Coming soon to a train station near you

choochoo_0As a South Florida native, I’ve long gazed with envy at our neighbors in the northeast U.S. The freedom to schedule a last minute trip thanks to convenient rail travel has been a pie-in-the-sky fantasy here in the Sunshine State for decades.

Our closest brush with high speed train system came in 2010, when federal dollar were allocated for phase one of a route that would have linked Tampa, Orlando, Miami and points in between, but that plan was nixed when Gov. Scott rejected funding for the project.

Now it appears our luck may be turning, thanks to a private sector rail project that will initially connect Orlando and South Florida, with the possibility of Tampa and Jacksonville coming online in the future. It’s not going to be a high-speed system, but it’s a big step in the right direction.

From the environmental benefits and job creation, to the sheer convenience of knowing you can make it from Miami to Orlando in three hours, this is a win for Florida.

Perhaps most significantly, this will enhance Miami’s destination status, offering travelers visiting the Orlando area (already the most visited city in the world) an easy, highway-free method for making their way south. Best of all, the railway will terminate in downtown Miami, dropping passengers off right in the heart of the action.

My hope: that the public sector matches private enterprise’s investment by committing to the extend service to Tampa and Jacksonville by 2020.