The Reality -
We Told You So....
Virgin Trains & AAF
The last thing we wanted to be saying is "we told you so," but now that All Aboard Florida’s Virgin Trains USA has been operational, we find ourselves saying just that.
We “fearmongers” find no solace in being right.
We said when 34 trains per day start speeding through our coastal towns there would be fatal accidents. Since Virgin Trains started testing, there have been 42* fatalities. With that many dead, where is the Federal Rail Administration or the Florida Department of Transportation?
We, along with many others, including John Freidman, an associate professor of economics at Brown University, predicted the company would have to charge exorbitant ticket prices to offset operating costs and debt service. Virgin Trains is now on track to meet Freidman’s projection of $110.7 million annual losses with no stability in ticket pricing.
We said it would not be privately funded and already they are using taxpayer subsidized, tax-exempt private-activity bonds to pay off previous debt. The largest issuance in Florida history and one of the largest in the country, the grant of these bonds to this project results in the bonds being unavailable for other projects that are legitimately in the public interest and should they fail, they could be a financial detriment to Florida’s bond market.
Opinion Contributor to TC Palm
* Updated to the current death toll.