by Wendell Cox, Adrian Moore
December 02, 2013
The Tampa to Orlando high-speed rail project was cancelled by Governor Rick Scott in 2011 to shield Florida taxpayers from billions of dollars in liabilities. Yet, a recent report for the Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT) estimated that the line could have earned an operating surplus of $38.0 million by 2026. International research indicates that passenger rail projects are characterized by optimism bias in ridership and revenue forecasts. On average, eventual ridership totals 39% below forecast. If the Tampa to Orlando high-speed rail had equaled the international average (which seems optimistic, given recent cost trends in the high-speed rail industry), the cost overrun would have been $1.2 billion (45%). These deficits would have been the responsibility of Florida taxpayers.