Virgin Trains bond request in limbo as meeting ends without decision

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A Brightline train passes through Lantana, Fla. The company, now Virgin Trains USA, is seeking bonds to help finance its expansion to Orlando, but a meeting on the bond proposal adjourned Wednesday without resolution.
TRAINS: David Lassen

ORLANDO, Fla. — A meeting to review Virgin Trains USA’s request for $2.7 billion in private activity bonds, needed to fund the passenger operation’s expansion from South Florida to Orlando, adjourned without a resolution on Wednesday — because the number of people waiting to speak on the topic made it impossible for the meeting to finish on time.

The Florida Development Finance Corp. meeting was adjourned after two hours with more than two dozen speakers still waiting to address the board on the request from the company being rebranded from its original name, Brightline, the Florida Business Journal reports.

No date was set for continuation of the meeting, leaving Virgin Trains in limbo in its request for reauthorization of $1.75 billion in previously approved bonds [see “Brightline bond request approved, expansion to Orlando on horizon,” Trains News Wire, Aug. 30, 2018], plus another $950 million. While numerous government officials expressed support for the project, opponents — centered in Indian River County, which continues to fund lawsuits to block the passenger service — questioned Virgin Trains’ financial status. The company’s president, Patrick Goddard, said the current Miami-Fort Lauderdale-West Palm Beach route is doing well and will do better once the system is expanded to Orlando.

Goddard also said the Virgin Trains wants to break ground this spring on its expansion and hopes to be operating to Orlando International Airport within three years. He also said the company is in discussions with the Walt Disney Co. about a station at Walt Disney World, which would be part of an extension from the Orlando airport to Tampa.


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