Brightline Ridership Number-Crunching and Analysis

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neroden

Conductor
Joined
Feb 23, 2014
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How is opex looking? That might allow us to project how many riders they need for operating breakeven at different route lengths (now Orlando, Disney, Tampa). There is no chance of breakeven at this route length but I am wondering whether Orlando is a possibility or whether we have to wait for Disney or Tampa...

Hmm. Last news is from Sept $27 million per quarter. $5.525 million in revenue per quarter last year. So revenue needs to be multiplied by 6 (costs will go up some as well, but I find it hard to estimate the economies of scale... Let's suppose they don't go up much). I do not see much coming from organic shorthaul ridership growth, maybe a doubling max. Suppose that Orlando passengers will pay twice what the current passengers pay and that there will be twice as many of them... That would be just barely enough to break even and I am probably being too optimistic. They still have to cover interest on capex. It looks like they will not be profitable before Disney station opens, and it will be pretty tight even then. They should be pretty stable if they make it to Tampa though.
 
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Joined
Jan 16, 2020
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14
For what it's worth their projecting 3 million passengers in the southern segment and 3.5 million from Orlando to the southern segment in 2023. The southern segment estimate does seem optimistic with growth slowing somewhat.

What is kind of crazy to me is that their biggest expense category on that quarterly statement is "Corporate, general and administrative" which sounds like a generic overhead category but is almost a third of there total operating expense for the quarter.
 

Anderson

Conductor
Joined
Nov 16, 2010
Messages
9,567
How is opex looking? That might allow us to project how many riders they need for operating breakeven at different route lengths (now Orlando, Disney, Tampa). There is no chance of breakeven at this route length but I am wondering whether Orlando is a possibility or whether we have to wait for Disney or Tampa...

Hmm. Last news is from Sept $27 million per quarter. $5.525 million in revenue per quarter last year. So revenue needs to be multiplied by 6 (costs will go up some as well, but I find it hard to estimate the economies of scale... Let's suppose they don't go up much). I do not see much coming from organic shorthaul ridership growth, maybe a doubling max. Suppose that Orlando passengers will pay twice what the current passengers pay and that there will be twice as many of them... That would be just barely enough to break even and I am probably being too optimistic. They still have to cover interest on capex. It looks like they will not be profitable before Disney station opens, and it will be pretty tight even then. They should be pretty stable if they make it to Tampa though.
Those estimates did not, I don't think, include Boca or Aventura's stations (and the status of Cocoa and the other stations is also unclear). The early official documentation only indicated four stations, but we're probably looking at no less than nine (Miami, Aventura, Fort Lauderdale, Boca Raton, West Palm Beach, Stuart/Fort Pierce, Cocoa, Orlando, plus PortMiami "off to the side"). Disney probably brings that to eleven (the Sunrail interchange station gets added there). And I've noted that I expect we may see one or two more stations (I keep expecting Fort Lauderdale-Airport to get one at some point).

My best guess, at this point, is that there's another half-million riders to shake out of the existing stations and another million once you add in Boca and Aventura. Figuring a "rebound" in fares of 10% or so, that would probably put revenue at $13m.

Also, don't forget two other short-term revenue items:
(1) Tri-Rail access to MiamiCentral. This might not be a "cash cow" but it isn't likely to be $0, either. A few million dollars per year seems probable, but that's a few million dollars that won't have to come out of pax revenues.
(2) Revenue from station development. My best guess is that this will track a bit more aggressively than ticket sales (partly due to Tri-Rail access, partly due to generic ramping-up).

Longer-term, I suspect the impact of some version of the Coastal Link project has room to knock a massive hole in the operating situation here, even if it siphons off ridership.
 

neroden

Conductor
Joined
Feb 23, 2014
Messages
7,778
What is kind of crazy to me is that their biggest expense category on that quarterly statement is "Corporate, general and administrative" which sounds like a generic overhead category but is almost a third of there total operating expense for the quarter.
It's an economies of scale business. The regulatory paperwork in operating a railroad alone is very large. This actually does not surprise me. This is why they have to get bigger in order to break even -- those costs should stay constant even as trains go to Tampa and Jacksonville.
 

west point

Conductor
Joined
Jun 9, 2015
Messages
2,141
It's an economies of scale business. The regulatory paperwork in operating a railroad alone is very large. This actually does not surprise me. This is why they have to get bigger in order to break even -- those costs should stay constant even as trains go to Tampa and Jacksonville.
These are actually the same arguments that cause many to have heartburn about the way Amtrak allocates its LD and other costs.
 

Anderson

Conductor
Joined
Nov 16, 2010
Messages
9,567
It's an economies of scale business. The regulatory paperwork in operating a railroad alone is very large. This actually does not surprise me. This is why they have to get bigger in order to break even -- those costs should stay constant even as trains go to Tampa and Jacksonville.
There are costs that remain roughly fixed (overhead, maintenance facilities, etc.). There are costs that are fixed per set, so equipment utilization is key. And there are per-mile (fuel) or per-hour (crew) costs

Jacksonville is actually somewhat problematic compared to the others unless you do a crew change. Presuming that the end-to-end runtime gets down into the 5-hour ballpark (which feels about right; the distance on I-95 is just under 350 miles but I don't know what the exact endpoints are), there's a risk you're going to have some trains "only" making the run one way. Now, you can do some other stuff with those trains (have them do a WPB-MIA run as well) but the crews...it's a sticky proposal to get the operating crew back home under hours of service. A division break at Cocoa for the Jacksonville-bound trains would work around this, to be fair.
 

chrsjrcj

OBS Chief
Joined
Mar 24, 2011
Messages
813
I can't help but think that Brightline is in a pretty precarious financial position with the virus. Normally the 5:15/5:50 PM departures from Miami are pretty close to full. It looks like they've cancelled the 5:15 PM train for the time being, and the 5:50 PM is about 35% full (based off the seating chart on their website).
 
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