Promoting passenger trains as a transportation alternative in Florida since 1983.  We are citizens who advocate for Amtrak, commuter rail, intercity rail and transit for Florida's future.

FCRP and the Silver Palm: A History Lesson

24 Jul 2009 4:44 PM | Jackson McQuigg (Administrator)

Commentary

Why New Orleans-Florida Sounds Like Tampa-Miami to Us!

In the recent past, the Florida Coalition of Rail Passengers has been a strong voice on the need to restore Amtrak service from New Orleans to Florida.

It has been a tough fight so far. And we have much more work to do-- all of us-- if we are to prevail.

However, FCRP has been fighting for better passenger train service throughout the state of Florida since its founding in 1983.

Consider the case of the original Silver Palm, which ran from Tampa to Miami in the mid-1980s.

Take a look at this entry concerning the Silver Palm on Wikipedia.

While generally accurate about the Coalition's efforts, the Wikipedia entry fails to disclose why FCRP's court case against the State of Florida was overturned on appeal.

Namely, FCRP did not have the financial resources to continue fighting the case. An expensive appeal bond-- which would have cost well more than what FCRP could afford in those days-- was required to continue the case. So we "lost" on appeal.

The Coalition was right in its cause then. Vindication came only a few years after the case was lost, when Amtrak reinstituted Tampa-Miami service-- under the Silver Palm name, no less!

A further irony is that Florida DOT is at present talking about investing sizable sums of the State of Florida's money in Tampa-Orlando-Miami high speed rail service.  

All of this recent history leads us to wonder: If a Tampa-Miami market for rail travel existed all along, why didn't Florida just keep the original Silver Palm running in the first place?

Which brings us to New Orleans-Florida.

Amtrak's recent report to Congress on the possibility of restoring New Orleans-Florida service is filled with all sorts of interesting data. Much of it is inaccurate.

Since the 1980s, FCRP has maintained that a market for a passenger train, if properly operated, from New Orleans-Florida exists. And it should be part of our national passenger train network.

Is anyone at Amtrak listening? Haven't we been through this before?

And as for Tampa to Miami service, nowadays the sky's the limit.

Well, we told you so, Florida. Way back in 1985.

--Jackson McQuigg

 

 

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