Brightline says it is on track to open its three new South Florida stations by the end of next year.
The rail service’s financial filing states that the Boca Raton and Aventura stations will begin service in October 2020. Meanwhile, a PortMiami station is expected to start service by December of next year. The three new stops are projected to add two million passengers to Brightline’s annual ridership.
In addition, the service will officially be rebranded as Virgin Trains USA in the coming months.
The Boca Raton City Council is scheduled to vote on that city’s proposed station on December 10. Mayor Scott Singer, who is seeking re-election, stated in a newsletter last week that the deal just got “a lot sweeter for residents.” He added that the plan “has moved in the right direction,” with the rail line agreeing to contribute more than $25 million toward the station and parking garage. The city and company would then share parking profits.
Singer also explained that the company has agreed to:
-Lease the land from the city and pay all expenses, maintenance and insurance.
-Pay up to $300,000 to relocate a community garden adjacent to the railroad tracks.
-Keep parking for a nearby library free, with a dedicated entrance to the garage, while increasing the number of available spaces for library patrons.
-Extend the distance between the garage and a small group of residences neighboring the station.
Brightline spokesman Mike Hicks responds, “Brightline, soon to be known as Virgin Trains USA, continues working with Mayor Singer, the city council and city staff on a partnership that will deliver a Brightline connection to Boca Raton by the end of 2020. We’ve seen tremendous support from residents and business leaders throughout the process.”
The company and city are working to identify funding sources for a pedestrian bridge that would go from the station to downtown.
According to Singer, the lease of the city’s land for the station “does not require construction of a pedestrian bridge. The City Council has discussed our interest in pursuing transportation grants to assist with the cost of a bridge. It is still something we are exploring.”
Brightline’s company filing says the rail line expects “design, permitting and early works” for the Boca Raton station to begin by the end of this year.
Miami-Dade County is contributing more than $80 million to fund the Aventura and PortMiami stations.
The Orlando extension is expected to begin operations in 2022, the company’s filing said.
Through October 31, the system had carried 784,487 passengers, up 96 percent over the same period last year. Ticket revenue stood at $13.3 million, an increase of 171 percent from the same period in 2018.
The average fare per passenger is now $16.92, up from $12.25 last year.