A Florida TaxWatch Economic Report
The rise of commuter rails in Florida
Florida's population is growing much faster than that of the nation, largely due to the migration of residents from other states, and is expected to continue growing steadily for the next 25 years.
Twenty-eight percent of the population growth by 2040 is expected to concentrate in Miami-Dade, Orange, and Hillsborough counties.1The state's existing infrastructure and transportation channels will be stressed due to the rapidly growing population, and it will pose more challenges to the daily commute of millions of Floridians in those regions.
Florida has been making changes to its traditional transportation system in order to decrease vehicle congestion, and to provide new transportation and recreation amenities to residents and visitors alike. One piece of many proposed solutions for the long-term transportation needs of the state may be passenger rail service. New commuter rail projects are underway in Central and South Florida.
Central Florida: SunRail
The first commuter rail system to open in the United States in three years, SunRail started operations on May 1, 2014, connecting the town of DeBary with the Sand Lakes Road station, near Orlando International Airport. This newly inaugurated Phase I is 32 miles long, and includes 12 stations with stops at two large Orlando hospitals and medical complexes, and at the Amway Arena.2When completed, it is expected to spread across 61.5 miles in four Central Florida counties: Orange, Osceola, Seminole, and Volusia.
The new SunRail commuter rail system has been made possible through a public-private partnership. Phase II is expected to begin construction in late 2015, and will extend the line north to DeLand and south into Poinciana, servicing five additional stations.3
SunRail is designed not to conflict with rail travel of freight, as goods will still move to and from the region on a separate upgraded line.
1 Florida Office of Economic and Demographic Research
2 Reuters. "New commuter rail link ready to roll in central Florida"
3 SunRail. About SunRail.
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