I’m responding to John Laird’s May 29 column, “All together now: ‘Thanks, Florida!’” on the subject of federal money for railroads. The project in Florida was the construction of a new high-speed passenger rail line between Tampa and Orlando, not a rail improvement project. Most Floridians I discussed it with agreed that it was not necessary, but instead a make-work novelty that if built would have to be subsidized by the taxpayers once in operation. As for jobs, the construction work would be temporary, and the cars would be built by Siemens in Germany or Bombardier in Canada. Operation of such modern systems is largely automated, except as governed by railroad unions.
Gov. Rick Scott’s approval rating decline is mainly due to his tactless and harsh assault on the teachers and school employees unions, not the rail issue. In fact, the previous governors, Charlie Crist and Jeb Bush, did not support the project either, when pressed.
If the Port of Vancouver can make good use of this money with no burden on the taxpayers, so be it. But the public will not “hear the passenger trains whistling” as the New York Times gloats, as there will be no high-speed passenger trains resulting from this windfall.