ATLANTA -- Florida's cabinet yesterday approved a privately funded $500 million plan to build the country's first magnetically levitated bullet train.
In granting certification to Maglev Transit Inc. to build the 13.5-mile facility in Orlando, Gov. Lawton Chiles and the other five cabinet members specified that no state funds be used to finance the project, said Charles H. Smith, an official with Florida's department of transportation.
"Maglev now has the authority to proceed, but it must do so on its own, without funding from the state," said Mr. Smith, former executive director of the Florida High Speed Rail Commission.
Mr. Smith said a preliminary plan detailing a financial plan and the route to be followed by Maglev Transit in building the system must be presented to the state within 60 days. That proposal, he said, could include a request to sell tax-exempt industrial development bonds.
Mr. Smith said Maglev Transit plans to begin construction on the rail line by next fall, with service provided by mid-1995. The system would suspend and propel the train through a network of powerful magnets.
Current plans, he said, call for the line to run from Orlando's International Airport to a terminal near Walt Disney World. The train, which would include four passenger cars and a baggage car, would make four round trips an hour and could reach a top speed of about 250 miles per hour, averaging a speed of about 150 miles an hour.
"The idea is to make this part of a single ticketed trip that would begin when visitors to Orlando leave their home airports," Mr. Smith said.