Intercity

Virgin Trains USA, Morgan Stanley: $1.75B in PABs

Virgin Trains USA (formerly Brightline) has closed on $1.75 billion in private activity bonds (PABs) underwritten by Morgan Stanley and purchased by 67 different investors to help fund the company’s expansion from West Palm Beach, on the Florida East Coast Railway, to Orlando. Virgin described the closing as “one of the largest PAB transactions to date.”

Repeat actions don’t produce different outcomes

Amtrak CEO Richard Anderson and his chief deputy, Stephen Gardner, have proposed eliminating the company’s interregional trains in favor of a scattering of discontiguous, higher frequency short corridors connecting nearby city pairs. But this reflects a deep misapprehension of the performance of the company’s three primary business groups, and a surprising emphasis on minimizing the returns on investment of the company’s capital resources.

Part 2 of 6: Politicians Wrangle as Costs Climb

The original Access to the Region’s Core (ARC) Project started with a semblance of consensus but ended its 15-year life in controversy. Its replacement, Gateway, was proposed in February 2011, and has been surrounded by controversy for the entire eight years of its life, so far. The politicians and planners who are pushing the program consider it inevitable, just as they considered the now-defunct ARC Project inevitable almost until the day it was killed in 2010.

PART 1 OF 6: An ARC With No Covenant

Anyone connected with the series of passenger rail projects in the New York/New Jersey Metropolitan Area known collectively as Gateway will claim that their eventual completion is inevitable, much like former California Gov. Jerry Brown claimed that completion of the virtually defunct California High-Speed Rail Project was inevitable, or how anti-rail activists like Randal O’Toole claim that the impending demise of passenger trains and rail transit is inevitable. Yet, circumstances have changed in recent years, and new discoveries have led some advocates in the region to doubt the cost-effectiveness, and even the feasibility, of building Gateway as currently proposed.