Robert Silk
Robert Silk

All Aboard Florida, the private rail service that expects to begin transporting passengers between Miami, Fort Lauderdale, West Palm Beach and Orlando in 2017, will provide new connectivity in the Florida travel market.

So says the All Aboard Florida Ridership and Revenue Study, which was released in May. The study was prepared for All Aboard Florida by the Louis Berger Group consulting company. “By connecting key resort and business activity centers in Orlando and southeast Florida, [All Aboard Florida] offers the opportunity for partnerships with resorts and travel arrangers to include [All Aboard Florida] tickets in travel arrangements or to market [All Aboard Florida] service to expand the travel market overall,” the report says.

The report singles out the South American market, saying that discounted travel packages involving Orlando-area resorts and cruise ports could alone bring 220,000 riders to All Aboard Florida by 2019. Agents will also be able to sell joint air/rail ticket packages, the report says.

The express train line, which is projected to cost more than $3 billion to construct, will be the first of its kind in Florida. Extending from downtown Miami to Orlando Airport, it will span 235 miles. Trains will make the three-hour journey 16 times per day in each direction. Much of the route will travel along the existing Florida East Coast Railway corridor, which was built by Henry Flagler in the 1880s, but All Aboard Florida will lay new track between Cocoa Beach and Orlando. Once complete, the line will be the first private, intercity passenger rail launched in the U.S. since 1956.

Construction has begun on railway improvements on the southern part of the route, and work is also underway on the Miami, Fort Lauderdale and West Palm Beach train stations. In addition, on July 8 All Aboard Florida announced that Georgia-based Archer Western Construction Manager will build its rail infrastructure at Orlando Airport. The rail company says that trains will begin running between Miami and West Palm Beach in early 2017 and between West Palm Beach and Orlando late that year.

All Aboard Florida's Orlando station will be part of the airport's South Intermodal Center, where disembarking passengers can rent a car or connect to the commuter SunRail line. The stations in South Florida will also allow for easy connections to local transits options, including commuter rail lines.

All Aboard Florida's release of its Ridership and Revenue Study came as the company is embroiled in a lawsuit brought by the counties of Indian River and Martin, which are located on Florida's central east coast. Both counties will be bypassed by the rail service.

The study projects that 2.8 million people will ride the line in 2020 for trips within South Florida. In addition, 2.5 million people will use the line for the longer trips between Orlando and the three South Florida stops.

Ridership will be much lower during the start-up years, the Berger Group projects, but it expects 2020 to be the first year in which, “stabilized ridership is achieved.” Ticket prices that year would average $90 for trips between Orlando and South Florida and $23 for trips within South Florida, according to revenue projections in the report.

Bob Poole, a transportation analyst with the libertarian think tank the Reason Foundation, said the methodology used by the Berger Group appears sound.

“My assessment is that [All Aboard Florida] has a plausible business plan and has a decent chance of success in this venture,” he wrote in an email to Travel Weekly.

Julie Edwards, All Aboard Florida’s chief marketing officer, said the study confirms that there is pent-up demand, both from Florida residents and international visitors.

“We’re excited about providing a travel option that makes traveling in the state of Florida easier, more accessible and more enjoyable,” she said.

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