

Lunican

  • The Jaxson
  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 3922
Re: Federal Stimulus for Jacksonville to St. Augustine Rail?
« Reply #7 on: March 21, 2009, 07:58:10 AM »
mtrain, you are stating the obvious like it's a revelation. If commuter rail and regional rail made a profit, we wouldn't need to be lobbying for it.

thelakelander

  • The Jaxson
  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 31339
    • Modern Cities
Re: Federal Stimulus for Jacksonville to St. Augustine Rail?
« Reply #8 on: March 21, 2009, 08:16:32 AM »
The transportation hub was left out for the same reason 9B was.  It cost too much and they decided to spread the local stimulus money around instead of pouring it all into one big project.

I wonder how much money the city made off of Park Street or Sunbeam Road last year?  As Lunican said, transportation projects rarely make a profit.  Nevertheless, at the very least, these guys (Amtrak) due believe they could break even operating a statewide corridor system in Florida and they're willing to spend millions of their own money to partially construct the service.  If we ever want a decent rail transportation alternative in Florida, this would be a part of it.

Btw, I think most of us already know transit and school funding come from two different sources.  So outside of the school system eliminating buses and using JTA's to save a buck, they clearly don't have much to do with one another.
« Last Edit: March 21, 2009, 08:18:43 AM by thelakelander »
"A man who views the world the same at 50 as he did at 20 has wasted 30 years of his life.” - Muhammad Ali

FayeforCure

  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 2589
  • Amsterdam: Persistent, Courageous, Compassionate
Re: Federal Stimulus for Jacksonville to St. Augustine Rail?
« Reply #9 on: March 21, 2009, 09:38:08 AM »
Tri-RAIL in S. Florida has never made a profit in all the years of operations. It is a boondoggle that the entire state has to pay for, yet, it cannot get profitible at all.

At a time when Property Taxes are still too high, School systems face million dollar cuts, no one can look at the people in need and say, rail transportation is needed.


You have got to be kidding! So profit is the only possible benefit you can see for any project?

As Lakelander said, our roads don't make us any money,.......at least not in a direct sense, so you want us to stop having roads too? How about schools, do they make us money in a direct sense. NO, so let's just stop funding schools too, while we are at it. Fire fighters, police etc, none of that turns a profit, so quit it already,........I don't want to pay ANY property taxes because nothing that gets funded from my property taxes turns a profit.

You see where your argument leads us?

I'm sure that on an uninhabited island with no schools, roads or any public facilities, you wouldn't have to pay property taxes, but paying property taxes is the price you pay to live in a civilized society.

That doesn't mean you should be wasteful with government revenues. As an economist I am very well aware of the "the most efficient use of scarce resources," which is the definition of economics.

I am surprised that many people like you haven't seen the correlation between Crist's 2008 amendment1, property tax cut that was passed by the voters, and the teacher lay-offs of 50,000 or more in FL. Obviously lower property values are partly to blame, and the huge forclosure numbers, but clearly we couldn't afford to cut government revenue without hurting our children.

The "Cut my Taxes" mantra is really getting old, especially if we blind ourselves to the its dire consequences.

Quote
We think: Legislators sleep as the education funding crisis deepens
March 20, 2009

The news that Orange County's school system was going to be nearly a quarter-billion dollars in the hole arrived Wednesday like a thunderclap.

School officials, looking a little stunned themselves, laid out the grim scenario, which nearly doubles the deficit figure they had been working against for months.

Suddenly the prospect of laying off maybe 700 teachers out of the 12,000-teacher work force has turned into layoffs of 1,000 or more. Front-office administrative cuts could go from 100 to 200. Deans. Guidance counselors. Curriculum experts. All are more vulnerable now.

Some people have pointed an accusing finger at Superintendent Ron Blocker because he hadn't anticipated such a deep cut much earlier.



Only they have the wrong villain.

This mess is due partly to the economy but also to a state government that has never taken public education very seriously. Florida has long been mired in the bottom tier of states in how much money it spends per pupil on education.

What's happening right now perfectly illustrates why that is.

Many legislators won't even consider raising Florida's cigarette tax, which, like education spending, is among the nation's lowest tax rates for a pack of smokes. Many don't want to talk about ending even the craziest sales-tax exemptions. What about taxing Internet sales?

Don't look to the governor for leadership on this issue. Charlie Crist snuck out of Tallahassee on Wednesday when hundreds of students, parents and teachers rallied on the Capitol steps to demand more support for education.

Mr. Crist showed up in Jacksonville where, asked about a proposal to increase the sales tax by a penny to support education, dismissively responded, "I don't like that. I don't like taxes."

Thanks for clearing that up, governor. Neither do we. Maybe a higher sales tax isn't the way, but what would he suggest, aside from some chump change out of a gambling compact with the Seminole Indians? Or hoping for federal bailout money that may or may not come, and certainly will have plenty of federal strings attached if it does?

We wonder to whom Mr. Crist owes his loyalty: Florida's schoolchildren or Grover Norquist, the anti-tax crusader who in an opinion column recently reminded Mr. Crist and 30 Republican state legislators that they've signed a pledge to never increase taxes.

Meanwhile, school superintendents like Mr. Blocker are left to cope with the Legislature's cowardice.

In Orange County, the news leaves little choice for School Board members deciding whether to close eight underpopulated elementary schools to create a savings of about $8 million. Parents are understandably upset, but what alternative does the board have?

Likewise their decisions on cutting sports and other programs. Proponents will make passionate and compelling arguments to preserve the status quo, but the School Board needs to stay fixed on core subjects, without which students have little chance of succeeding.

The money saved could keep some teachers on the job. In these lean days, that's what matters most.

http://www.orlandosentinel.com/news/opinion/orl-legislature-crisis-032009,0,5185666.story





« Last Edit: March 21, 2009, 11:12:04 AM by FayeforCure »
In a society governed passively by free markets and free elections, organized greed always defeats disorganized democracy.
Basic American bi-partisan tradition: Dwight Eisenhower and Harry Truman were honorary chairmen of Planned Parenthood

JeffreyS

  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 5882
  • Demand Evidence and Think Critically.
Re: Federal Stimulus for Jacksonville to St. Augustine Rail?
« Reply #10 on: March 21, 2009, 12:59:56 PM »
Let's see police no direct profit(revenue), roads no direct profit, public schools no direct profit.  Somehow since mass transit which does provide revenue to pay most of it's way is punished for not not being profitable. Mass transit is a public service(like the other examples) that provides benefits to us all just like other services but since it is one of the few services that contributes revenue to it's operation that becomes the only measurable to so many. Instead of saying there's a public service you do not have to 100% supplement yeah. We judge it like it is a private for profit venture.  If you want to argue you do not get the bang for your buck you want fine there is a disscussion I disagree but means you have taken a second to think about it. If you can only have services that not only pay for themselves but make profit you need to cut a lot.
Lenny Smash

ralpho37

  • Full Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 136
Re: Federal Stimulus for Jacksonville to St. Augustine Rail?
« Reply #11 on: March 21, 2009, 04:08:01 PM »
I'd just like to add to both Lakelander and FayeForCure's comments.  While it's obvious that roads and other transportation projects never make profits, it is a common misconception that passenger rail does.  Passenger rail, in general, has never made profit since railroads have been in existence.  That's a major reason as to why Amtrak was formed in 1971.  The nation's major railroads eventually ended their passenger service because they simply could not continue to support them financially.  That's the whole reason as to why Amtrak cannot and never will be able to survive without money from the federal government.  So, in reality, if profit is what you're looking for when you consider this project, you may as well build more inefficient, overcrowded highways.

Ocklawaha

  • Phd. Ferroequinology
  • Global Moderator
  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 10434
  • Monster of Mobility! Ocklawaha is Robert Mann
    • LIGHT RAIL JACKSONVILLE
Re: Federal Stimulus for Jacksonville to St. Augustine Rail?
« Reply #12 on: March 21, 2009, 06:00:02 PM »
Your right about the need for the Transportation Center today, mtrain. A Federal task force under DOT and UMTA said we needed a 12 track multimodal center back in 1980. Fact is it is long past due.

This is a pipe dream plain and simple.

The "transportation hub" was left out of the stimulus funds for NE Florida. Why? No need for it.

Tri-RAIL in S. Florida has never made a profit in all the years of operations. It is a boondoggle that the entire state has to pay for, yet, it cannot get profitible at all.

At a time when Property Taxes are still too high, School systems face million dollar cuts, no one can look at the people in need and say, rail transportation is needed.

Next topic.

Quote
The 10.7 billion transit trips Americans took last year amounted to a 4 percent increase over trips taken in 2007; at the same time, Americans drove measurably less, according to the Transportation Department.

The increase is significant because cheaper gas and job losses tend to drive transit ridership down. Almost 60 percent of transit riders go to work.

The APTA survey found that ridership increased last year on all modes of transit all across the country. Ridership rose on 14 of the nation's subway systems (3.5 percent), 20 of 21 commuter rail systems (4.7 percent) and 20 of 26 light-rail systems (8.3 percent). Some of the big increases were in places such as South Florida, Dallas and Salt Lake City, not necessarily among the largest communities served by transit, officials said.

Bus service increased 3.9 percent, but ridership on systems serving populations of less than 100,000 rose 9.3 percent, the survey found. Riders in those systems typically wait up to an hour for their buses, officials said.

Transit officials said that even with fewer people going to work and cheaper gas, riders are taking transit to save money. On Oct. 1, a gallon of regular gas was $3.61, compared with $4.11 a gallon on July 17. By year's end, the national average was $1.61.

In South Florida, average weekday ridership on the Tri-Rail commuter line is about 15,000 trips, a small number compared with the hundreds of thousands of vehicles that cram Interstate 95 every day between Fort Lauderdale and Miami. But ridership on Tri-Rail, which runs from Miami to West Palm Beach, rose 18 percent in the fourth quarter and nearly 23 percent for the year. Reflecting a nationwide trend, more riders climbed aboard in the second and third quarters last year as gasoline prices skyrocketed, and the number stayed even when prices at the pump fell. The trend is holding, with ridership up about 8 percent in January over the same month last year, Tri-Rail spokeswoman Bonnie Arnold said.

Complete article:  http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/nationworld/chi-transitmar09,0,7666865.story

Funny as others have pointed out, all of these things are INVESTMENTS in our future, our people and our lives, out of all of them Mass Transit and Amtrak are the only ones to recover most of their costs.

Then there is the AMTRAK DIXIE FLYER or PONCE DE LEON route to Atlanta, the one you want, it won't make money either.

Talk all you want about taxes, schools and the poor, but this money is going to be spent anyway, I'd just as soon it be OURS!

You do know that JTA is running at 1 MILLION riders per month don't you?  Boy how we'd love to share our roads with them, we could even put up a toll gate or two and recover 10% or so of the cost of the darn things. Better yet, lets end all rail passenger services and all transit and spread those 10.7 BILLION people out in cars from the Pacific Coast Highway to A-1-A! "EEEEEK!" "AUNTIE EM, IT'S A TWISTER! IT'S A TWISTER!"

I know how most of us (me included)  feel about tax and spend politics. Like pouring gasoline on a flame, man cannot drink himself dry, or spend himself rich! My 2 Cents worth? I didn't vote for either of the two clowns that ran for office. We didn't have a choice, screwed right or screwed left. .. And the LEFT'S have the ball! So I figure our nation will have one last great hurrah, then some creditor with a bigger club is going to come and collect on the debit. We'll be too broke to fight... So what the hell, might as well enjoy the time we have left riding cool trains and motor coaches... Until the big one falls!


OCKLAWAHA
"If all the Hippies cut off their hair, I don't care, It ain't me, It ain't me..."
JIMI HENDRIX

FayeforCure

  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 2589
  • Amsterdam: Persistent, Courageous, Compassionate
Re: Federal Stimulus for Jacksonville to St. Augustine Rail?
« Reply #13 on: March 21, 2009, 10:03:22 PM »
I know how most of us (me included)  feel about tax and spend politics. Like pouring gasoline on a flame, man cannot drink himself dry, or spend himself rich! My 2 Cents worth? I didn't vote for either of the two clowns that ran for office. We didn't have a choice, screwed right or screwed left. .. And the LEFT'S have the ball! So I figure our nation will have one last great hurrah, then some creditor with a bigger club is going to come and collect on the debit. We'll be too broke to fight... So what the hell, might as well enjoy the time we have left riding cool trains and motor coaches... Until the big one falls!



Ock, I'm sure you mean "borrow and spend" politics that has been going on ever since we came off a budget surplus under Clinton. This is the first ever war we've waged on a credit card,.....its $3 trillion plus cost for Iraq alone was never even included in the official Bush budget!

Quote
PAT CHOATE, AUTHOR, "DANGEROUS BUSINESS": George Bush doubled the national debt in his eight years. Barack Obama is going to double it in four years at the path we're going.


However with our economy in the dumps, and private industry spending down, government HAS to spend.
Just listen to Mark Zandi, chief economist at Moody's Economy.com:

Quote
ZANDI: Well, in terms of the deficits, I do think in the very near term this year and next, we have to run large deficits.
I think consumers are pulling back, businesses aren't investing, they're not hiring, they're laying off workers, and really telling government that has the resources to fill that void, and that's by cutting taxes, and increasing spending temporarily, and that's going to mean larger deficits in the near term. 

So, I think that's exactly what we need to do.

Now, having said that, I agree in the longer run, once we get by the crisis in the economy has found its footing, we have to work hard to reduce the size of those future deficits. And there we haven't done enough work yet. I don't think the president's come forward with a plan.

SYLVESTER: OK, but here's the real question. Does that mean we're going to have future tax increases? Because you can't have this kind of spending, unlimited spending, without somebody paying it at some point in the future.

ZANDI: Yeah, and we will. In the long run, I think it's fair to say that the taxes are going to rise and they're going to have to be spending cuts to the entitlement programs. Now, we can mitigate some of that if we can figure out a way to reform health care and bring down the growth in health care costs and if we can figure out ways to reduce our energy dependence. Then we won't have to raise taxes quite as much and cut spending quite as much, but I think that's something we'll have to do eventually, yes.

SYLVESTER: OK, Peter, you get the last word, we got about 20 seconds here.

MORICI: Health care, we spend 50 percent more than France and Germany. We have 45 million people uncovered, they have everyone covered. We should be able to pay for health care reform with the money we're spending already. Mr. Obama doesn't need another nickel.

http://transcripts.cnn.com/TRANSCRIPTS/0903/20/ldt.01.html
« Last Edit: March 21, 2009, 10:05:59 PM by FayeforCure »
In a society governed passively by free markets and free elections, organized greed always defeats disorganized democracy.
Basic American bi-partisan tradition: Dwight Eisenhower and Harry Truman were honorary chairmen of Planned Parenthood

JaxNole

  • Sr. Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 270
    • Riverside Community Gardens
Re: Federal Stimulus for Jacksonville to St. Augustine Rail?
« Reply #14 on: March 23, 2009, 08:16:43 AM »
Could someone please name at least three public, mass transit authorities that are profitable? 

The MBTA, for example, is millions of dollars in debt, yet continues to upgrade stations, tracks and purchase trains.
I could be wrong, but is FDOT profitable from road building?  If they collect tolls, have they collected enough revenue to turn a profit?

Mass transit and profit don't seem to mix.  A public service such as mass transit does not appear to be highly profitable.