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Old Posted Aug 20, 2012, 6:23 PM
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New Miami-Orlando train service could be boon to downtowns

August 18, 2012

By Michael Turnbell

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For travelers, it will offer a somewhat faster alternative to driving. For commuters, it means more than a dozen additional trains on the tracks, potentially causing delays for drivers at crossings. And for the cities, it may mean a boon to development.

- Broward's Metropolitan Planning Organization, which sets the county's transportation priorities, has already dedicated $8 million for a "mobility hub" adjacent to the station. It will serve as a maintenance facility for the city's proposed streetcar and will occupy two city blocks bounded by Andrews and Northeast First avenues and Northeast First and Fourth streets. Officials point to Dallas' Mockingbird Station, a complex of shops, restaurants and apartments next to the city's light rail line, as example of what they hope to achieve here.

- Trains will be make the Miami-Orlando trip in 3 hours, faster than by car. From West Palm Beach, it would take about 1 hour and 45 minutes. Amtrak now provides twice daily service from Miami but can take longer than five hours to reach Orlando. In July, Southwest Airlines said it was discontinuing its Fort Lauderdale-Orlando route in January, leaving Spirit and its two daily flights as the only carrier offering direct service between the two cities. The All Aboard Florida schedule hasn't been set but officials have said trains will leave hourly and offer premium amenities, including Wi-Fi internet service, gourmet meals, reserved business- and coach-service seating, and will be fully equipped with easy-on/easy-off baggage compartments.

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