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  1. Its definitely not a negotiating tactic, as they aren't negotiating for anything other then the Disney station at this point, which likely has nothing at all to do with the government: its gonna be what Disney wants. If its not DIsney property itself, its gonna be whatever real estate opportunity near Disney makes the most sense. The view is likely that Sunrail provides a source for riders to Virgin, whereas if local Orlando residents have to drive to the airport and park there, the cost and time savings will be eliminated. They needed some sort of local connection, Sunrail is a transfer spot that allows Sunrail riders to get to the airport, allows locals to park for free and ride the Virgin Train, and for those who want to, to use Sunrail to get to Virgin Trains to get to South Florida, or Disney and Tampa. Realistically, no matter what, the Sunrail station at the airport is going to require a lot of people to transfer, even if its just to another Sunrail train. Under no proposal is every Sunrail train proposed to stop at the airport... One proposal I've heard was to just run a Sunrail transfer train between the airport and another station thats set to always arrive at the same time as the Sunrail train, or another is to split the already infrequent trains to have only half of them go on the current south side of Sunrail, and have the other half go to the airport. Virgin Trains has no desire to use the Sunrail corridor, and is still going to be stuck building its entire rail line passing by Sunrail, so they have almost no potential savings, so why in the world would it make any sense for them to do that? Plus another huge problem is Sunrail is going to have really, really crapty hours. That means Virgin would be losing out on all possiblities of local traffic on all weekends and most of the day. Virgin isn't getting tax dollars, hell they aren't using any public infrastructure for free... Why in the world should we even ask them to do that? To me, the only one that makes no sense is extending Sunrail to the airport. Its far too expensive, its gonna have far too infrequent service to be useful, and will negatively impact the existing route. The 3 airport train stations should be given to: 1) Virgin (done), with the train stopping at Sunrail/Meadowwood 2) AMT/Globalvia or some similiar route, with the train stopping at Sunrail/Sand Lake as previously proposed 3) OBX whenever that is built, should be extended to the airport, and is supposed to have a stop at Lynx central station. All 3 stations will be able to transfer to Sunrail, which should provide frequent service to some path to Sunrail, They avoid the problems with Sunrail service getting even less infrequent on the south side, and seemingly doesn't have any disadvantage. Then, in the longer term, if OBX can get extended further north to the Villages, it makes all the routes make even more sense
  2. Its real easy to come up with benefits for Central Florida residents: 1) A connection from Sunrail to the airport seems more realistic through the Meadowwood station 2) For longer, overseas flights that leave from Miami and don't have Orlando offerings, we can travel by train to Miami's airport and not have to drive down there 3) We can go to visit South Florida and all it has to offer without having to drive or rent a car 4) Less tourists on the road as they can use this system to get to Disney rather then renting a car at the airport 5) We can possibly use a Sunrail to Meadowwood to Disney connection to visit Disney without having to park at Disney. 6) It provides more people who are likely to be willing to use our future transit systems, as it will help improve interconnections and thus ridership numbers on future transit systems. 7) Makes jobs locally etc
  3. That is hilarious. I mean, we definitely have some Republicans running as Democrats in more conservative states, as thats the only chance the D's have of winning in them. And vice versa. Is that possibly what is happening there? I have no idea on UK politics. Edit: The other thing that happens in America is people purposely register for the wrong parties to try to vote in their primaries/internal party votes. Sounds like it could be that as well?
  4. Technically the buildings are fully connected from within. I've been to conventions that use the entirety of the building, and you most definitely can just walk between the north and south halls from within. the issue is the concourses aren't connected. So if a convention hall closes at 4pm but they have meetings till 6pm that you want to attend, if you go to one meeting room in the north hall, then one to go to the next in the south hall, you have to walk outside and around the entire building. I'm sure it poses a number of other issues as well: - if a convention is separately ticketing the exhibit space and you are unable to cut through the center during normal hours - a convention that needs more meeting room space then either side offers alone but does not need exhibit space from both sides - needing ticketing/badges to be available on both sides separately etc One other thing I've been disappointed about is all of the newer skywalks no longer have the moving walkways on them, and the older ones all seemed to be turned off even during conventions that use both facilities. They were running buses between the buildings, which if they kept moving walkways on the entire path, probably wouldn't have been necessary. As it is, the skywalks seem to be barely used. Without them, the west hall seems to be barely walking distance to the north-south hall. BTW For those who haven't seen the Vegas Sphere (under construction):
  5. The realistic answer to that is gas taxes are that much higher in Gainesville then most people's home towns.... Alachua County gas tax is 12 cents per gallon on top of the state tax. Orange County is 6 cents. Combine that with the higher property taxes and its all just math.
  6. Vegas is in the midst of a $1.4 billion expansion on their convention center... and Sands Expo right near the Vegas Convention Center is building a 20,000 multipurpose venue. This expansion is to try not to fall behind Vegas, its a clear response to what Vegas is building. Even with this, we don't seem to have the budget they have this go around (we're at $600M this go around), but we are starting with a better set of facilities at least... they're promising to surpass us with what they're doing.
  7. But if it fails, is is far from guaranteed that the government would bail it out - Rick Scott sure seemed to have no interest in doing that. So even if it does fail, I'd expect it to still remain private, and just operated by someone else who has a lower cost basis, and literally the only ones who lose are the investors. If all the naysayers are right that its all about improving real estate value, that will drop way down if the trains disappear... See, I'm not sure if thats true. Often the problem with mass transit in this country (especially among the bus systems) is its built to serve the poor... which makes all of the middle and upper class have no desire to use the system. Its a system designed to only be used by those who can't afford it and non-desirable by those who can, and as the market has introduced literally any other option (lately Uber/Lyft), its led to an even bigger collapse of most of the mass transit ridership in this country. If instead of building for the poor, its built to make maximum profit, much more of the general public is likely to use it. Same concept as how you generally much more likely to see lower class people in, say, Whole Foods or Publix, then you are to see upper class people in the dollar stores.
  8. I believe it is in Florida as well - I remember about a decade ago, several of the Murphy USA's had stickers and flyers on every pump asking people to call their congressman to repeal the law to allow them to have lower gas prices. The concept of why the law is supposedly necessary is a large company could undercut prices and sell gas at a loss -- till everyone else goes out of business and they can buy up every station cheap and then hike gas prices The problem is if someone were to actually do that, they'd lose money for some time, and when they hike the gas prices, someone would come and open up another, cheaper station then them, all that losing money for nothing, so its a fake problem.
  9. Except if you look at Tri Rail numbers, Boca station is top numbers on that system. There clearly is interest there. And the area is upper class and business use, so its really ideal customers. Tri rail's made is clear Boca people are willing to travel to Miami, WPB, and probably Orlando by train, so why not try to take that business? Also, the vast majority of development occurs, needless to say, without a train station. The train station is supposed to increase the value of the real estate, to help make the numbers work better, but if Virgin Trains plans for the train system to fail, why in the world would the real estate be worth more by having a train? Whats the purpose of spending billions of dollars on track improvements and train stations, when realistically, much of the real estate where they've built stations thus far, they already owned and could have developed, without wasting money on a train station and track? And why have they already paid GOAA many millions of dollars in rent for space at the airport, where they own no land in the area, and at this point, it appears unlikely they're going to get a great real estate deal in Orlando, when, if they planned for the train to fail, they could have just ended with the South Florida phase? Its, again, a crapton of money they're throwing out there, with seemingly no improvement to their real estate holdings, by expanding to Orlando. yeah, but the vast majority of "the rich" are not that rich where they're going to charter a flight instead of take a luxury train or luxury car on this trip. For most of the rich, if they fly, they're going through TSA. Its a very small group of people who do not. I see a few reasons: 1) NIMBYs - they don't want anything to change from the status quo, have no interest in trains, so thats the end of story 2) Those scared of a private train succeeding - if this succeeds, I (and many others) think this will really change the odds of tons of new transit systems being built. If Florida can have a private company like Virgin Trains come in, fully build and operate the system at no cost to taxpayers, why should we be passing a 1% transportation sales tax hike to try to build a local, smaller train, that historically, hasn't performed as well in most areas? Politicians, and much of the left that wants the government to operate these systems and doesn't want them to be privately owned and operated, have much to lose if this system proves itself. 3) Those who want it to be built for the poor - On the same note as above, there is almost no chance of duplicate train routes being built due to the difficulty of the ROW. If Virgin Trains builds the only train connecting South to Central Florida, its apparent they're doing it mainly for the middle and upper class, as those will be the most profitable, while much of the transit built by government funds is typically targeted at the lower class. As we see from the stop locations, they aren't going to be convenient to the lower class, and Virgin isn't interested in building the only train system for them. Obviously the situation in Britain is a bit different - Virgin only operated it but didn't own the system. A contract simply ended. I don't think thats really a comparable. Do you have any evidence that privately run transit systems are more likely to fail than public ones? And its not tax dollars. Infact, if this fails, it can be pointed to as some sort of proof (which I'll disagree with, but I'm sure politicians will try) that we can't let the private system build transportation - thats a job for the government. No tax dollars will be lost in this project - unlike any Sunrail or Amtrak failure. I was saying that more in the sense that I haven't heard anything about it from them -- Lakeland was one of the stops on the government HSR plans along this same route, so many assumed Virgin would copy it. Yup, strongly agree with this. I wish people saw the Globalvia proposal for light rail/maglev this way when that came around. Even if they were right that it was a guaranteed failure, it was still an opportunity for Orlando to get bargain infrastructure if we planned to build a light rail system anyways, as we seem to be saying.
  10. Unfortunately Brightline seems less likely to consider that and stops outside of South Florida. My understanding is the thinking is once the train is at or close to its terminus, adding a few more stops won't actually generally effect the transit time to Orlando. South of the WPB stop, its limited to 80mph. But stopping the train while it could be travelling 125mph from West Palm to Cocoa will introduce a much bigger, and less beneficial delay. That seems to be the strategy: several stops in each major metro, but nothing between them. They've generally been quiet about the possibility of a Lakeland stop. I'm curious if they're considering it or they want faster speeds to Tampa and to avoid it.
  11. Mears often used the same business model as Uber, renting out their vehicles and calling all the drivers subcontractors. Uber at least gave more money back to the people. There's no significant difference between safety of taxis for ride-shares. Also, those projects collectively probably wouldn't carry as many people as Uber did over the past several years. And the most important point of them all: those losses are being paid for by willing investors who decided to take a risk in the company (and some may still pay off, Uber has invested much in self driving cars and other new products/services to try to compete in more areas and reduce costs). Nobody was forced to pay for Uber's losses or bad decisions: all willing parties. If any of those projects listed in that article fail, pretty much all the people are forced to pay. Just like California's HSR to nowhere forced literally everyone to pay for a failed service. If Uber fails, Mears could easily come back, or Lyft, or another competitor (Google's even expressed interest in the space). Nobody misses the Mears of the old days, where nobody was even sure if the taxi would show up at all. It was all just about what Mears felt like doing.
  12. I don't think they would have been able to get as much square footage if it was actually downtown, and without the square footage, we wouldn't be consistently within the top 3 in the country.
  13. I can't find the agreement which I did find before, but I did find they're currently paying $4 million in rent to GOAA each year for the terminal being empty, and when its operational, rent will go up. Mears will lose if Virgin continues west to Disney or any tourist attraction. It reduces the need for their services. I don't think Mears holds the power it once did... the introduction of Uber/Lyft really hurt them bad, and hasn't Mears been sold off at this point to some national investment company? But GOAA literally did butt heads with Orange County/I-Drive over the gate fee/minimum rent to cover all lost rental car revenue. Its apparent FEC was negotiating at the same time, so maybe part of it was they couldn't give AMT a great deal/minimal rent and charge Brightline a ton. When AMT/Globalvia couldn't come to an agreement with GOAA, they asked if they could split the project into 2 phases and prove the system operational with the route just from I-Drive/OCCC to Florida Mall, and then make the airport connection a phase 2, but the OC government denied that request, they said the airport needed to be in phase 1. Of course, at that time, there was little to no cooperation from Universal, and Universal didn't own the new land yet. So a lot of stuff has changed since that happened, so hopefully they'll give it another shot.
  14. To be fair, Virgin agreed to pay the airport a ton of money to rent the space for their stop... AMT/Globalvia refused. If Virgin goes ahead with the Disney route bypassing Universal, I do think its possible Universal sees a need for a response to that and feels their hand is forced to cooperate on an alternative route.
  15. Universal isn't "donating" the money for the Kirkman Road extension. They are funding it in exchange for an impact fee credit. Every piece of new construction is required to pay a variety of impact fees, including one for transportation.. However, if you are willing to fully fund an enhancement to a facility that will be given to the public, you can build that facility and get a credit for the value of it against any impact fees that will be do when a Certificate of Occupancy is to be issued. As an example, Universal would typically be required to pay $1796 per hotel room in transportation impact fees, and somewhere around $3-20/ per square ft for their park and related retail/office/entertainment uses. As an example, Universal should owe about $3.7 million in transportation impact fees for Dockside, and if they spend that on Kirkman Rd extension prior to the opening of the hotel, they can probably not pay it. The amount Universal pays for the roadway would probably be due in impact, and if its not, Universal will retain that credit for future construction of additional facilities. If Universal didn't go this route, they'd have to pay the same amount of money, but have no control of where its spent, other then by lobbying for it. Obviously since Kirkman Rd extension is critical to their operation, they want to make sure the money is spent on that, and this is the way to do that. This is common for all developers... for example, the reason Lake Nona is building and "donating" City of Orlando parks within their community, is they'd have to pay an impact fee for a park on each home sold, but if they build the park before they sell the homes, they can market said park, and ensure that money is spent within their community. The city often views this as a win, as they don't have to deal with building a park, and the projects can typically be done a lot faster.... The developer needs to spend the money first to get the impact fee credit, so they may build a park to cover a 1000 homes impact fees, and would have to have the park done when the homes are done. If they just pay the impact fees, the whole process of building the park has to start after the people are in the homes, so will take many, many years to get the facilities built. Also, Virgin, as a private entity, probably has a lot less arm twisting to do to get them to do what Universal wants. FDOT and Sunrail and related entities are not going to be easy to get them to build exactly what Universal wants unless Universal is willing to fully pay for it, and fund its operation; and then they'll still have to go through a more extensive public hearing and bureaucratic process. For Virgin, it just has to be the choice that makes the most financial sense, and since Virgin would be fully funding construction and operation, permission simply granted to them to use the ROW (in exchange for a fee). Universal's goals probably also don't hugely align with a more local oriented transit service. I imagine Universal has little interest in a system that would allow people to go all over I-Drive from their parks and make it easier to stay at off-site hotels without having to get into a car or non-Universal bus. They don't want to encourage their guests to explore the rest of Orlando. Sunrail, especially without it hitting the airport, just isn't going to provide much traffic or benefit to Universal. It'd probably be mainly for employees, especially considering the likely hours of operation and frequency of service There's also the huge benefit of either having a connection to Disney, which Universal wouldn't mind splitting vacations with because Disney is getting more of them and they probably feel they aren't stopping anybody from going to Disney, or eliminating the stop at Disney, making Universal a bit easier to access then Disney from the airport... no bus required. If that weren't the case, it seems Universal would just try to link up with AMT or Globalvia, who have previously proposed routes and negotiated for ROW on an airport-tourist area connection, and get it done that way. At least from what we've heard, there is no interest in doing that. I guess the interesting thing would be if they lose out convincing Virgin to modify their route, could they go at it alone? I'd bet no, but if Disney gets a train and they don't, its surely possible.
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