Thursday, January 6, 2011

Report: Tampa-Orlando high-speed rail could cost
taxpayers $3B more than expected

From Nancy Smith of Sunshine State News on Jan. 6:
As new Gov. Rick Scott mulls over high-speed rail's cost versus public benefit, he's unlikely to miss a new Reason Foundation study and accompanying research on the proposed Tampa to Orlando project.

According to the report, if the high-speed rail line goes over budget or fails to meet ridership expectations, Florida taxpayers could get stuck with a bill of up to $3 billion.

Long-standing research shows costs are underestimated on nine of every 10 large passenger rail transportation projects, with cost overruns averaging 45 percent higher than anticipated, says the Foundation. "If the Tampa-Orlando rail line were to go over budget by 45 percent, Florida taxpayers would be on the hook for $1.2 billion more than the $280 million currently forecast," the nonprofit think tank claims.

The Reason Foundation warns that Florida may be miscalculating the costs of high-speed rail by even more than that. Consider, it says, that the expected cost of building the first segment of California's high-speed rail line is 111 percent higher than Florida's -- $67.8 million per mile compared to $32.1 million per mile in Florida. The costs of the Tampa-Orlando system would be $3 billion more than advertised, using California's estimated cost per mile.


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