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Virgin Trains to Boca: Let us build an express stop for you

New name for Brightline’s transportation hub

Richard Branson unveiled the first step milestone of "Virgin Trains USA" at the Virgin MiamiCentral station in downtown Miami, Florida, on April 4, 2019.
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Richard Branson unveiled the first step milestone of "Virgin Trains USA" at the Virgin MiamiCentral station in downtown Miami, Florida, on April 4, 2019.

The fastest train in the south could soon be coming to Boca.

On Monday, Virgin Trains and the Boca Raton city commission will hold a workshop exploring the possibility of building a station in downtown Boca Raton. It would mark the express train service’s second stop in Palm Beach County and its fourth stop overall.

The workshop follows a letter from Virgin delivered Friday to Boca Mayor Scott Singer expressing its interest in building the new stop.

“We would like to work with the City of Boca Raton to finalize an agreement in which we would deliver train service to Boca Raton in the immediate future,” Virgin Trains USA president Patrick Goddard wrote.

The Miami Herald previously reported that Boca officials had already been meeting with Virgin in the first half of the year. Virgin has said it may announce up to three new stops before the end of the year. The city of Hollywood has also confirmed it had begun discussions with Virgin.

In the Friday letter, Virgin says that in exchange for the station, it is requesting Boca contribute the prospective plots of land on which the station, and a new parking garage, would sit: One at Northwest 1st Ave and Northwest 4th Street, the other at Northwest Boca Raton Blvd and Northwest 4th Street. Virgin also is asking the city to fund construction of the new garage; a new pedestrian bridge; shuttle service from the station to various locations, and to re-zone the site as necessary. It is requesting expedited permit processing/review for the project.

Meanwhile, Virgin says it would work with the city to relocate an existing community garden, and study the possibility of providing the city with community meeting space.

A Virgin representative declined to comment.

No date is set on when service will begin.

In an interview, Singer said it his understanding that Virgin’s expenditures “would be the most substantial part by far” of any new development.

While no study has been done showing how many potential Boca riders would use the train, Singer said he has “many anecdotes” from residents who would want to take the train to West Palm Beach, Fort Lauderdale and downtown Miami — in the latter case, especially for Miami Heat games.

Singer said he first approached Virgin earlier this year.

“I thought it was a topic worth discussing to enhance mobility for our residents and cut down on traffic,” he said.

Monday’s workshop will be open to the public and live-streamed online at https://www.myboca.us/

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