WFSU Radio: Funding For Private Railway Service Called Into Question
Posted on July 16, 2014
By Matthew Stolpe
All Aboard Florida is a privately-funded, high-speed railway projected to stretch from Orlando to Miami.
The Florida Department of Transportation is denying claims that public funds are being used to support a private commuter rail development business.
In a letter to All Aboard Florida, state Department of Transportation Secretary Ananth Prasad says the railway will not receive any state funding. All Aboard Florida is a privately-funded, high-speed railway projected to stretch from Orlando to Miami.
All Aboard Florida is planning a base in Miami. But the state wants to use the All Aboard terminal for a separately-run commuter rail project. A recent Naples Daily News article reported the company’s internal documents stated it could request $44 million in state grants. All Aboard Florida President Don Robinson says that number is a breakdown for how much it would cost the state’s South Florida Regional Transportation Authority, or SFRTA, to add a commuter rail line to All Aboard Florida’s Miami station.
“We already have the station in Miami, we already have the design for All Aboard Florida,” Robinson says. “This money was to enlarge the station and enlarge the track so that a [state-backed] commuter rail could operate in our station as well as us.”
Robinson says it’s the SFRTA’s responsibility to secure the funds.
Gov. Rick Scott has previously been accused of using state funds to benefit the railway. The state budget includes over $200 million to fund a new terminal at Orlando International Airport. The terminal will include a train station that All Aboard Florida will connect with.
Scott, however, says the new terminal will accommodate Florida’s growing tourism industry.
“If you remember, this state is growing. We’re going to have possibly 100 million tourists this year. So Florida is growing. That airport is expanding. My understanding is that they are going to connect with the airport, but this is a 100% private venture,” Scott says.
Service for All Aboard Florida is scheduled to begin in 2016 with a smaller railway running from Miami to West Palm Beach.