All Aboard Florida sparks criticism from lawmakers
U.S. Rep. Patrick Murphy describes service as 'financially risky'
MIAMI – Not everyone is on board with All Aboard Florida. The proposed passenger rail service connecting Miami to Orlando is attracting critics from both political parties.
U.S. Reps. Patrick Murphy, D-Fla., and Bill Posey, R-Fla., have asked the Government Accountability Office to examine "potential risk and cost to taxpayers."
In Murphy's letter to the comptroller general of the U.S., he describes the service as a "financially risky and potentially disruptive project."
Politicians have also expressed concern about All Aboard Florida's request for a federal loan through the Railroad Rehabilitation and Improvement Financing Program.
"Although initially sold as a private project, AAF is actually seeking more than a billion dollars in taxpayer-backed loans from the Federal Railroad Administration," said Murphy in his letter to the comptroller general.
Local 10 News obtained a copy of that loan application. In it All Aboard Florida promises the project will generate jobs and spur economic development near its proposed stations in Miami, Fort Lauderdale and West Palm Beach.
It also promises to increase ridership to other local transit systems like the Metrorail, and argues it is cost-efficient since it will run on tracks they already own.
In the application, the company states, "AAF believes that the attractive combination of low construction cost due to the use of an existing rail corridor with strong ridership as a result of high population density and congestion make AAF one of the most feasible and economically viable new passenger rail projects in the United States."
It also states, "The project proposed by AAF shall provide a highly viable intercity passenger rail service to serve as a much-needed solution to mobility problems faced by residents and visitors to Southeast Florida, who require convenient, fast, dependable transportation within this fast-growing region. Further, AAF proposes to do so through the development of a privately owned, operated and maintained intercity passenger rail service that will provide a transformational effect on the State of Florida and will prove a model for rail development throughout the nation."
The FRA said it has yet to make a decision on All Aboard Florida's loan request. In the meantime, the Government Accountability Office tells Local 10 News the request from Murphy and Posey are under review.
All Aboard Florida released a statement saying, "AAF is a private investment, which will not receive any state grant or federal money. All Aboard Florida has applied for a Railroad Rehabilitation and Improvement Financing Loan. If approved, the RRIF loan requested would be backed by equity investment and collateral provided by All Aboard Florida to secure the loan, which must be repaid with interest."
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