Tri-Rail poster child for what could go wrong with high-speed rail, Scott saysby Dara Kam | February 22nd, 2011
Gov. Rick Scott is refusing to back down from his decision to blow off $2.4 billion from the feds for high-speed rail state lawmakers scrambled to get last year.
Scott remains convinced that the project won’t pay for itself despite assurances from supporters that they’re crafting a deal that would let the state get off Scott-free if the Tampa-Orlando project needs extra cash.
And he pointed to Tri-Rail commuter line from Miami-Dade to Palm Beach counties as an example.
“Look at ridership studies. There’s no way in the world that we’re not going to have operating losses,” Scott told reporters this morning. “I mean, look at Tri-Rail. I mean, Tri-Rail is almost $65 million in operating costs. The fares only cover $10 million of it. Right now each of you as taxpayers you help to subsidize to the tune of $35 million a year.
“So if you look at the risk of cost overruns, if you look at the ridership studies, if you look at the fact that if we make a mistake and we’re wrong we have to give $2.4 billion back to the federal government, it’s not worth the risk.”
U.S. Department of Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood gave Florida’s Congressional delegation until Thursday to come up with an alternate plan after Scott rejected the money last week. It remains doubtful, however, if anything can happen without Scott’s approval.