Fortress Investment Group

Work is under way to extend central Florida’s SunRail commuter rail service 12.2 miles north. (SunRail)

Transit Briefs: SunRail, Amtrak, Brightline, CTA, LACMTA, TriMet

STV is providing engineering design services for the Florida Department of Transportation’s (FDOT) SunRail extension project. Also, Amtrak continues work on station accessibility improvements; Brightline, Florida’s private-sector passenger railroad, will sell up to $1 billion of tax-free debt to cover its extension to Orlando; Chicago Transit Authority (CTA) is working on an equitable transit-oriented development plan for the 95th Street corridor; Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority (LACMTA) is studying three light rail options for the 4.5-mile C Line extension; and Tri-County Metropolitan Transportation District of Oregon (TriMet) has extended its contract with the Amalgamated Transit Union (ATU) 757.

Brightline West Makes Progress

Brightline West, the planned private-sector high-performance passenger railroad, is moving toward its goals of bringing passengers to Las Vegas and giving them a way to get there from Los Angeles. The railroad announced that plans are now set to bring its trains into Rancho Cucamonga, a community on Metrolink’s San Bernardino line, for a connection to Los Angeles Union Station.

Brightline service will resume Nov. 8, following suspension on March 25, 2020, due to the pandemic.

Report: Brightline Eyes $1B Debt Sale

Brightline Holdings is looking to sell $1 billion in additional tax-exempt private activity bonds, Bloomberg L.P. reported on Nov. 4; the move would primarily finance the private-sector passenger rail operator’s new Miami to Orlando, Fla., line.

The proposed map of Brightline West, a high speed passenger rail service connecting Southern California and Las Vegas.

For Brightline West, Another Delay

Brightline West has decided not to seek state-based private activity bonds in 2021 to help finance construction of its high speed rail project connecting Las Vegas and Southern California.

Report: Fortress Wins Approval for Vegas Rail Reimbursement

According to a report on Bloomberg.com, DesertXpress Enterprises, a company backed by Fortress Investment Group’s private-equity funds, received the green light from the California Infrastructure and Economic Development Bank to get reimbursed for the cost of a Las Vegas rail project from a future bond sale, despite the fact that it failed to answer questions from California’s finance department.

Branson buys into Brightline

Florida’s Brightline private higher-speed passenger rail service has a new investor, Virgin Group, headed by British billionaire Sir Richard Branson. Virgin Group will make a minority investment in Brightline, which will be managed and operated by Brightline’s executive team and affiliates of Brightline parent Fortress Investment Group. Brightline will rename itself Virgin Trains USA in November and transition to Virgin Trains USA branding in 2019, “leveraging the Virgin brand and marketing expertise for existing and future developments.”

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