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Florida DOT Study Undercuts Scott On Rail Project; Predicts Profits

When he rejected $2.4 billion in federal funds for a high-speed rail project, Florida Gov. Rick Scott explained that the train line would lose money, and put the state on the hook to pay millions for the system. But a new study undercuts Scott's claim.

In fact, the proposed Orlando-Tampa line could show a profit of $10 million in its first year, according to the study.

From Miami, NPR's Greg Allen filed this report for Newscast:

The study was commissioned by Florida's Department of Transportation. It estimates more than 3 million people would use the train in its first year. In its tenth year, the study says, the high-speed rail line would produce a $28 million profit.

That directly contradicts Gov. Scott's contention that the line would lose money. Asked about it at a news conference, he said the study didn't change his mind.

"I had been briefed on their ridership study, and I looked at other ridership studies, and I'm still very comfortable with the decision I made," Scott said.

Florida Sen. Bill Nelson sent out a press release about the study, saying "Facts are stubborn things."

Nelson is waiting for word from U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood about whether a consortium of Florida cities may be able to apply and qualify for Florida's high-speed rail money.

Here's the full study, if you'd like to see for yourself. To read it more reasily, just click "fullscreen."

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Bill Chappell is a writer and editor on the News Desk in the heart of NPR's newsroom in Washington, D.C.