I visited my family in Florida over Memorial Day weekend and read several stories in a few days time (and there are several from earlier) that document a dispute between the state of Florida and transportation officials in the South over funding for commuter rail (Tri-Rail). Evidently, the Tri-Rail folks are asking for a $2 rental car fee to offset cuts they’re taking from the local jurisdictions who provide much of their funding, and the state Legislature balked. Now, there’s talk of the elimination of all weekend service and much less frequent service during the week.
For all the good stuff happening in transit these days, it’s disheartening to see the lack of political will to at least sustain existing levels of transit service. I have ridden Tri-Rail a couple of times, including from the Fort Lauderdale airport, and I have generally found it to be comfortable, clean, easy to use, and popular. South Florida is a huge, sprawling region, and while a single commuter rail line may not make much of a dent, the dent it does make is meaningful and should serve as the backbone of further service for a very congested region.
Separately, here’s another interesting story about how high-speed rail (between major cities) in Florida might stack up against others’ proposals.