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Archive for the ‘Transportation’ Category

FUN AND GAMES AT THE AIRPORT

Posted by Tim Bryce on March 31, 2017

BRYCE ON TRANSPORTATION

– “Please report any suspicious behavior.” Are you kidding me?

Click for AUDIO VERSION.
To use this segment in a Radio broadcast or Podcast, send TIM a request.

It has been awhile since I’ve talked about airports. In the past, I enjoyed air travel but now look for excuses not to go, thereby avoiding the headaches associated with it. Suffice it to say, I find travel to be more laborious than exciting. I think the novelty wore off when they introduced the security checkpoints back in the early 1980’s. Now we have to strip and be subject to cavity searches by people who flunked their proctology exams in a foreign country. You really have to hand it to the terrorists for creating a billion dollar industry and putting the homeless to work as security inspectors.

Over the public address system you routinely hear the message, “Please report any suspicious behavior.” Hell, the whole thing is suspicious. People are plugged in and tuned out. Those people talking on cell phones look delusional as they wander aimlessly through the airport seemingly talking to themselves. Most are dressed as if they are going on a camping trip or bombing run. Even the security people look like they speak a foreign language, certainly not English. Report “suspicious behavior”? To whom? Muhammed, the head of airport security? I’ve also noticed airports are now much more handicap accessible than in years past, but perhaps they have gone overboard on some things. For example, when I went to the men’s room recently I noticed there was an infant changing table. Okay, fine, men change diapers now. No big deal. Over the table hung a sign denoting the changing table, but in addition to plain English on the sign I noticed a Braille version for the blind. This got me thinking how a blind person would ever find the spot and use it properly. I imagined a person groping around a strange airport and rest room until he finally arrived at the station only to miss the sign (as it was displayed a tad high and inset, making it easy to miss). He might even end up circling the rest room for hours to find the right spot to change diapers. God knows what he will use if he misses it.

Luggage carousels haven’t really changed over the years. The baggage handlers still send out the same 100 empty suitcases before any of the bags from your flight shows up. Actually, I think it’s a stalling tactic as they rip through your luggage to find the good stuff.

The Gestapo runs the ground transportation, for both pickup and drop-off, complete with bomb sniffing dogs, mirrors to look under your car, and tow trucks. Most do nothing but wave their arms incessantly, blow their whistle, and yell at you to move your car. I still haven’t developed the knack for picking up someone while the car is still moving. I guess I need more practice.

So, do I see anything “suspicious” at the airport? You tell me.

Also published in The Huffington Post.

Keep the Faith!

Note: All trademarks both marked and unmarked belong to their respective companies.

Tim Bryce is a writer and the Managing Director of M&JB Investment Company (M&JB) of Palm Harbor, Florida and has over 40 years of experience in the management consulting field. He can be reached at timb001@phmainstreet.com

For Tim’s columns, see:   timbryce.com

Like the article? TELL A FRIEND.

Copyright © 2017 by Tim Bryce. All rights reserved.

Also read Tim’s columns in the THE HUFFINGTON POST

NEXT UP:  THE PERILS OF PERSONAL HYGIENE – If you start to notice people starting to avoid you, perhaps it is time to invest in a bar of soap.

LAST TIME:  THE FAST-FOOD KIOSKS ARE COMING, THE FAST-FOOD KIOSKS ARE COMING!  – Get ready for major changes at the fast-food franchises.

Listen to Tim on WZIG-FM (104.1) in Palm Harbor,FL; KIT-AM (1280) in Yakima, Washington “The Morning News” with hosts Dave Ettl & Lance Tormey (weekdays. 6:00-9:00am Pacific). Or tune-in to Tim’s channel on YouTube. Click for TIM’S LIBRARY OF AUDIO CLIPS.

 

Posted in Transportation | Tagged: , , , , | 2 Comments »

HOW CAN ALLEGIANT AIRLINES SURVIVE?

Posted by Tim Bryce on July 20, 2016

BRYCE ON BUSINESS

– It gives the appearance of spinning out of control.

(Click for AUDIO VERSION)
To use this segment in a Radio broadcast or Podcast, send TIM a request.

Allegiant Airlines has become the running joke of the airline industry. I heard rumors of their incompetence for a long time, but it wasn’t until I finally rode with them from St. Petersburg to Asheville did I realize how bad it is. In my case, the returning flight was inexplicably cancelled, leaving over a hundred would-be passengers stranded in Asheville. This forced a friend and I to rent a car and spend the next twelve hours driving home, which was not a relaxing way to spend Father’s Day.

Since then I have heard a multitude of complaints about the airline:

* Recently, a flight from Jacksonville to Pittsburgh was delayed more than 18 hours.

* Another flight, from Sanford, Florida to North Carolina was delayed three times, causing the passengers to arrive ten hours late.

* A good friend of mine claims his wife was on a flight to North Carolina last year, but was detoured to another airport for fuel. The scuttlebutt was their credit wasn’t good at the Asheville Airport.

* Another friend told me a story of how he was removed from an Allegiant flight because he was carrying his daughter’s cute five pound tranquilized dog in a proper carrier, all because the lead flight attendant threw a fit over the sleeping dog. Although he objected to the false accusations of the attendant, that he wasn’t obeying her commands, he didn’t resist and was turned over to two armed police officers who laughed at the absurdity of the incident. My friend and the dog were allowed to leave on another flight the next day, but not to his planned destination, causing him to rent a car to travel home. This embarrassing story caused him to seek legal counsel.

In April, Allegiant performed an “Air Pilots Satisfaction Survey” of their pilots and first officers. Of the 507 responses to the survey, they found:

46% of the pilots and first officers said they are not satisfied working at Allegiant.
83% say morale is low.
89% are not satisfied with their pay.

A report produced in May claims the pilots feel there is a lack of a safety culture with the airline. According to Teamsters Local 1224 President Daniel Wells, “Almost half of the pilots said they will not allow their own families to fly on the aircraft.”

This has caused the Allegiant pilot resignation rate to increase 600 percent between 2011 and 2014 according to the union.

All of this has caused the FAA to audit the airline ahead of schedule with a report due out soon.

As far as I could tell, my flight cancellation was a public relations nightmare creating many unhappy customers. Initially, there was only one agent to try and cope with over 100 disgruntled passengers. Extra agents were eventually summoned, but the damage had been done. As far as I was concerned, Allegiant handled the flight cancellation badly, but even worse, they didn’t seem to care about their paid customers.

The next day I called Allegiant’s Customer Relations department and, to their credit, they refunded my money.

Allegiant tries to do as much business as possible through their web site. Contacting a human being by telephone is difficult. For those interested, here are the official numbers for their Customer Relations department: 702/505-8888 and 702/430-3250.

All of these Allegiant stories would be funny if air transportation wasn’t so serious. As for me, this was my first and last experience with Allegiant. At the rate they are going, I cannot imagine how they will survive.

Also published with News Talk Florida.

Keep the Faith!

Note: All trademarks both marked and unmarked belong to their respective companies.

Tim Bryce is a writer and the Managing Director of M&JB Investment Company (M&JB) of Palm Harbor, Florida and has over 30 years of experience in the management consulting field. He can be reached at timb001@phmainstreet.com

For Tim’s columns, see:   timbryce.com

Like the article? TELL A FRIEND.

Copyright © 2016 by Tim Bryce. All rights reserved.

NEXT UP:  LOSING A PASSION – What happens when you are forced to quit something you are fond of?

LAST TIME:  THE CLINTON DIRTY TRICKS DEPARTMENT  – What shenanigans will they pull before November?

Listen to Tim on WZIG-FM (104.1) in Palm Harbor,FL; KIT-AM (1280) in Yakima, Washington “The Morning News” with hosts Dave Ettl & Lance Tormey (weekdays. 6:00-9:00am Pacific); and WWBA-AM (News Talk Florida 820). Or tune-in to Tim’s channel on YouTube.

Posted in Business, Transportation | Tagged: , , , , | 2 Comments »

ANGERS AWEIGH; CUSTOMER SERVICE AT SEA

Posted by Tim Bryce on January 27, 2016

BRYCE ON CUSTOMER SERVICE

– Losing your cool at sea is not conducive for relaxation.

(Click for AUDIO VERSION)
To use this segment in a Radio broadcast or Podcast, send TIM a request.

We went on another ocean cruise over the holidays. It has become somewhat of a family tradition with us. This time we tried a Norwegian Cruise Lines (NCL) ship, “The Spirit,” out of Port Canaveral, Florida for a week long tour of the Eastern Caribbean, a favorite of ours. Unfortunately, this turned into a bad experience and I will never recommend NCL to any of my friends. I have been on many different ships and cruise lines, but this, to me, was the worst I ever experienced. The stops along the way were fine, the room a tad smaller than normal, but we could live with it, and the food can be described as mediocre at best. The real problem was customer service or the lack thereof. This went way beyond just bad service, it was gross incompetence. The only person who seemed to know what he was doing was our cabin steward. However, the bartenders, waiters, and the maitre d’s turned this into a horrible experience, and frankly gave the appearance they couldn’t care less. Let me give you some examples:

First, prior to the cruise, I had ordered and paid for a couple of bottles of champagne and chocolate covered strawberries for our cabins as part of our “bon voyage.” Unfortunately, they were never delivered by the staff, even though I called room service twice to check on the order. Perturbed, the next day I went to the front desk and asked for a credit to my account. The clerk, a young woman from Croatia, looked at me as if I had three eyes. She said the items were still to be delivered. I told her she obviously didn’t understand what a “bon voyage” gift meant, and demanded my money be refunded. I was informed it would take two weeks to issue the credit which I thought was rather unusual; NCL was quick to take my money to make the purchase, but slow to issue a refund. Interestingly, on the third day of the cruise, room service knocked on our cabin door with the champagne and strawberries. They obviously missed the memo and we told them to get lost.

The next incident was staged at one of the ship’s many bars, a small one with about ten stools, of which my son and I sat along with an Englishman we met. Two bartenders were actively taking orders and serving customers, except us, and we sat directly across from them. I leaned over to my son and the Englishman and said, “Let’s see how long they neglect us; let’s wait fifteen minutes and see what happens.” Again, the bartenders were directly across the bar from us. Fifteen minutes came and went with no service whatsoever, and my Scottish blood began to boil. I then got up, slapped my hand on the bar and loudly said, “What in the world is the matter with you two; are you stupid? We’ve been waiting here for fifteen minutes and you don’t even look up at us to ask for our order? Are you stupid?”

They both jumped back surprised and said, “Oh sir, you should make a sign to request service.”

“You want a sign? Well here it is,” and I took off my hat and waved it in their faces, “Here, we want service!” And they finally got our drinks. I have to admit I was explosively angry causing a stir in the bar, but the Englishman commented I was justified in my outburst.

When I turned 60, I made a pledge to myself there would be “No more games,” meaning I would no longer tolerate incompetence. Whereas over the years I was taught to be patient, courteous and wait my turn, I learned people charged with customer service will abuse such people and take them for granted. In other words, patience and manners comes at the cost of being treated badly. If you wait your turn, you will likely lose it to another obnoxious lout. So, I decided to fight fire with fire, thereby employing the axiom, “The Squeaky wheel gets the oil.” However, on an ocean cruise, the intention is to have passengers relax, not erupt into anger and upsetting everyone concerned, particularly the disgruntled passenger.

Part of the problem is the NCL adopted a policy of automatically including an 18% gratuity into every cocktail or item you buy on board. The ship’s crew takes this for granted thereby becoming apathetic towards the passengers. In other words, the passengers are automatically tipping the servers for both good service and bad.

There were many other problems along the way, such as having our luggage delivered to our cabin very late, meaning we couldn’t clean up before dinner, elevators were constantly dirty, as were tables in the casino and bars. Half empty glasses, ashtrays and debris were everywhere and nobody seemed interested in cleaning them up.

When I happened to mention this to some of the other passengers, they too were in agreement the service was rotten. Some claimed to have cruised on other NCL ships and experienced satisfactory service, totally unlike what they found on “The Spirit.”

This cruise had an adverse affect on me causing me to redefine an Ocean Cruise as “a journey at sea with incompetent service, unsanitary conditions, mediocre food, and traveling with people you would normally not be seen with.” All because of incompetent customer service.

So, why does NCL allow this ship to get into such a condition? Blame should obviously be pinned on management where the officers accept inferior workmanship, and have allowed the crew members to take passengers for granted, probably because of their policy of including gratuity into every bill, large of small. Beyond this, I believe society has been trained to accept incompetence as a natural part of our existence. Instead of complaining, we tend to roll with the punches and accept whatever the vendor is willing to give us, good or bad. To me, this is indicative of a decay in our culture where we used to work harder to please customers knowing this would result in references and repetitive business. A little customer service would have gone a long way to alleviate the problem. Evidently, NCL no longer cares.

As for me, I did not like having to create an ugly scene, it was unsettling. Shortly after returning home, one of my friends observed I looked more agitated than relaxed. It was obvious the cruise did not agree with me. This is why I will not cruise with NCL again. It was such a toxic experience, I may give up cruising completely, regardless of the line.

Keep the Faith!

Note: All trademarks both marked and unmarked belong to their respective companies.

Tim Bryce is a writer and the Managing Director of M&JB Investment Company (M&JB) of Palm Harbor, Florida and has over 30 years of experience in the management consulting field. He can be reached at timb001@phmainstreet.com

For Tim’s columns, see:   timbryce.com

Like the article? TELL A FRIEND.

Copyright © 2016 by Tim Bryce. All rights reserved.

NEXT UP:  THE NEED FOR CONCEALED WEAPONS CLASSES – Why it should be considered mandatory to attend such classes.

LAST TIME:  UNDERSTANDING THE TRUMP PERSONALITY  – People simply do not understand the “Type A” personality.

Listen to Tim on WJTN-AM (News Talk 1240) “The Town Square” with host John Siggins (Mon, Wed, Fri, 12:30-3:00pm Eastern); WZIG-FM (104.1) in Palm Harbor,FL; and KIT-AM 1280 in Yakima, Washington “The Morning News” with hosts Dave Ettl & Lance Tormey (weekdays. 6:00-9:00am Pacific). Or tune-in to Tim’s channel on YouTube.

Posted in Business, Transportation, Travel | Tagged: , , , , , | 4 Comments »

OUR FASCINATION WITH TRAINS

Posted by Tim Bryce on May 13, 2015

BRYCE ON TRAINS

– How we perceive our trains is how we perceive America.

(Click for AUDIO VERSION)
To use this segment in a Radio broadcast or Podcast, send TIM a request.

Many years ago when I was a lad, my friends and I would put pennies on railroad tracks. We would hide and wait for a massive freight train to flatten them into a shiny, paper-thin strips of copper with Lincoln’s face still visible. We would then have a lucky token or something to exchange, such as for baseball cards or candy. Thus began my love affair with trains.

During the early 1960’s, my father commuted by train from Connecticut to Manhattan. If we wanted to go into the city, the New Haven Railroad was the sensible alternative to driving. This was my first train ride which I found fascinating as do most children on their first trip. I remember it was comfortable and very scenic. We moved away from Connecticut in 1965, and the New Haven RR filed for bankruptcy shortly thereafter.

Since then, I have traveled on a wide variety of trains of different makes and models. In Chicago, the North Western RR was a commuter service to and from downtown. It would stop at Arlington Park, a well known horse track, where executives could catch the last few races of the day and have dinner. We would also take the North Western to Wisconsin for skiing trips. It played an important role in the lives of the residents of Chicago. After we moved from Chicago, the North Western also was shut down and replaced by the Union Pacific.

I have also had the pleasure to ride on Japan’s Shinkansen or “Bullet Train” which reached speeds over 100 mph as I traveled between Tokyo and Osaka. It was clean, comfortable, and an enjoyable way to see the Japanese countryside. A few years ago, we took Alaska’s Denali Star Line from Denali State Park to Fairbanks, an enjoyable ride inside double-deck dome cars, which made for a picturesque viewing of the Alaskan wilderness. I have also been on many subways, including the London Underground (also known as the “Tube”), as well as in Japan, New York, Philadelphia, and the “L” trains in Chicago. I have also had the pleasure of riding the legendary San Francisco Trolley Cars which are not trains in the strictest sense, but an enjoyable ride nonetheless.

Trains used to define America. They criss-crossed the nation as the primary form of transportation for many years. During times of war, troop trains moved soldiers throughout the country and was symbolic of the greatness of our country and its unity. Trains bore proud names like The Zephyr, The Hiawatha, The Chief, and The Comet, all before political correctness caught on. Sleeper cars were comfortable and clean, if not a little cramped. Dining cars served good food and drinks. Massive train stations became the busy hubs of cities, all designed as architectural wonders. went to the station not just to travel, but to eat, drink, talk business, and pickup the latest newspaper. However, this all began to fade away with the rise of automobiles and airplanes after World War II.

Since 1971, the country has relied on Amtrak, a publicly funded passenger service managed as a for-profit business. The American taxpayer has been funding Amtrak on an average of $1.4 billion per year. In other words, it cannot stand on its own feet. When you compare it to domestic airlines and bus services, Amtrak earns twice the amount of revenue per passenger mile, and consumes much less energy to operate. Only the airlines have a better safety record. Regardless, it cannot survive without the support of the taxpayer.

I have never traveled on Amtrak personally, but several friends have told me of their experiences, which weren’t exactly glowing. Nonetheless, Amtrak continues to modernize in order to compete by including such things as free Wi-Fi on board, e-ticketing to compete with the airlines, and powerful new GE locomotives. Despite all this, Amtrak suffers from an image problem. If you are interested in traveling around the USA, your first inclination is to consider the airlines, then the Interstate Highway System, and finally Amtrak. Service, reliability, on-time performance, safety and price is what Americans consider when it comes to transportation, not to mention a financially sound operation.

In Florida, we recently shelved the idea of creating a passenger train system which would unite the major cities. Frankly, the people liked the idea in theory, but realized it would be cost prohibitive to implement with little in return on investment. Other states have also considered such massive projects. I believe people are attracted to such endeavors not so much for practicality, but as a fond reminder of a bygone era and our love affair with the train.

I believe our fascination with the train is because we perceive it as this massive and powerful locomotive, followed by several cars for passengers or freight, a complicated piece of equipment consisting of millions of parts, making it a marvel of engineering and transportation. Yet, to me, despite its strength and complexity, it is a thing of beauty, sleek and elegant, a real athlete. It reminds me of a thoroughbred race horse like the late great Secretariat, an animal you were simply in awe of. I believe this is how a lot of us look at trains, making each journey an interesting ride.

Our fondness for trains is so great that toy trains are still a favorite, especially during Christmas time. Kids love them, even to this day. I still have our Lionel train set from the 1950’s. Whenever I set it up around the Christmas tree, I vividly remember how much I played with it as a child, not just because it was a toy, but because it was a train, a symbol of strength and beauty. The train set still works as well as it did 60 years ago, maybe because I keep it safely wrapped up in its original packing. It may not be as glitzy or combative as a computer game, but it is a gentle reminder of the greatness of trains and our love affair with them.

Although trains have experienced a decline in this country, I cannot imagine America without them. The sound of its horn, the rhythm of the tracks, the comfort and service of the cars, and the majesty of the beast itself is how I perceive trains, and an iconic reflection of our country.

Keep the Faith!

Note: All trademarks both marked and unmarked belong to their respective companies.

Tim Bryce is a writer and the Managing Director of M&JB Investment Company (M&JB) of Palm Harbor, Florida and has over 30 years of experience in the management consulting field. He can be reached at timb001@phmainstreet.com

For Tim’s columns, see:  timbryce.com

Like the article? TELL A FRIEND.

Copyright © 2015 by Tim Bryce. All rights reserved.

NEXT UP:  DRIVING CIRCLES AROUND DISNEY – How a seemingly easy drive turned into a nightmare.

LAST TIME:  CHINESE FOOD SAMPLER  – Chinese food says a lot about the local area.

Listen to Tim on WJTN-AM (News Talk 1240) “The Town Square” with host John Siggins (Mon, Wed, Fri, 12:30-3:00pm Eastern); WZIG-FM (104.1) in Palm Harbor,FL; and KIT-AM 1280 in Yakima, Washington “The Morning News” with hosts Dave Ettl & Lance Tormey (weekdays. 6:00-9:00am Pacific). Or tune-in to Tim’s channel on YouTube.

Posted in Transportation, Travel | Tagged: , , , , | 3 Comments »

EQUALITY OF DRIVING

Posted by Tim Bryce on November 10, 2011

Whenever I have somewhere to go with friends or family, I normally volunteer to drive. When people ask me why I do so, I explain it is not simply because I enjoy the act of driving, as much as I somehow appreciate the equality involved. Let me explain. It occurred to me a long time ago that driving is one of the few venues in the world that doesn’t recognize a socioeconomic class structure, race or religion. Regardless if you are a multimillionaire driving a Rolls Royce or Lamborghini, a bum driving a jalopy, or anything in-between, driving requires everyone to behave equally. Rich man, poor man, beggar man, thief, everyone is on the level and must behave as such in order for this important transportation system to work. And for some reason, knowing I can start each day on the level with everyone else is encouraging to me.

Some people are easily wowed when they see an expensive automobile on the road. Frankly, I couldn’t care less what you drive or who you think you are. We’re all equal on the road as any member of the Law Enforcement community can attest. They only care the rules are being observed and traffic is flowing unimpeded. Other than that, they are unconcerned with your stature, regardless if you are a politician, celebrity, millionaire, or whatever.

Some see driving as analogous to socialism whereby we must all move along on the roadways equally. Well, not quite. I see it more akin to capitalism where I can drive as ambitiously or lackadaisically as I am inclined to be, not to mention courteous or rude. Nonetheless, I am responsible for my actions. If I decide to drive recklessly, I may incur a moving violation or perhaps worse, such as an accident. In this event, I will have to pay the bill, not the other motorists. To my way of thinking, I see each day as another chapter where I must get from point A to point B in the most efficient means possible. In other words, a capitalistic race to the top.

My grandfather, who moved to this country from England following the first World War, also loved to drive his car everywhere. So much so, he would even drive his car down the block just to post a letter in the mailbox. His car was his pride and joy, and he would go to great lengths to keep it clean and running smoothly. His pride of ownership clearly demonstrated he was a capitalist.

The one bit of satisfaction I get on the highway is when I either outmaneuver the millionaire in the Lamborghini or watch him get a ticket for speeding. Either way, I realize the system works. Yep, I’m a capitalist too.

Keep the Faith!

Note: All trademarks both marked and unmarked belong to their respective companies.

Tim Bryce is a writer and the Managing Director of M. Bryce & Associates (MBA) of Palm Harbor, Florida and has over 30 years of experience in the management consulting field. He can be reached at timb001@phmainstreet.com

For Tim’s columns, see:
http://www.phmainstreet.com/timbryce.htm

Like the article? TELL A FRIEND.

Tune into Tim’s THE BRYCE IS RIGHT! podcast Mondays-Fridays, 7:30am (Eastern).

Copyright © 2011 by Tim Bryce. All rights reserved.

Posted in Automotive, Social Issues, Transportation | Tagged: , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

HIGH-SPEED RAIL: MAKE-WORK PROJECTS?

Posted by Tim Bryce on February 6, 2011

In business, in order to keep people busy, “make-work” projects are devised to keep workers busy until they are needed for serious endeavors. Such projects were commonplace in Franklin Roosevelt’s “New Deal” of the 1930’s to try and get the country back to work. We are also witnessing it as part of the Obama administration’s stimulus program. Here in Florida, the most visible example is the proposed high speed rail project (aka, “Bullet Train”) to go between downtown Tampa and the Orlando airport. Over time, it is envisioned it would also connect Orlando with Miami, but for now, Tampa-to-Orlando is the first step.

This is something Florida voters have been debating well before Obama took office, going back to 2000 when voters first approved the development of such a train. By 2004, voters had second thoughts and repealed the train after realizing the hefty price tag associated with such a project. Then in 2009 with President Obama now in office, the Federal Government offered billions of dollars to states for stimulus projects, particularly high speed rail. Florida enjoyed a head-start over others as they had already been surveying land and planning routes. So much so, Florida was the only state who had a “shovel ready” project ready to be executed. However, Florida’s legislators and governor are now weighing the pros and cons of such a project before agreeing to accept the stimulus money.

Railroads played a significant role in Florida’s development, both in terms of freight and passengers. They began to appear in the 1830’s. By 1888 the Orange Belt Railway arrived in St. Petersburg, and by 1910 the Tampa and Gulf Coast Railroad arrived in Tarpon Springs, all of which played a significant role in opening up the Tampa Bay metropolitan area where I live. We also had a trolley system in Tampa and I believe in St. Petersburg as well, both of which disappeared as the automobile emerged as the dominant mode of transportation. This scenario is similar to what other cities in the United States experienced. Except for major metropolitan areas, local passenger rail service was replaced by automobiles and buses.

Now the state is entertaining the idea of introducing a rapid transit system based on the rail with other states closely watching our progress. To me, this discussion is a non-issue as rail travel is questionable at best from an economic perspective and likely represents an obsolete technology for passenger transportation. I like trains as much as the next person, it is a nostalgic reminder of a bygone era. The reality though is if passenger rail transportation was so good, why did we abandon it? Simple, people wanted their independence and found the automobile a cost effective solution for their transportation needs, thus began our love affair with the automobile. There are, of course, storm clouds on the horizon as the cost of petroleum keeps rising and we have developed an undesirable dependence on foreign oil. The question though is whether rail transportation is the right technology to gamble on for the future. Other than bringing money and jobs to build the train today, I contend politicians have yet to build a compelling argument in favor of it from a long term perspective.

There are three aspects to consider: logistics, time savings, and costs. In terms of logistics, people in the Tampa Bay area question the wisdom of having high speed rail originate from downtown Tampa as opposed to its airport which is considered more accessible to the public and has ample parking. The estimated time savings between Orlando and Tampa is a mere 30 minutes, which is not substantial (plus you have greater independence by automobile). Development costs are significant and will undoubtedly result in jobs to build it, but what about afterwards to operate and maintain the rail system? It is my understanding the major rail systems in New York, Chicago, Philadelphia, and Washington, DC all rely on subsidies. In other words, the taxpayer foots the bill. In business, most companies avoid undertaking projects without a substantial return-on-investment (many require at least a 200% ROI). This is hardly the case in the proposed Tampa-to-Orlando connection.

Bottom-line, the high speed rail system proposed for Florida is an expensive proposition with negligible long term benefits and a questionable return-on-investment. So the question becomes, why should we entertain such a proposition? Some would answer, “To put people to work today.” True, but it would inevitably create a burden for the taxpayer tomorrow. High speed rail is a risky proposition no matter how you slice it which will affect us for years to come. Surely government officials will study it carefully before making a final decision. Ultimately, they must determine if high speed rail is the right transportation technology for our future and not just a link to our nostalgic past. As a Florida taxpayer, I want them to make the right decision, and not one that does nothing more than “make work.” Let’s do our bit to help the economy and allow the federal government to keep the stimulus money.

Keep the Faith!

Note: All trademarks both marked and unmarked belong to their respective companies.

Tim Bryce is a writer and the Managing Director of M. Bryce & Associates (MBA) of Palm Harbor, Florida and has over 30 years of experience in the management consulting field. He can be reached at timb001@phmainstreet.com

For Tim’s columns, see:
http://www.phmainstreet.com/timbryce.htm

Like the article? TELL A FRIEND.

Tune into Tim’s THE BRYCE IS RIGHT! podcast Mondays-Fridays, 11:30am (Eastern).

Copyright © 2011 by Tim Bryce. All rights reserved.

Posted in Politics, Transportation | Tagged: , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment »

 
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