Posts Tagged ‘Brightline’

Florida County to Appeal to U.S. Supreme Court

May 26, 2020

A Florida County that has long opposed the efforts of Brightline to build an extension to Orlando is making a last ditch appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court.

Indian River County contends that Virgin Trains USA, which operates the Brightline service, should not be eligible for $2.7 billion of tax-exempt private activity bonds.

The bonds are being used to finance construction of the Orlando extension.

The Florida county argues that there is an open question about whether a federal agency can interpret the law and whether courts should defer to that interpretation.

In a legal brief, the county said the matter is “critical to the separation of powers” between agencies and the courts.

Indiana River County has been fighting and losing in the courts for years in its efforts to thwart Brightline.

It’s most recent setback was a federal appeals court ruling that Virgin can use the bonds as intended for expansion.

County officials have approved $200,000 to make one appeal to the Supreme Court.

Brightline Service Suspension Extended

May 21, 2020

The suspension of intercity rail service by Virgin Trains USA in Florida has been extended for several more months.

Virgin, which operates the service  formerly known as Brightline between downtown Miami and West Palm Beach, declined to say when service might resume.

The service was suspended on March 25 due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

In social media posts, Virgin blamed pandemic work-from-home policies and social distancing mandates for the continuation of its service suspension.

In Twitter and Facebook posts said Virgin expects it will take a long period of time for service demand to return to pre-virus levels.

In the meantime, Virgin has laid off 250 employees including some senior staff.

Virgin said it would continue work on extended its route from West Palm Beach to Orlando.

A public filing last month said service to Orlando is expected to begin in 2022.

Before service was suspended during the pandemic, Virgin trains had seen rising ridership, reaching 271,778, an 11 percent increase year-over-year increase.

Amtrak Trims More Service, Brightline Suspended

March 26, 2020

Additional Amtrak service reductions have been announced and Florida intercity rail passenger operator Brightline has suspended all service.

The latest Amtrak cancellations include reducing the level of service of Missouri River Runner service effective March 30

The two daily roundtrips between St. Louis and Kansas City will be cut to one with trains leaving Kansas City at 8:15 a.m. and St. Louis at 4 p.m.

The St. Louis-Kansas City corridor was the last in the Midwest to be unaffected by the COVID pandemic-induced service reductions.

Effective today Vermont Gov. Phil Scott has ordered all Amtrak in that state to be suspended.

The Vermonter, which normally operates between Washington and St. Albans, Vermont, will not operate north of New Haven, Connecticut.

On its reduced schedule, the Vermonter will not operate on Sundays.

The Ethan Allen Express, which normally operates between New York and Rutland, Vermont, will not operate north of Albany-Rensselaer, New York.

Scott said he took the action after consulting with Amtrak. He also issued a stay-at-home order for residents of his state and directed the closure of in-person, nonessential businesses in order to minimize unnecessary activities outside of homes.

In Florida, Brightline, which is owned by Virgin Trains USA, laid off 250 of its more than 300 South Florida workers this week.

Brightline said on Wednesday that it was suspending all service in the wake of the pandemic.

The layoffs included Bob O’Malley, vice president of corporate development.

In a statement, Brightline said it hoped to rehire most of its workers once service resumes, but said it could not say when that might be.

A report in the Miami Herald said more than 700 construction workers on a project to extend Brightline track to Orlando remain employed.

Virgin to Build Station in Boca Raton

December 13, 2019

Virgin Trains USA will build a station in Baca Raton, Florida, after that city council there approved a long-term land lease for the construction of the station and parking garage.

The facility is expected to open by late 2020, becoming the third new station for the service also known as Brightline.

Other new stations are planned at Aventura and PortMiami. Brightline trains currently stop only at West Palm Beach, Fort Lauderdale and Miami.

Virgin will pay for and operate the station, which will be built on a 1.8-acre site near Palmetto Park Road and Dixie Highway.

The city will fund most of the design and construction of the 455-vehicle parking garage adjacent to the station, but Virgin will be responsible for all operating expenses of the garage and the parties will split the profits.

Virgin May Gain Another Station in Miami

October 8, 2019

Virgin Trains USA may spend $76 million to build a new station for its rail service in Miami-Dade County, Florida.

The proposed location of the station is near the Aventura Mall. The facility would also serve Metrorail and buses.

The county could use its half-percent transportation tax to purchase land for the station, which would be built by Virgin with public funding.

Miami Mayor Carlos Gimenez has been pushing for a vote by the County Commission on that plan.

Thursday, but a source familiar with the planning said Monday night that a special meeting next week is more likely.

Virgin has pledged to give Aventura-bound passengers a 35 percent discount on its normal fare for trips between Miami and Fort Lauderdale.

Currently that fare is $15 today, so a ticket to Aventura would be $9.75 one-way.

Virgin would funding station operations and services with its existing trains and staff. The service is commonly known as Brightline.

Brightline Service Resumes Today

September 4, 2019

Virgin Trains USA plans to resume Brightline service in Floriday today (Sept. 4) and will offer a far special to entice passengers aboard.

The carrier is offering $10 fares for travel through Sept. 8.

Brightline service had been halted earlier in anticipation of damage from Hurricane Dorain, which tracked to the northwest of Miami and had minimal effect on the city.

Amtrak service to Florida remains suspended through Thursday, Sept. 5.

Brightline Service Suspended Ahead of Hurricane

August 31, 2019

Florida intercity rail operator Virgin Trains USA is tweaking its Brightline schedule and fares ahead the expected landfall of Hurricane Dorian.

Brighline said trains will adopt a modified schedule starting today (Aug. 31).

The final northbound and southbound departures from West Palm Beach and Miami will depart at noon and fares have been cut to $5 per passenger.

An alternate schedule of southbound trains include an 8 a.m., 9 a.m.,10 a.m. and noon departure from West Palm Beach and northbound train departing Virgin MiamiCentral at 10 a.m., 11 a.m. and noon.

Service will be suspended after the last trips on Saturday.

Dorian will be the strongest hurricane to make landfall in Florida since Brightline began operation in early 2018.

Virgin Carried 1 Millionth Passenger

July 26, 2019

Virgin Trains USA said it reached the 1 million passengers mark this past June.

The service formerly known as Brightline, operates between Miami and West Palm Beach, Florida, with an intermediate stop in Fort Lauderdale.

The service began between West Palm Beach and Fort Lauderdale in January 2018 and was extended to Miami in May 2018.

“This milestone shows the demand for new ways to travel and the need for greater connectivity in South Florida and other areas of the country,” said Virgin Trains President Patrick Goddard in a statement. “While we’re still in the adoption phase, our inaugural year showed great promise and tremendous opportunity to reinvent passenger rail in America.”

Virgin Eyes Adding 3 More Stations in Florida

July 17, 2019

Virgin Trains USA is considering adding as many as three new stations to its route between Miami and West Palm Beach, Florida.

The carrier formally known as Brightline said that additional stops will slow its trains but boost ridership.

The carrier has not named the cities it is considering, but among those thought to be in contention are Hollywood, Boca Raton, Pompano Beach and a site in Martin County.

Officials in Hollywood said they recently met with Virgin officials about creating a station downtown.

Hollywood is already served by Tri-Rail commuter trains to Miami, but Virgin trains are likely to be faster and cost more to ride.

Boca Raton officials said they hope to meet with Virgin officials soon about establishing a station there.

For the first quarter of 2019, Virgin said it carried of 244,178 passengers and netted revenue of $5.8 million.

It has set a goal of 2.1 million passengers and between $50 million and $100 million in revenues in 2019.

Virgin Holds Groundbreaking on Orlando Extension

June 29, 2019

A groundbreaking ceremony was held this week by Virgin Trains USA to kick off construction of an extension of its route in Florida from West Palm Beach to Orlando.

Virgin, formerly known as Brightline, is building 170 miles of new track to Orlando International Airport.

Construction actually began, though, a month ago and has been divided into four zones.

In a news release, Virgin said the project will require 225 million pounds of U.S. steel, 490,000 ties, and 2.35 million tons of granite and limestone for ballast.

The groundbreaking ceremony was held in Orlando, which a terminal has already been established at the airport.

Virgin said the extension to Orlando is an investment of $4 billion. The carrier currently offers intercity passenger service between Miami and West Palm Beach.