Financial Realities of the
All Aboard Florida/Virgin Trains Project
Hundreds of streets now cross the tracks in towns and cities. AAF/VT is demanding local taxpayers pay millions of dollars for those roadway retrofits and increased annual maintenance fees for upgraded equipment at every grade crossing. Indian River County has filed a lawsuit challenging the demands.
Now taxpayer grants are going to support a program for increased patrols to catch and fine trespassers; $250 million in tax monies went to the Orlando station, $100 million to replace the Loxahatchee Bridge; grants for pedestrian safety and millions more in annual crossing maintenance costs paid by the municipalities.
Virgin Trains shelved its IPO in February. 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 - Virgin missed it's 2018 ridership projections by a mile and are on track to miss 2019 projections by 50%!
Along with lagging ridership, the system lost $117 million in 2018 and is averaging $20 million lost each month in 2019.
AAF/VT 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 PAB's, we believe...
Taxpayer dollars should not be used for this