Meet The Nimby Facebook Group “Florida NOT All Aboard”
The first private passenger rail service in the U.S. in nearly a quarter-century is scheduled to begin operations soon. Brightline, a subsidiary of the Florida East Coast freight railroad, plans to launch service between Miami and West Palm Beach by year’s end, with plans to expand to Orlando, Tampa, and Jacksonville in the following years. In addition to providing passenger service, it’s spearheading an ambitious redevelopment project around its planned Miami station, contributing to that city’s building boom.
Brightline is also responsible for potential train accidents in South Florida.
At least that’s the conclusion of a devoted group of Treasure Coast residents. Visit the Facebook page of the anti-rail advocacy group “Florida NOT All Aboard”, and you’ll see certain opponents seize on a variety of rail accident stories to imply that passenger rail (which already exists, along with freight rail, on a large portion of the corridor) presents an existential danger. After a person committed suicide by walking onto Brightline’s tracks, the group shamefully exploited this tragedy, referring to her as Brightline’s “first victim.” You won’t, however, find posts advocating for highway teardowns, even though road fatalities are far more prevalent than rail fatalities. Granted, Brightline’s trains will operate at higher speeds than existing trains. Nonetheless, wouldn’t FNAA’s energy be better focused towards ensuring safety, in lieu of blatant obstructionism?
In other cases, the page linked to a story about a lawsuit concerning delays to the redevelopment project, and has complained about delays to the rail project. Does the FNAA crew oppose Brightline and its auxiliary initiatives because they don’t want them, or because they’re taking too long to start? Or perhaps they just want to complain?
Unfortunately, this symbolizes a school of thought towards most projects, whether they be for transit, housing or retail. Problems real and imagined are presented not as challenges that can be accounted for, but as fatal flaws that are used to condemn entire projects. It’s time to break this cycle.
Ethan Finlan is a writer and sketch comedian based in the Boston area.