Last week, Florida Governor Rick Scott rejected $2.4 billion in federal funds to build a modern passenger rail line between Orlando and Tampa that would have created jobs and supercharged Florida's tourism industry. Instead, he placed short-sighted partisan politics above people's transportation needs and job creation. Governor Scott's apparent motivations were reflected in his partisan statements criticizing President Obama.
Americans want modern, fast and better rail service that can improve mobility, reduce pollution, create jobs and spur economic growth. Polling shows that high-speed rail support is not limited to people in so-called "red" states or "blue" states. People want better transportation options. According to a recent Rockefeller Foundation survey, 80 percent of those polled agree that federal investment to improve and modernize transportation "will boost local economies and create millions of jobs from construction to engineering."
Scott's ridership math is misleading and uninformed. He attempts to justify his ridership skepticism by saying that "only" 3.2 million people ride the Northeast's Acela trains, but ignores the other 7.6 million passengers who take the slower, but less expensive, Northeast Regional trains in the same corridor. Together, these trains serve more passengers than all airlines combined in these markets.
Scott has cost us thousands of jobs and billions in economic development at a time when people are hurting. He has prioritized scoring partisan political points against the President over gaining job creation and better transportation options for many people. The American public deserves better, especially in these challenging times.