Universal & Brightline are at an impasse after the latest round of meetings on April 8, 2021. The standoff comes down to money, as is always the case. At stake are the numerous visitors expected to ride the Brightline train with only 2 stops locally. Disney Springs area, which is scheduled to be built in a future expansion, and the main stop at the Orlando International Airport.
Brightline’s position is “We have explained the ramifications of that in terms of cost [and they are] understanding of that,” said Michael Cegelis, executive vice president of rail infrastructure for Brightline, at the presentation. “There’s a recognition of that. The quantum of it is still being reconciled. We did have a reconciliation meeting yesterday, a lot got accomplished. We owe Universal Studios and their consultant some additional cost information, so we are providing it or may have provided it already.” No other information was forthcoming.
Universal’s response was more direct, “We have talked with Brightline and do not feel they have done the due diligence required for a project of this magnitude,” Universal spokesman Tom Schroder told Orlando Business Journal. “At the moment, there is significant disagreement about what is right for our community — with us and many others believing the International Drive corridor needs to be part of the plan.”
Let’s try and break this down into real-world talk. Universal wants a stop on I-Drive. Especially since the newest theme park Universal Epic is being built right off that road, and they want people. Also, many of the business owners along the I-Drive corridor want a stop. In a previous quote to Orlando Business Journal “With millions of visitors to the I-Drive corridor, over 75,000 employees and over 20,000 residents with over $2 billion of future projects planned to date, a mass transit from [the Orlando airport] to I-Drive is imperative to best service our community and continue the economic growth of our entire region,” Maria Triscari, president and CEO of the International Drive Resort Area Chamber of Commerce.
People = money. Simple as that. No word on if Universal & Brightline can come to terms on a financial deal for the I-Drive stop.
Disney has not made any statements regarding these talks. They are the 500lb gorilla in the room. They wanted a stop, they got a stop. Now can Universal and I-Drive Owners convince Brightline it is in their best interest to make another stop in the area?