Brightline Ridership Number-Crunching and Analysis

Discussion in 'High Speed and Other Non-Amtrak Intercity Rail' started by Anderson, Sep 19, 2018.

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  1. May 21, 2019 #51

    cbustrains

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    cbustrains

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    April 2019 results are out and they don't look pretty:

    "For the month ended April 30, 2019, we carried 71,308 passengers and generated total revenue of approximately $1.8 million. Daily trips by commuters and frequent business travelers continued to grow in the month of April, while leisure-oriented ridership was lower due to lower seasonal event activity. In addition, we ran a reduced train schedule to allow for installation of signaling system upgrades associated with federally-mandated positive train control."

    https://emma.msrb.org/ES1269861-ES993909-ES1395346.pdf

    Does anyone have an idea of how much of a reduced train schedule occurred in April?

    It seems that Virgin Trains USA is consistently releasing the monthly reports around the 18-20th of the following month. They also released a Construction Report stating that construction has commenced on the North Segment (West Palm Beach to Orlando) and will begin revenue service on that line in "approximately three years."
     
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  2. May 21, 2019 #52

    chrsjrcj

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    I honestly can say I’m not surprised. They started running a couple flash sales during April, and I even received a sales pitch for considerable discounts on their commuter passes.

    They ran another flash sale today for up to 55% off in Smart for travel later this week.

    As far as the reduced schedule, I seem to remember a Sunday or two where trains didn’t run all the way to Miami due to PTC installation.

    I suspect May will rebound because of the $5 tickets this past weekend. There were a few sold out trains according to the booking site. Of course, that doesn’t look good from a revenue perspective, but I suppose they’re trying to get butts in the seats to sell them on the product first.
     
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  3. Jun 22, 2019 #53

    Anderson

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    Updated monthly ridership data:
    Code:
          2018    2019   2020
    Jan  17,783  73,568
    Feb  24,098  78,707
    Mar  32,899  91,903
    Apr  ??????  71,308
    May  ??????  85,740
    Jun  ??????
    Jul        
    Aug        
    Sep        
    Oct  60,013
    Nov  80,660
    Dec  98,076
    Code:
    Revenue:
         2018    2019    2020
    Jan          $1.7m
    Feb          $1.9m
    Mar          $2.3m
    Apr          $1.8m
    May          $1.7m
    Jun         
    Jul         
    Aug         
    Sep         
    Oct  $1.0m   
    Nov  $1.5m   
    Dec  $2.2m 
     
    Last edited: Jun 22, 2019
  4. Jul 26, 2019 #54

    Anderson

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    Code:
          2018    2019   2020
    Jan  17,783  73,568
    Feb  24,098  78,707
    Mar  32,899  91,903
    Apr  ??????  71,308
    May  ??????  85,740
    Jun  ??????  80,094
    Jul       
    Aug       
    Sep       
    Oct  60,013
    Nov  80,660
    Dec  98,076
    Revenue:
         2018    2019    2020
    Jan          $1.7m
    Feb          $1.9m
    Mar          $2.3m
    Apr          $1.8m
    May          $1.7m
    Jun          $1.6m
    Jul         
    Aug         
    Sep         
    Oct  $1.0m   
    Nov  $1.5m   
    Dec  $2.2m 
     
  5. Jul 30, 2019 #55

    neroden

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    neroden

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    Sooooo, the thing is, running a system like this is mostly fixed costs. The line as it is, by itself, is never going to break even. Going to Orlando should more-than-double revenue, while much-less-than-doubling costs. The same will happen when they go to Tampa.

    Railroads of the 19th century expanded as fast as they possibly could for this reason. This also explains the merger mania tendency in railroads. Brightline's situation is no exception. Here's hoping they get to Tampa before they run out of funding. Then we can see how viable they are.
     
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  6. Jul 30, 2019 #56

    Trogdor

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    Railroads of the 19th century expanded as fast as they could because they were chasing government grants, an essentially non-existent market, and were defrauding lots of investors. Many of them ultimately went bankrupt.
     
  7. Jul 31, 2019 #57

    Anderson

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    I think the answer is both. You had a lot of reckless expansion early on chasing government grants and charters...but scale advantages drove the various waves of mergers (and are part of why you saw "domino effect" waves of mergers where one tie-up would trigger several more).
     
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  8. Aug 1, 2019 #58

    neroden

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    There weren't any government grants for the Northeastern railroads -- they still all expanded and merged as fast as possible. They also were big on through traffic, connections, and "codesharing". Economies of scale were the only way to survive, and this was understood quite early.
     
  9. Aug 1, 2019 #59

    Anderson

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    No, but there were definitely cases of subsidies and support for charters and the like. At least some mergers were, IIRC, driven by railroads trying to patch together the right to X miles of track for a given project.
     
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  10. Sep 20, 2019 #60

    Anderson

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    Updated for July data:
    Code:
          2018    2019   2020
    Jan  17,783  73,568
    Feb  24,098  78,707
    Mar  32,899  91,903
    Apr  34,615  71,308
    May  56,781  85,740
    Jun  48,619  80,094
    Jul  52,162  83,741  
    Aug      
    Sep      
    Oct  60,013
    Nov  80,660
    Dec  98,076
    NB: April/May 2018 ridership derived from April/May 2019 ridership adjusted for growth. The monthly totals do not quite line up with the YTD numbers for 2018 and I do not see any way to reconcile the discrepancy.
    Code:
    Revenue:
         2018    2019    2020
    Jan          $1.7m
    Feb          $1.9m
    Mar          $2.3m
    Apr          $1.8m
    May          $1.7m
    Jun  $0.8m   $1.6m  
    Jul  $1.0m   $1.7m  
    Aug      
    Sep      
    Oct  $1.0m
    Nov  $1.5m
    Dec  $2.2m 
     
  11. Sep 23, 2019 #61

    Anderson

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    Code:
         2018    2019   2020
    Jan  17,783  73,568
    Feb  24,098  78,707
    Mar  32,899  91,903
    Apr  34,615  71,308
    May  56,781  85,740
    Jun  48,619  80,094
    Jul  52,162  83,741
    Aug  54,574  74,312
    Sep    
    Oct  60,013
    Nov  80,660
    Dec  98,076
    
    Code:
    Revenue:
        2018    2019    2020
    Jan          $1.7m
    Feb          $1.9m
    Mar          $2.3m
    Apr          $1.8m
    May          $1.7m
    Jun  $0.8m   $1.6m
    Jul  $1.0m   $1.7m
    Aug  $0.9m   $1.5m 
    Sep    
    Oct  $1.0m
    Nov  $1.5m
    Dec  $2.2m
    
     
  12. Sep 23, 2019 #62

    neroden

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    Perfectly respectable numbers, but they'll need more economies of scale to break even. Bring on Orlando.
     
  13. Sep 24, 2019 #63

    chrsjrcj

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    I think they may fall just short of hitting 1 million riders this year.

    You can see why they are rushing to add 3 additional stations to the current route.
     
  14. Sep 24, 2019 #64

    Anderson

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    By "three stations"...I know there's Boca Raton, Aventura (I think)...and did they actually announce Fort Lauderdale Airport?

    YTD they're averaging just over 79,900/month (or just over 2650/day if you go that way), putting them "on pace" to finish with about 960-970k (depending on if you go by "share of months elapsed" or "share of days elapsed"). FWIW, I would put the even-money point for them at one million: They probably lost around 5-10k riders over the hurricane (September will probably end up somewhere in the high 60s or low 70s) but based on last year, December is probably good for an extra 20k and November for an extra 5k.

    (It also isn't quite clear how they handle riders on the Polar Express-ish trains in terms of headcount...or, for that matter, whether the month/year ends with 2359 on New Years' Eve or whether those late-night extras get handled as part of the "operational day" of 12/31 vs 01/01.)
     
  15. Sep 24, 2019 #65

    chrsjrcj

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    chrsjrcj

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    PortMiami is the 3rd station. I had to look it up, because I too forgot what the 3rd one even was. :p
     
  16. Sep 24, 2019 #66

    jis

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    Port Miami will only be for cruise related service. Hourly service there seems both impractical and unnecessary.
     
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  17. Sep 24, 2019 #67

    Anderson

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    PortMiami will likely be basically a "charter" service in conjunction with cruises. However, I feel like they're probably one set short of being able to really do that comfortably.
     

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