Florida High Speed Rail to Remain Privately Funded
"The U.S. Department of Transportation has provisionally approved $1.75 billion in private activity bonds for All Aboard Florida, an unprecedented amount and a move that reduces a major financial obstacle for the express passenger rail line," writes Kimberly Miller, Palm Beach Post staff writer. Unlike a federal loan, these bonds place all liability on the bond issuer, Coral Gables-based Florida East Coast Industries, owner of the new rail line.
A final approval for the bonds is conditional on All Aboard Florida completing an environmental review process which closed for public comment earlier this month. If granted, it would be the largest amount of private activity bonds awarded any single entity.
The bonds are needed in part to pay off "$405 million in private high-risk bonds" used for current construction between Miami and West Palm Beach, writes Miller. "Trains between Miami and West Palm Beach are expected to be running in late 2016, with the second phase [from West Palm Beach to Orlando Airport] opening in early 2017."
While All Aboard Florida trains are frequently described as "high-speed," including by Planetizen, the trains will be diesel-powered, running at a maximum speed of 125 mph, depending on the section.
Hat tip to Heather Caygle of POLITICO Morning Transportation.