I make no secret of my love for mass transit systems, particularly when they connect to airports. When I read tales of such systems coming to the USA I’m always a bit skeptical, mostly because so few cities here understand mass transit well. And when I read about such stories in Florida, well, forget about it. And so it was that I came across this piece in the Orlando Sentinel which has left me absolutely dumbfounded.
The gist of the story is that there are a number of rail projects happening in the Orlando area and the main airport there (MCO) wants to be connected to them. That makes all sorts of sense. Sadly, however, things start to fall apart pretty quickly after that. Apparently a private company is looking to build a $1 billion train connection between Miami and Orlando. But in order to connect it to the airport there is the need for a 1 mile monorail segment connecting a station the rail company will build to the main terminal. That one mile apparently will cost $181 million, plus nearly $80 million in other infrastructure improvements. In other words, one mile costs about a quarter of the full Miami-Orlando run. Say what?!?!
The station in Orlando is also supposed to be capable of connecting to SunRail, a local commuter rail system which is currently under construction. SunRail will require a bus to transfer from the closest station a couple miles away into the airport proper. And it also seems that the new rail station is being targeted for the opposite side of the airfield as the SunRail station, despite the suggestion that they will somehow be integrated.
I’m a big fan of mass transit and I’d love to see something like this work out. But the ideas out there right now just don’t make sense. Bad connections, bad station locations and wacky numbers. It just doesn’t add up.