Examining Tax-Exempt Private Activity Bonds for All Aboard Florida’s Brightline Passenger Rail System

Subcommittee on Government Operations
Subcommittee on Government Operations
Hearing Date: April 19, 2018 10:00 am 2154 Rayburn HOB

PURPOSE:
  • To examine the use of $600 million and $1.15 billion in tax-exempt private activity bonds to support the Brightline passenger rail system project in Florida, and the broader implications of this type of financing for future infrastructure projects.
BACKGROUND:
  • Brightline is a Florida-based passenger rail system privately owned and operated by All Aboard Florida (AAF).
  • In 2005, Congress created a $15 billion pool of private activity bonds (PABs) for infrastructure projects. If the project qualifies as an exempt facility, the Department of Transportation (DOT) can exempt the PABs from federal income taxes.
  • In 2017, Brightline obtained $600 million in tax-exempt PABs from DOT to complete Phase I of the project and $1.15 billion in tax-exempt PABs to complete Phase II.
  • Brightline has faced criticism for six fatalities since Phase I trial runs began last year. There are also concerns about the number of highway-rail grade crossings along the Brightline route.

Witnesses and testimonies

Name Title Organization Panel Document
Mr. Grover Burthey Deputy Assistant Secretary for Policy U.S. Department of Transportation Document
Mr. Patrick Goddard President and Chief Operation Officer All Aboard Florida/Brightline Document
Mr. Robert Crandall Former CEO American Airlines Document
Chief Dan Wouters Division Chief Emergency Management Martin County Fire Rescue Document
Mr. Dylan Reingold County Attorney Indian River County Document