High Speed Rail

FIU Students Organize Second Miami Maglev Forum In Hopes Of Sparking Transportation Revolution

South Florida is known for many things. Beautiful weather, multiculturalism, hot nightlife and soul crushing public transportation that literally makes you want to die. (You don’t see that last part in the Chamber of Commerce brochures.)

One group of high achieving young people are trying to revolutionize the way South Florida gets around by bringing a radical form of public transportation here.

Two brothers—Darius and Demetrius Villa—and their friend, Aleksandr Khalfin, founded the High Speed Rail America Club (HSRAC) at Florida International University last year and they have found some success in spreading their message.

The club researches and promotes high-speed rail trains, also known as bullet trains, in America. Bullet trains, which average more than 150 mph, don’t exist in our country, and it’s a fuel-efficient and quicker way to travel, Demetrius told RISE NEWS in an interview last year.

They say that they are the leading high-speed advocacy group for millennials.

The group believes that Miami should build up an ambitious system of Maglev transportation that would eventually connect the Magic City to Miami Beach and FIU.

With a healthy amount of grassroots support now at their back, the HSRAC wants to get some political muscle on their side.

They plan to do this by presenting a Miami Maglev Forum on April 7th from 10 AM-12 PM on the FIU campus. And they hope that local political leaders will show up to learn about the proposed idea and to interact with young transportation activists.

They tried and failed at this once before.

“Last September, the group partnered with American Maglev Technology, the FIU Honors College, and All Aboard Florida to host the first Miami Maglev forum,” a press release from the HSRAC read. “While the forum itself had students and FIU community leaders in attendance, a grand total of zero representatives came from the leadership of Miami, Miami-Dade, and Miami Beach. Students were highly upset of the lack of leadership from their elected officials, and grew further disenchanted with the infrastructural direction of the community.”

The release goes on to say that transportation directors, commissioners, and mayors of all three municipalities (Miami-Dade County, City of Miami, Miami Beach) were emailed, and no responses were received from them.

“To make amends to both the citizens and their elected officials, we are hosting a 2nd Maglev Forum to be able to discuss ideas, the direction of the community, and towards finding a solution that the populace agrees with,” the release reads.

If you want to learn more about the group or the event, you can follow them on Facebook.

RISE NEWS is a grassroots journalism news organization that is working to change the way young people become informed and engaged in public affairs. Anyone can write for us as long as you are fiercely interested in making the world a better place. 

Cover Photo Credit: Thomas Lok/ Flickr (CC By 2.0)

Could These College Students Spark A High Speed Rail Revolution?

By Natalie Alatriste

High-speed rail is not exactly an issue that is at the top of many millennial minds these days. But a few local college students are working to change that reality.

Two brothers—Darius and Demetrius Villa—and their friend, Aleksandr Khalfin, founded the High Speed Rail America Club (HSRAC) at Florida International University.

The club researches and promotes high-speed rail trains, also known as bullet trains, in America. Bullet trains, which average more than 150 mph, don’t exist in our country, and it’s a fuel efficient and quicker way to travel, according to Demetrius.

“Half of my family lives in New York City, so about every year, we would take the Amtrak from Miami [to visit]. The train ride, however, takes an embarrassing 32 hours; it used to take 25 hours back in the 1930s,” Demetrius said. “During a visit in December 2012…as soon as I got to NYC, I started searching up other countries’ rail travel in the hotel.”

And this is where it all began.

Demetrius said he started doing his own research and became passionate about the issue—so much so, he applied for TEDxFIU in 2013 to present his idea of revolutionizing American rail.

TED is a “nonprofit organization that is devoted to ideas worth spreading,” according to its website, which will partner with independent organizations, like FIU, to “spark deep discussion.”


Because he wasn’t an experienced speaker, he wasn’t able to present in 2013. However, that didn’t discourage him from informing others on high-speed rail.

People started hearing about it, and now High Speed Rail America Club has 676 members on Facebook. The club is also opening two new chapters at other local universities—the University of Miami and Miami-Dade College.

HSRAC doesn’t solely focus on bullet trains; it also focuses on inner-city transit. The club wants to solve common transit issues, especially in Miami, where public transportation is not as strong as other metropolitan areas.

The group says that they are determined to bring Miami a Maglev train-rail system, which is a transportation system that uses powerful electromagnets to create the high speed, according to HowStuffWorks.com.

HSRAC is working with three private companies—Texas Central Railway, American Maglev Technology and All Aboard Florida—with hopes of creating a national vision.

The club works closely with All Aboard Florida, though, which is a passenger rail project connecting Miami to Orlando. All Aboard Florida’s website says the project is scheduled to begin this service in 2017.

The HSRAC introduced the Miami Maglev idea to All Aboard Florida, and hope to continue working closely with this already-established organization for the initiative.

The Miami Maglev system would supposedly connect FIU’s Modesto Maidique Campus with Miami’s South Beach. The students in the club have been hosting events at FIU, such as the Future of Transportation Day, where members raised awareness for high-speed railways and unveiled the idea of the Miami Maglev to students.

And the members say that they are not stopping until their visions become reality.

One member, Tolga Erbora, the director of railroading and public relations for HSRAC, said he’s confident his position will be taken to a professional level once he graduates.

“The High Speed Rail America Club is an opportunity to take action and fix the issues that come in the way of travelers today,” Tolga said. “It is also a great way to network with politicians and related businesses.”

The club is in the process of making a documentary called “The American Train.” Its release date is scheduled for sometime in October.

“With this documentary, we want to spark the conversation throughout FIU and nationwide. It will include interviews from FIU deans, local historians and executives from All Aboard Florida,” Demetrius Villa said. “With this, we’ll continue to make it a reality and get everyone on board.”

To show support or for more information on the High Speed Rail America Club, visit https://www.facebook.com/groups/hsrac/.

This story was originally published on www.risemiaminews.com

Cover Photo Credit: Thomas Lok/ Flickr (CC By 2.0)

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