The Brightline rail service is considering one or more stops in the Treasure Coast, a region whose politicians have sought to stop the train from speeding through their turf en route to Orlando.
Brightline has asked city managers in Stuart, Fort Pierce, Vero Beach and Sebastian to suggest possible locations for train stations, said Russell Roberts, Brightline’s vice president of government affairs.
“Brightline has been engaged in a comprehensive evaluation of our service offerings and is now exploring the feasibility of a Treasure Coast station or stations that will complement our business model and provide a much desired transportation option between Central and South Florida,” Roberts wrote Monday in a letter to Michael Busha, head of the Treasure Coast Regional Planning Council.
Roberts said Brightline wants cities interested in stations to respond within 60 days. Brightline said it will consider such factors as population density and pedestrian traffic in mornings and evenings. The rail service said any station must accommodate a platform of at least 1,000 feet along the Florida East Coast tracks.
Brightline’s move comes after years of opposition from officials in Martin and Indian River counties. Both are plaintiffs in a federal lawsuit seeking to block $1.15 billion in private activity bonds that Brightline is seeking to sell to pay for its expansion to Orlando. And U.S. Rep. Brian Mast, R-Palm City, has been a critic of the rail line.
Brightline began service between West Palm Beach and Miami this year. It hopes to extend service to Orlando, and possibly Tampa, in 2021.
Brightline told bond investors last year that in 2020, it expects to ferry 2.9 million passengers and collect $96 million in fares.
All Aboard Florida, which operates Brightline, is owned by an affiliate of Fortress Investment Group LLC, a global investment management firm. Fortress Investment Group LLC is contracted to manage and advise New Media Investments Inc., which owns GateHouse Media, the parent company of The Palm Beach Post.