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Orlando Mass Transit Map is Murky

Walt Disney, I think everyone can agree, was a visionary. His desire to see an America connected by a series of high speed trains, monorails, and people mover systems was given proof of concept by his theme park experiments and plans for the City of Tomorrow. So, while I think he would be happy that Central Florida is finally getting on board with high speed rail, commuter rail, and possible light rail, he’d be mighty amused by the way we’re going about it.

The NY Times has a great story looking at just how messed up it is. For instance Orlando, Tampa, and Lakeland are just not set up where you can get around without a car. Even Disney’s TTA, as it turns out, can’t get around without a car.

A recent visit to the Tomorrowland Transit Authority, a retro-futuristic people mover in the Magic Kingdom, shows the enduring pull of car culture in Florida: a sign at the station announces that it is presented by Alamo, the car rental company.

That said, we definitely need more mass transit. As long as there is good long range planning, it can be an ‘if you build it they will come’ situation. It’s worked great that way in Portland, Phoenix, New York City (obviously), and dozens of other cities. But just building two systems with no plan to connect them shows we’re not off to a very good start here in Central Florida.

I’m going to put my “what would Walt do” hat on for a second (fully realizing, I probably don’t know what he would have done, but it’s fun to try). I think Walt would want the High Speed Rail from Orlando to Tampa, with the stops in Lakeland, Walt Disney World, and the convention center. But rather than turning right and heading to the airport, the HSR should continue right on to Daytona beach with a stop at Downtown Orlando inbetween.

The commuter rail, aka Sunrail, on the other hand could function better as a series of smaller light rail lines running mostly east and west from the main High Speed Rail. For example the first to be built could go from the convention center west toward Clermont/Ocoee and East to the airport and then UCF. The second could go from the convention center up and down International Drive connecting all the attractions and Kissimmee’s convention center (to be built).

But two north and south lines and don’t meet and don’t even stop at the important destinations, they really need to rethink that.

3 thoughts on “Orlando Mass Transit Map is Murky”

  1. Before you start developing a mass-transit system you have to actually decide on your objective. There is little point in having someone take a train from Tampa to Orlando just to have to jump in a car to get to their final destination. There also has to be an infrastructure of feeder systems to intersect with that station (buses, light rail, taxis etc.)

    You also have to figure out whether or not the services can sustain themselves otherwise you are simply imposing a tax burden on everyone to pay for 11 riders on the train. You are also going to have to purchase an enormous amount of real estate to lay lines and place stations (stations are not small).

    Finally public transit brings unintended consequences to the suburbs – urban crime. Suddenly those criminals who restrict themselves to their locality can hop on a train and arrive in Clermont, let’s say, (where they would never have ventured to had mass transit not been available). Mass transit affords everyone access – not just the law-abiding ones.

  2. I couldn’t disagree more about putting light-rail in Central Florida. I live in Los Angeles where the light rail system has little to no impact on the traffic situation despite the constant upgrades and extensions.

    A “heavy” high-speed rail system is exactly what is needed, possibly with light rail to feed commuters to it.

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