Updated January 31st, 2010.
Florida will be the recipient of $1.25 billion to go towards the payment of a new high speed rail, which will help go towards opening up the Tampa-Orlando corridor, as well as a Miami- Orlando line as well. While the money is not enough to complete the project, proponents for the rail celebrated after years of working hard to try and develop mass transit in the sunshine state, but not all are pleased. Fox News' Glenn Beck attacked the program as nothing more then wasteful government spending, and joked about why anybody would take a high speed rail between Tampa and Orlando when they can just hop in their car and make the hour and a half drive, or an even sillier notion, visit Orlando only to visit some cigar factory in Tampa.
Glenn Beck cites as proof that he has lived in Tampa and that he has made the drive between the two metropolitan areas and that a train is just not worth the hassle, but while he only insults the project, dismissing any need for the rail line. Maybe Glenn Beck has spent too much time in Connecticut, but Beck is seriously mistaken about the high speed rail.
First, to address his claims about the amount of time it takes to travel down Interstate 4, anybody can tell you that it takes about an hour to get to Tampa, but that is on a good day, which are few and far between. Traffic is constantly backed up. There are several areas that experience gridlock in the Orlando area, and I am not discussing single exits, but stretches of Interstate 4 that pretty much span all of Orlando, stretching from Universal Studios to Winter Park. Then you have the Disney area in the other direction which is a whole other story. Typically, between Disney and the outside of Tampa, like around the Seminole Hard Rock Casino and Hotel, is an easier drive, but then you hit Tampa. Take into consideration various other contributors to traffic, such as sporting events, concerts, rush hour, construction, or accidents, and you are looking at a two hour or more drive. Just today, it took me almost two hours to get from Altamonte Springs, through Downtown, just to get to Sea World (an accident occurred on Universal Blvd. causing major congestion on all surrounding roads such as Sand Lake Road, International Drive, Turkey Lake Road, Kirkman Road, and I-4). Either Beck drove in the wee hours of the morning or he hit the bottle before getting behind the wheel, but the fastest I have ever made it to Tampa was 50 minutes, and that was driving over the speed limit after midnight.
Glenn Beck also mentions the absurd possibility that somebody may actually want to visit the other city if they were on vacation. Why would somebody visiting Disney in Orlando ever want to go to Tampa? Beck must not have heard of the award winning and family friendly Lowry Park Zoo or the theme park that is not Disney World, Busch Gardens. What about students who would like to attend University of South Florida or Central Florida, or the numerous other colleges such as Valencia Community College or Rollins College, which are ranked as some of the highest in the nation. Even commuting to and from work would be feasible using a high speed rail, especially when taking into consideration the cost of gasoline and wear and tear on one's car. Also, there are the many surrounding areas of Tampa, such as Clearwater, which has some of the nicest beaches in America. There is also the consideration that there are many who don't have cars, and the opportunity to take public transportation to another area is very promising. I may be rambling, but the fact is Glenn Beck is an idiot who either has never really lived in Florida or just doesn't care about others who do.
Connecting two of the largest metropolitan areas in Florida with mass transit is important in aiding the economic development and diversification of one of the largest and most populous states in America. Glenn Beck needs to get a life.