November 8, 2010

Why we would rather drive

High-speed rail is slow in coming
to Central Florida. © Bombardier
Americans have been accused of loving their cars too much. But that affection is just the result of having passenger trains that are almost useless.

Central Florida has two rail projects on the horizon: SunRail, a commuter line I could take to work, and high-speed rail, which would connect Orlando and Tampa with stops at Disney World and Lakeland. This will be very helpful for people going from Lakeland to the Orlando or Tampa metro areas for major sporting events, concerts, airports, etc. It would also keep folks going from Orlando to Tampa off Interstate 4, theoretically. Of course, then you're reliant on rental cars or the quality of mass transit at your destination.

This difficulty in getting from one place to another led Busch Entertainment to run a charter bus from Orlando to Busch Gardens Tampa. Very clever, and quite handy. The only drawback was when I wound up with a tired child at Busch Gardens at four o'clock in the afternoon, and the bus not scheduled to leave until five. Ah well. We sat in a cafe and ate ice cream.

All this came to mind because I had to go to a meeting in Boca Raton this week, and a friend offered to drive. I was tempted to drive myself so I could leave as soon as the business part of the meeting was over, and skip the dinner and socializing. But it would be irresponsible to drive two cars if we could both go in one. Besides, I need to practice being sociable.

Then I thought -- maybe I could take a train. Yeah, right. No, go on, look. Just to see. Sure.

The meeting was to start at 1 p.m. The morning train leaves Orlando at 10:30 a.m. and takes four hours and fifteen minutes to get to Delray Beach (the train doesn't stop in Boca -- it's Delray or Deerfield Beach). That would mean traveling the day before and staying overnight. Told ya. Plus, I'd need a bus or a taxi from Delray to Boca, unless I could find an indulgent South Florida friend.

Interstate 95, on the other hand, got us from Orlando to Boca Raton in three hours. More importantly, an Amtrak ticket -- one way -- costs more than a tank of gas, and my friend made this trip -- round trip -- on one tank.

For completeness' sake, I looked at air travel, though of course a plane ticket would cost about five times as much as a tank of gas. But the airlines can only fly me into Fort Lauderdale. Boca's airport is a small general aviation facility without scheduled flights by major airlines. To fly into Boca, we'd have to charter a flight.

November 1, 2010

Candidates oughtn't leave the electorate guessing

FFPC: One of the only sources for help with those Judge elections
As I finish up my candidate research for tomorrow's election, I'm struck by two things.

First, I see that both at CF News 13 and at Florida Family Policy Council, many candidates neglected to answer surveys. This not only makes voters' research more difficult. It also sends a signal that the candidate is either not dedicated enough or not organized enough to place his information into important forums.

Second, I'm really disappointed that once again I'm left having to choose between Republicans and Democrats. With few exceptions, all the others are just flakes.

Perhaps I'm being harsh. They may not all be flakes. Some of them may only be undedicated or disorganized.