Brightline is sole bidder for Orlando-Tampa service

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Brightline's Orlando International Airport station is complete, except for tracks, as seen in January 2018. The company is the lone bidder on Orlando-Tampa service.
Bob Johnston

TAMPA, Fla. — Florida transportation officials announced Wednesday that Brightline was the only bidder to submit a formal proposal to construct tracks and operate intercity passenger trains between Orlando International and downtown Tampa, mostly in the median of Interstate 4.

Submissions in response to a June request for proposals to develop the route were due Nov. 1, and some news reports suggested that there might be as many as four bidders. Brightline triggered the process in March with an unsolicited proposal to develop the right-of-way.[See "Brightline permits for Orlando expansion get OK; Tampa is next target," Trains News Wire, July 9, 2018.]

A state selection committee is scheduled to meet Nov. 28 to evaluate the proposal.

The fact that Brightline’s station at the Orlando Airport has already been constructed even though service from Miami could be at least three years away certainly gave the company a built-in competitive advantage over any competitors seeking to bid on the Orlando-Tampa route.

Meanwhile, the Tampa Bay Times reports that Tampa voters overwhelmingly approved two new Hillsborough County taxes for schools and transit Tuesday by a two-to-one margin. Similar legislation had been defeated in 2010, but now has broad-based approval. The money could give a significant boost to transit connections or highway improvements the city may provide in connection with rail expansion to Tampa.

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