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Would high-speed rail be worth my money?

1:47 AM, Jan 29, 2010   |    comments
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A computer rendering shows what a proposed high speed rail line would look like on the Interstate 4 corridor.

TAMPA, Florida - With tickets expected to cost between 10 and 30 dollars per one-way trip, a number of 10 Connects viewers asked, "Who will ride the train when it's completed?"

According to the DOT, about 10 percent of the 274,000 people who make trips each day between Tampa and Orlando will take advantage of the rail once it is completed (estimated early 2015).  A trip from Downtown Tampa to Lakeland is expected to take 18 minutes; Disney will take about 40 minutes; International Drive in Orlando will take about 50; and Orlando International Airport will take no more than 59 minutes.

But - on the heels of the President's rail announcement - we investigated if driving between the two cities was actually easier and/or cheaper than getting on a train.  We started at the site of the future Tampa station where the old Morgan Street Jail used to be (near the I-275/I-4 junction).

The 75-mile drive to the Orange County Convention Center on International Dr. took 1:26 in rush-hour.  That's 36 minutes slower than rail promises.  And the $12 in gas we burned each way was the same as the cost of an estimated one-way ticket on the train.

Tickets on the train are expected to cost more - up to $30 each way - if you don't buy in advance or in bulk.

For more on our findings, watch Noah Pransky's report on the upper right.

Noah Pransky, 10 Connects

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