As states around the country prepare to apply for shares of the $2.4 billion in federal high-speed rail aid that Florida's governor rejected, two recently released ridership and financial estimates show that the now-cancelled Tampa-Orlando line would have been profitable in its first year.

According to preliminary data released in early March by the Florida Dept. of Transportation (FDOT), the $2.7-billion system would have generated $62.9 million in revenue in 2015, its first year of operation, and posted an estimated $10.2-million profit.

By its 10th year of operation, the latest estimates indicate revenue would rise to $91.8 million in revenue and profits increase to $28.6 million.

Though the study is not yet complete, the preliminary information was presented to Gov. Rick Scott (R) in mid-February, according to FDOT. Scott announced on Feb. 16 that he was turning down $2.4 billion in federal funds for the project.

The governor’s office did not respond to a request for comment on the new data.

The study, which is to be completed by mid-April, is being conducted by two of FDOT’s high-speed rail consultants, Wilbur Smith Associates, Columbia, S.C., and Steer Davies Gleave, which is headquartered in London.

Both firms were part of the program management team hired by the Florida Rail Enterprise (FRE), a division of FDOT, to oversee the state’s rail program, says Nazih Haddad, FRE chief operating officer.

The two firms conducted their research independently.

Because the project has been terminated, the study is now being finalized for delivery to the Federal Railroad Administration and its parent agency, the U.S. Dept. of Transportation, which funded the report, says Haddad.

The new data represents an update of research conducted in 2009 for Florida’s application for federal funding for the project. That previous study was conducted by Wilbur Smith Associates and AECOM.

Haddad says the firms repeated the methodology of the 2009 study, including using questionnaires and surveys administered at proposed station locations, such as Orlando International Airport, to gauge market interest in the proposed rail system.

According to the results, more people were expressing a preference for riding high-speed rail than they did two years earlier. The latest estimates also indicate a sharp increase in ridership and revenue, compared with the 2009 study results.

The current data projects 3.3 million riders in the first year, based on an average of the two each firms' estimates. That figure was approximately 37% higher than the corresponding estimate in the 2009 study, which forecast 2.4 million riders.

Likewise, ticket revenue projections for the first year of operation jumped to nearly $60.8 million, from the 2009 estimate of $48.5 million.

By the 10th year of the line’s operation, the new studies estimated $88.2 million in ticket revenue, compared with the $65.4-million forecast in the 2009 report. The new estimates pegged ridership in the 10th year at nearly 4.5 million, compared with the 3.2 million forecast two years ago.