Today’s question submitted via email - Hi Brian, I live in East Boca and have an office where I can see the trains going by from the window by Yamato, and have seen Brightline trains going by every day for a while now. It seems like they are always empty. Wonder if this silly service is worth all the aggravation it causes with RR crossings and the extra traffic. I also noticed more gates malfunctioning and creating backups on the roads than in the past.
Bottom Line: Earlier this week the Miami Herald wrote a related story. Brightline has had many detractors and the perception of near empty trains has led to additional questions about the proposed expansion to Orlando and its overall viability. That’s especially relevant this week because the Florida Development Finance Corp. will decide tomorrow (Friday) whether to extend an additional $950 million in bonds to Brightline, bringing the total to just under $3 billion.
Now, is anyone really riding Brightline? The 2018 passenger count totaled 579,000. In January 74,000 passengers used the service while in February that number went up to 79,000 passengers. Should these numbers hold we would be on pace for 918,000 passengers this year. There’s a case that could be made either way. On one hand,adaptation does appear to still be growing. On the other hand, by the end of year two, Brightline still isn't pacing the 1 million passenger count they estimated they would reach in the first year.
As for the traffic concerns and deaths on the tracks here’s additional food for thought. Using US Highway Safety Traffic info, 76% of cars on the road only contain one person. That means that in 2019 we would have nearly 698,000 fewer car trips on the roads in South Florida or 1,911 fewer cars on the roads of SFL per day to be more precise. It’s important to keep that in mind. It’s a given that 1,900+ additional cars on the road daily will bring additional traffic and accidents.
It seems like I’m in the minority position in talk radio circles, but I’ve been rooting for its success because of South Florida’s existing traffic problems that are only getting worse by the day as our population grows.
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