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How SunRail (approved) is a worse deal than high-speed rail (rejected)

Gov. Rick Scot cancelled high-speed rail earlier this year but just allowed SunRail to go forward.

The big differences between the two? Florida taxpayers are far more on the hook for SunRail.

And the ridership is smaller. And it's more expensive per mile. And SunRail carries the promise of fewer jobs.

And the lure of high-speed rail money from the feds was used to persuade fence-sitting legislators to approve SunRail at a special lawmaking session in 2009. But once SunRail was approved, high-speed rail was negged.

Bait and switch?

Anyway, here's side-by-side comparison from January.  Download Sun&HSR. What looks like a better deal to you?


Costs to State and Local Taxpayers for SunRail and High Speed Rail

30 Year Horizon



High Speed Rail


$2.66 billion


$2.65 billion


61.5 miles of existing freight rail to be shared by commuter passengers and heavy freight in Volusia, Seminole, Orange and Osceola Counties

17 stations


84 miles of new dedicated track exclusively for passengers on state-owned right-of-way of I-4 between Tampa and Orlando

5 stations

State taxpayer obligation over 7 years:


Minimum: $901 million

State taxpayer obligation over 30 years:         Minimum: ZERO

Maximum: $280 million


Local taxpayer obligation over 30 years (Volusia, Seminole, Orange 

and Osceola Counties):

Minimum: $526 million

Local taxpayer obligation over 30 years:



Federal funding

$684 million*


*Potential funding, not guaranteed– any shortfall will be split 50/50 by state and local taxpayers

Federal funding

(during  construction phase):

TOTAL: $2.39 billion guaranteed


Farebox: (determined by ridership and concessions)

$510 million estimated

(ANY shortfall will be paid by state taxpayers in the first 7 years and by local taxpayers in years 8-30)

Farebox: all risk of ridership, operations and maintenance are assumed by the private operator that is chosen through a Request for Proposal (RFP)


Construction Cost Overruns:

Split 50-50 by state and local taxpayers***

Construction Cost Overruns:

Assumed by the private operator that is chosen through a competitive RFP

Job creation:

8,000 direct jobs for construction of stations and upgrades to existing track.

Job creation:

23,000 direct jobs during the 3-4 year construction period

Private investment:


Private investment:

Potentially a $400 million cash investment

January 21, 2011

*** Note: this is a reprint of a Jan. 21 document. Today, FDOT Secretary Ananth Prasad said the locals have promised to cover all cost over-runs. Still waiting to see if that's in writing. 
****  Prasad said there would be private-sector investment in SunRail. However, the investments appear to be add-ons to the original SunRail project, and therefore don't go to the core of the costs of Central Florida commuter rail. Those investments are:

·         In exchange for the purchase of rail track, CSX has committed to investments in railways all over the state. These investments will support other infrastructure such as helping make Florida’s ports more accessible for trade.

·         Walt Disney World has committed to partially subsidize Commuter Bus Transit Service throughout Central Florida to its property.

·         Florida Hospital has committed to pay $3.5 million for its own rail stop and to market and subsidize ridership for all its 17,000 employees.

·         Tupperware Brands Corporation has committed to donate 10 acres of land to serve as the site for the proposed Osceola Parkway station and to establish a shuttle service to carry employees and others to encourage ridership.





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Saint Petersblog

Analysis and compilation of reactions to Gov. Rick Scott OKing SunRail


Tea Partier

So why were you silent until now? Is not informing your readers part of your job? Since you decided not to inform the public you are just as guilty of this mess as Charlie Crist, Jeff Atwater, Mike Haridopolos, Dean Cannon, Mike Fasano, Adam Hasner, George LeMieux.


Why didn't your Governor reveal the truth to you Tea Partier? I guess the party is over, and you can't tell which way to turn. This is Rick Scott's mess. He will be held accountable by reasonable people who see what kind of person he is. In case you want to blame Obama and the Dems for the killing of high speed rail, don't let Repugnants claim they did not want to take Federal money. They took $700 MILLION from the Obama administration to institute a politically motivated education "reform" agenda that will p i s s every dime of that fed money and then some right down the sewer. So don't think they have some kind of philisophical objection to wasting other people's money.

Franklin Stubbs

Um... This comparison does not include the total job creation associated with the two projects.

Sunrail is expected to create 125 thousand jobs along its route when you factor in the transit oriented development. High speed was far less.

Thing is - it should never have been an either or situation. Sunrail and high speed rail would have connected with and complimented one another.

Paula dockery's insistence that we had to have high speed rail without sunrail or other systems like sunrail makes no sense. She hurt her own effort to secure high speed rail with her opposition to sunrail.


Obviously the only reason our "great" governor rejected the high speed rail is because it was Obama's plan. I am a Republican who supported Obama's high speed rail plan because we need to improve our nation's rail infrastructure instead of just focusing on highways and airlines. I fortunately didn't vote for this scumbag and have no idea how he won. After he won the Republican Primary I thought for sure Alex Sink would win in a landslide. Once again I underestimated the stupidity of the average voter.


You do not be a success when you purchase lots of ebooks,DVDs and home-study courses. That's all fine and good sure you might be taught a couple of stuff.


"84 miles of new dedicated track exclusively for passengers on state-owned right-of-way of I-4 between Tampa and Orlando"

This is the huge difference between the two projects: the routes. Sunrail at least runs on a commuter route, from suburbs to Orlando's business district.

The HSR plan from Tampa to Orlando is stupid, as no one works in one city and lives in the other. What is the point of having a HSR link between the two?

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