Last week, the Ubifrance-French Trade Commission hosted a trade mission in Florida that brought together the leading French rail and public transportation firms to develop business opportunities and exchanges within the state. The delegation included big names in French transport such as SNCF and SYSTRA Consulting, as well as manufacturers, engineering firms and transportation services specialists.
From Feb. 21 to 25, 2011, the delegation visited four regions that each has specific public transportation needs: Miami, Tampa Bay, Orlando and Polk County. Site visits and meetings served as showcases for cutting-edge technology in the field. Léo Le Brun, senior trade advisor at Ubifrance and organizer of the mission, explained that Florida's population growth will require better public transit and that France has the experience that will serve its projects well.
"Florida is one of the fastest growing regions in North America in terms of population. By 2040, Orlando's population is projected to increase by 67 percent, and Miami and Tampa will grow by about 35 percent. This population boom sheds a light on the need for better connectivity," said Le Brun. "France's transit services like the TGV (France's high-speed rail line) and metropolitan tramways are great examples of the country's extensive experience in public transport, as well as its continuing innovation in the field."
The goals for the mission were to better understand Florida's transportation needs, understand how commuter rail and local transit improvements can improve transportation for Floridians, and discover how the visiting French companies can assist.
The group visited sites such as the AirportLink Metrorail Extension Project in Miami-Dade County; TBARTA, Tampa City Hall (where they met with Mayor Pam Ioria) and HART headquarters in Tampa; and the Florida Department of Transportation and LYNX headquarters in Orlando.
The French delegation also participated in the SunRail Industry Forum on February 25, where the group interacted with FDOT and its partners in the commuter rail line project.