Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Dec. 8: Tri-Rail Is a Lot More Than a "Choo-Choo Train"

By Sylvia Gurinsky

Maybe State Sen. Gary Siplin of Orlando needs to get away from the area close to Walt Disney World. Perhaps he can take a trip south to the part of Florida that is home to one-third of the state's population.

Maybe then, Siplin can take a look at Tri-Rail, the commuter rail system that links that one-third together - and not refer to it as a "choo-choo train," as The Miami Herald quoted him in today's edition.

Maybe he and most of his fellow lawmakers can comprehend how important Tri-Rail is to Southeast Florida and to those who ride it - usually to work and back. Maybe he can comprehend the blow the local economy - and thus Florida's economy - would take without it.

The bill Siplin and his Florida Senate colleagues are considering would preserve Tri-Rail and help it get needed federal funding. It would also create SunRail, which would provide an equally necessary commuter rail system for Central Florida.

Siplin makes a valid point about Florida not spending enough on education, including higher education.

But students take Tri-Rail, too. They need it. If the Senate kills this bill, does Siplin want to be the one to explain why to those students - and explain to them just how they're going to get to school?

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