- All Aboard Florida (AAF), ultimately owned by a New York City hedge fund called Fortress Investment Group, has applied for a government Railroad Rehabilitation & Improvement Financing (RRIF) loan reported to be around $1.6 billion. Two public statements have been made that the projected costs are at now at $2.5 billion. With a Federal cap on the RRIF loan of $35 billion, the long-term expenditures could far exceed the start-up estimates. Historical stats show that they always do. Should AAF default on the loan, the taxpayer will be burdened with whatever the debt amount has grown to. Keep in mind, there are no profitable passenger rail lines in the United States and have not been in almost a century! Collateral is not required by the RRIF loan but AAF has claimed they will put up the trains, tracks and rail corridor. This is a Solyndra on Rails or a large scale Digital Domain scheme where the taxpayer will be left holding a bankrupt railroad.
As Rich Campbell wrote in his Scripps Column on May 4, 2014:
“AAF officials told the editorial board of Scripps Treasure Coast Newspapers the company is putting up trains, tracks and the rail corridor as collateral for the $1.6 billion loan it is seeking from the federal government.
However, if the project goes belly up and AAF defaults on the loan, our region could use the railcars as sunken reefs off our coastline.”
- Homes/businesses located within 200-1,000 feet of the tracks will lose 5-20% of value.* Lower tax revenue in our communities means less money for our communities, we all lose regardless of how close you live to the tracks. *Bill Hall, President Jupiter, Hobe Sound, Tequesta Realtor Assoc.
- Taxpayers will have to pay to maintain upgraded crossings.
- Municipalities will have to have their first responders trained in train accident response and also new equipment. The training will have to be done regularly and the equipment maintained…all more costs.
- Governor Scott has pledged $213.5 million of taxpayers money for a transportation hub in Orlando. “The depot initially would serve All Aboard Florida but also would have space for a potential future spur of the SunRail commuter train scheduled to start operating in May and for one other train, possibly the proposed magnetically levitated system from the airport to the Orange County Convention Center.” – All Aboard Florida train could start construction next year, open in late 2015
-October 3, 2013|By Dan Tracy, Orlando Sentinel