Note: It was brought to my attention that freight traffic will NOT move to the western CSX tracks, in fact with the new tracks freight traffic is expected to grow. With the expansion of the Trirail to the Coastal Link and moving to the FEC tracks, we can hope that the deal includes freight moving to the CSX tracks, but at this point there are no agreements in place to facilitate this.

If you don’t have the time to read this article, I want you to just do two things.

1. Come to the AAF meeting on Wednesday, October 29th 3:30pm-7:00pm at the West Palm Beach Marriott Hotel & voice your opinions on All Aboard Florida (hopefully after you read this blog entry you’ll be in support of All Aboard Florida’s plans)

2. Read my epic tweet of the week (and maybe watch the video if you’re into some Good Vibrations).

OK, so here we go…

1. Infrastructure Upgrades

The South Florida rail system is a disaster. REALLY! The infrastructure is worse than most 3rd-world countries. It’s not safe, it’s loud, the stations are gross & inaccessible.

If you’re not convinced check out this statistic from a recent Palm Beach Post article:

There have been 61 deaths on all train tracks in Palm Beach County since 2008, according to a recent investigation by The Palm Beach Post. Of those, 47 were pedestrians, a Palm Beach Post analysis of medical examiner reports show.
A quarter of the state’s reported pedestrian rail deaths in 2011, 2012 and 2013 were in Palm Beach County.

If all we got from All Aboard Florida was a new and safe corridor with quieter tracks, and fully upgraded crossings, it would be worth it.

2. Enable faster completion of the Tri-Rail Coastal Link

I can’t believe this isn’t talked about more often, but the Tri-Rail Coastal Link is a plan to move the Tri-Rail onto the FEC tracks.

I’ve ridden the Tri-Rail a couple times. While it serves it’s purpose, it could be much, much better. I spent a lot of time on European trains, and the beauty of European train travel is that they travel through the hearts of the cities.

With the Coastal Link the Tri-Rail will move from traveling through commercial areas to the heart of our downtowns up the Florida coastline. All Aboard Florida will only have 4 stations, Coastal Link will run on the same tracks and have stations in each city along the coast.

Here is a concept drawing from 2010 of a Coastal Link station a couple blocks from my house in the South End of West Palm Beach. Once built, I would take a train from the Forest Hill Station into Downtown West Palm Beach, then change to AAF and be in downtown Miami in an hour.

Screen Shot 2014-10-27 at 8.30.43 PM

The Coastal Link has been in the works for many years, but All Aboard Florida’s involvement will make this a reality much quicker than planned.

See this recent Sun Sentinel article for more details about Coastal Link plans.

3. Added Development in Downtown West Palm Beach

There is a “Donut Hole” in the downtown West Palm Beach development.  This is the area that are either not-developed at all or are not living up to their full potential.

This is the red overlay in this map.

Screen-Shot-2014-10-27-at-8.50.51-PM

Something needs to happen to inject some life into this area, and All Aboard Florida is willing to put private money into getting the development started.

Within the next 5-10 years we’ll be a hub from everyone between Broward, Palm Beach and Martin Counties taking the Coastal Link into our Downtown to connect with the fast train to Orlando, Ft. Lauderdale and Miami. This will be a huge opportunity for all of downtown West Palm Beach.

4. Getting rid of the mile-long freight trains

This is a no-brainer for the residents of downtown West Palm Beach. Have been walking to Subculture Coffee, and had to stand in the sun for 10 minutes for a 100+ car train to crawl through downtown? Well it happened to me twice last week, and it is certainly something I look forward to getting rid of.

Let’s get the freight on the Tri-Rail tracks, and let fast (and short) passenger trains run through our downtowns. It just makes sense.

5.  Take advantage of a new exciting brand with a nationwide advertising reach.

Another thing that nobody has talked about.

All Aboard Florida recently explained that the passenger trains will not be managed under the “All Aboard Florida” brand, but a new unnamed company will be created and that brand will be advertised nationally.

The way I see this is that All Aboard Florida is locking the success of its new brand to the success of its ability to bring visitors to West Palm Beach. The more people that come to West Palm Beach by train, the more money they make.

The benefit of having this symbiotic relationship with a company which will no doubt have a massive advertising budget, can only benefit West Palm Beach.

Conclusion

I hope that if you’ve gotten to this point, you’ll agree with me in that there are some very good reasons for us supporting the All Aboard Florida.

I’m sure there will be those who say that I’ve drunken the cool-aid & that there are hidden pitfalls that I’m ignoring. Yes, there are certain challenges with a project as ambitious as this. But those who are looking to shoot down any change will find flaws in any argument & conspiracy in everything.

Eight meetings have been scheduled with the Federal Railroad Administration which will allow locals to give input on the project. Unfortunately, up until now, those who are against the project have also been the most outspoken. Now is the chance for the supporters to come out and support All Aboard Florida.

Here are the dates and times of upcoming AAF meetings

If you can’t make it to a meeting, you can also show your support online.

I’ll stop by the Marriott on Wednesday & I hope you will too!