Sir Richard Branson and Patrick Goddard marked the beginning of Brightline’s transition to Virgin Trains USA on April 4 with a ceremony at Virgin MiamiCentral Station that unveiled the passenger rail service’s new branding graphics. Brightline is the express intercity passenger rail service that currently connects Miami, Fort Lauderdale and West Palm Beach, with expected service to Orlando and Tampa, and between Las Vegas and Southern California.
“Virgin MiamiCentral is the hub for all things transportation and mobility,” said Goddard, President of Virgin Trains USA. “With the addition of the Virgin brand, we solidify ourselves as the premier live, work and play environment in downtown Miami. Virgin MiamiCentral is the only destination that connects Miami-Dade County through its various transit systems, and with the combination of Brightline and Tri-Rail, connects the entire southeast region. Mobility continues to be key as our region and population grow—and we are meeting the demand.”
Virgin MiamiCentral connects Metrorail, Metromover, Brightline and soon, Tri-Rail. The station also features Central Fare, Downtown Miami’s food hub that will soon debut, a Citi Bike share, and designated drop-off-and-pick-up zone for Lyft, Brightline’s official rideshare partner.
In November 2018, Brightline announced a partnership and trademark licensing agreement with Britain’s Virgin Group. Beginning what officials describe as “a phased approach to the rebrand to Virgin Trains USA in 2019,” Virgin MiamiCentral is the first location to feature the new Virgin branding, which comes in advance of the opening of Central Fare.
“Virgin has a long history of changing industries for the better and inspiring enduring loyalty through outstanding customer experience,” said. “Today marks the first step in that journey with Virgin Trains USA as we unveiled the beautiful Virgin MiamiCentral station. I’m very excited to see the transformation of our service and the plans for the next phase of the project to Orlando.”
In a related development, just prior to the Miami event, Virgin Trains USA sold $1.75 billion in private activity bonds to help fund expansion from its current West Palm Beach-Miami service to Orlando and, eventually, Tampa. The Bond Buyer reported that the offering may have received up to $4 billion in orders for the bonds. It quoted Brian Wynne, head of public finance at Morgan Stanley, as saying “The feedback that we received was, ‘Wow, this is a whole new level of train transportation.’”
“We received an overwhelming positive response from qualified investors who recognize our early success and the long-term potential for our business,” Virgin Trains USA said in a statement quoted by the Palm Beach Post. “This financing provides Virgin Trains the necessary funds to start construction into Orlando, creating additional economic benefits for Florida.”