For decades, Amtrak has been the only train system to serve most Florida cities, save for Miami. In the coming years, however, residents and visitors to the Sunshine State can expect a more extensive and much more connected Florida-wide rail network. Here are six examples of Florida cities that are climbing on board:
Despite being Florida’s largest city by population, Jacksonville has struggled to successfully implement public transit since the end of its comprehensive electric streetcar system. Today, the city’s Skyway elevated people-mover transports riders around downtown, but its only other rail option remains Amtrak – at least until the city becomes linked to All Aboard Florida.
In a previous post I wrote about How to Revolutionize a City’s Transit System, profiling Orlando’s under-construction and planned rail projects. Apart from these local projects – SunRail commuter rail and a potential maglev circulator – Orlando will also be the terminus of All Aboard Florida’s first line headed straight for Miami.
While Tampa’s electric streetcar use peaked in 1926, the 2002-built TECO Line Streetcar seeks to relive this heyday. The line has already spurred downtown development. With future expansions and a potential connection to All Aboard Florida, Tampa may one day return to its transit-oriented nature.
West Palm Beach
Although the city’s own transit is limited to buses, West Palm Beach is a major stop on the existing Tri-Rail commuter line, future Tri-Rail expansions, and the planned All Aboard Florida line.
Like West Palm Beach, Ft. Lauderdale is connected to Tri-Rail and is a planned stop on All Aboard Florida. Unique to Ft. Lauderdale is its upcoming Wave Streetcar, which will connect to the Tri-Rail expansion as soon as 2016.
Currently, Miami boasts the nation’s most-used downtown people mover (MetroMover), the tenth-most-used heavy rail system (two lines of MetroRail), and a connection to the eleventh-most-used commuter rail system (current Tri-Rail line). Add to this up to three new lines of Tri-Rail and a connection to All Aboard Florida in the coming years.
Rail transit is expensive and difficult to implement, but provides a cost-effective, environmentally sustainable option for the future. This multitude of moving parts that is rail in Florida will eventually come together and create a comprehensive network.
Which type of transit do you think is most effective for growing cities?
Credits: Image and data linked to sources. Map copyright Alex Lenhoff.