Financial Realities of the Brightline Project
When the corporation pulled it's plan to finance Brightline with an IPO, an analyst at Renaissance Capital said, “We were concerned about the demand for that type of transportation in Florida — it’s unclear.” She said, the cost of the expansion projects proposed were “astronomical” and “daunting.” She wasn't wrong - the system missed it's 2018 ridership projections by a mile and missed 2019 projections by over 50%!
Prior to the Covid shut down, the system was losing money and pushing more capital expansion costs on to the taxpayers. Brightline is demanding local taxpayers pay thousands of dollars for roadway retrofits at hundreds of grade crossings and increased annual maintenance fees for upgraded crossing equipment. Indian River County filed a lawsuit challenging the demands which was settled in 2021.
With 76 dead, the desperate company is asking taxpayer to foot the bill for safety upgrades and $250 million in tax monies went to the Orlando station. They needed $100 million to replace the St. Lucie River Bridge and when they didn't get tax dollars they decided on a fix-up plan and the bridge will be closed for 3 weeks at the height of the summer season.
Along with lagging ridership, the system lost $117 million in 2018 and in the first 9 months of 2019 had lost over $154 MILLION. The losses only stopped when Covid stopped service!
Brightline will have massive debt but Grupo Mexico, owner of FECR and the tracks, will have double freight capacity to all deep-water ports in the state. From crossing costs to counties, to federal and state grants, to the indirect taxpayer subsidies of Private Activity Bonds from the US DOT, we believe...
Taxpayer dollars should not be used for this