Letters to the Editor

All Aboard: Florida’s transportation fix

Achieving our state’s full potential requires improvements to all modes of transportation. This is why I’m a proud supporter of the planned All Aboard Florida express passenger rail system that will connect South and Central Florida.

This transportation solution will improve access between two major educational institutions and connect the state’s most populated and widely visited regions, spurring new opportunities for increased coordination and partnerships between the University of Miami and the University of Central Florida.

This alternative offers a huge benefit to tourists and business travelers needing more efficient and convenient options for getting around the state. Another segment that will see the new service as a significant advantage will be Florida’s university student population and their families.

Florida is home to some of the largest and finest colleges and universities in the United States, including the University of Miami and the University of Central Florida. In fact, our two universities combined represent more than 65,000 enrolled students this year. Imagine the convenience All Aboard Florida will provide these students and their families throughout the school year, helping to make home and school visits much easier and, in all likelihood, more frequent.

It’s exciting to envision the opportunities for special events and college sporting events, as well. Recent studies have shown that young people are driving less and waiting longer to get their driver’s licenses. This is a drastically different position from even 20 to 30 years ago. Millennials are more likely to use public transportation so they can focus on what matters to them, whether it’s catching up with friends, staying productive or just the ease of their commute. According to the American Public Transportation Association, transit use is the highest among young adults — especially the 20-to-24 age range. We will continue to attract a larger and more diverse student body by having access to a reliable and convenient intercity passenger rail system like All Aboard Florida.

While All Aboard Florida is privately owned and operated, they have fully embraced the spirit of collaboration. Project representatives have worked tirelessly up and down the state corridor meeting with homeowners, business owners, civic groups, elected and appointed officials — anyone who has an interest in learning about All Aboard Florida’s plans.

This project offers job creation and economic development in and around stations and a new, desirable way for travelers to move between two of Florida’s most important locations. Reducing traffic on Florida’s congested roads and the environmental benefits this brings is an additional bonus.

Demand for a convenient, comfortable and affordable passenger rail solution is well recognized, and All Aboard Florida’s planned service can provide a missing piece in our state’s transportation puzzle.

Donna Shalala, president, University of Miami, Coral Gables