Richard Branson, center, raises his glass by making a toast with city and county officials, including Miami-Dade Commissioner Rebeca Sosa, left, and Brightline President, Patrick Goddard, right, before revealing the new name for the center of transport of downtown Miami, "Virgin MiamiCentral", in downtown Miami, Florida, on April 4, 2019.
Virgin Trains USA has received approval to raise the funds it needs to build a 170-mile route connecting West Palm Beach to Orlando.
The Florida Development Finance Corp. on Friday approved the issuance of up to $ 950 million in new private activity bonds for the privately owned South Florida express train line, formerly known as Brightline, to pay for phase two of its plan of expansion to Orlando.
The service to Central Florida is expected to begin in 2023.
"We appreciate the work of the board and staff of FDFC," Virgin spokesman Ben Porritt said in a statement. "Virgin Trains will be a transformative project that will help Florida stay economically competitive while generating thousands of jobs and a tremendous economic impact for the state. "We have seen incredible support for this project and hope it will bring a necessary public benefit to the millions of Florida residents and visitors."
The bonuses allow developers to borrow at a more favorable rate. Only the bondholders, not the taxpayers, would be affected if the company failed to comply.
Less than a year after its launch in Miami as Brightline, the company has waived plans for an initial public offering (IPO), reported that user levels are still lower than projected and continues to operate at a loss.
On Thursday, it officially began its rebranding as Virgin Trains with an appearance by Virgin founder, Sir Richard Branson.
Virgin is currently in talks with Disney about a station that would be on the theme park property and that would serve airport passengers and visitors from South Florida. The railroad company will also add its own station to an intermodal site of $ 682 million that was recently completed at the Orlando International Airport.
Brightline has plans to bring its service to Jacksonville and Tampa and to add stops at PortMiami and the Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport.