VIDEO: All aboard Brightline! (No, not you, Tampa Bay)
Renderings were unveiled Monday of the privately owned and operated passenger rail service between Miami and Orlando that's set to debut in mid-2017.
The company building it, All Aboard Florida, also unveiled the name: Brightline.
So glory in all the possibilities express rail (it's not high-speed rail) will bring to Central and South Florida. The Miami New Times has a pretty good summary of the project here. The Sun-Sentinel's review ("bold look!") is here.
But for Tampa Bay, the entire venture is insult to injury. After killing a high speed rail route between Tampa and Orlando that had funding and a shovel-ready route, Gov. Rick Scott pledged $200 million toward a private venture All Aboard Florida, which had ties to his chief of staff. Since his stated reason for rejecting the Tampa/Orlando project in 2011 was that it cost state taxpayers too much, Scott's been defensive and misleading about the public costs associated with All Aboard Florida. He incorrectly called it a 100 percent private venture with "no state money involved", which PolitiFact rated "mostly false" because he overlooked the $214 million the state was dedicating to an Orlando intermodal facility that will be leased to the project, not to mention another $44 million in state money All Aboard mentioned in bond documents that would be used to connect the trains to Tri-Rail. (Although that $44 million was reported by the Naples Daily News, Tri-Rail officials say it's only $20 million. "Connecting Tri Rail downtown at Miami Central station is critical. We have requested $20 million from the state to build the rail infrastructure to allow us to share tracks, and most importantly - to implement Positive Train Control for passenger safety," Jack Stephens, Executive Director of South Florida Regional Transportation Agency/SFRTA, said in an email to Bay Buzz.) Then, in August, the Florida Development Finance Commission approved a $1.75 billion bond issue at a low interest and tax-exempt rate. So except for that, the project is pretty much private.
So as Brightline trains start connecting Miami, Fort Lauderdale, West Palm Beach and Orlando along a 235-mile route in two years (and then maybe Jacksonville!) Tampa Bay will be still filling the void left in the aftermath of Scott's decisions.
Check out the video of the project that won't be happening in Tampa Bay: