FL: All Aboard Florida Ad Blitz Aims to Counter Critics

July 31--All Aboard Florida is airing a television commercial in communities along its planned passenger rail route and is asking residents to write endorsement letters to local leaders in an effort to build support for the express train service.

Company officials say the media push is part of their ongoing commitment to educate the public.

The 30-second commercial began airing on television stations last week, and came after a group opposed to the train service released its own television advertisement criticizing the project.

On Wednesday, the company sent out a mass email asking recipients to visit a website that allows supports to submit endorsement letters to local leaders.

"As the project progresses, it is important for governmental entities and elected officials to hear your supportive voice," the email said.

Opponents of the train service say the advertising blitz is a sign their efforts to derail the project are working.

"They would not be spending all of this money on all these ad campaigns if it was a done deal," said K.C. Traylor, founder of the opposition group, Florida NOT All Aboard. "It gives us more confidence then ever that what we are doing is working, and that public outcry can change the course of the project."

In statement sent to The Palm Beach Post on Thursday, All Aboard Florida said it created the commercial to highlight the important aspects and benefits of the rail service.

"We have found that when people gain understanding of what this project will offer residents and tourists alike, they are widely supportive of All Aboard Florida," Julie Edwards, the company's chief marketing officer, said in the statement.

The commercial draws on the history of Henry Flagler's railway, vowing to connect Miami and Orlando without "taxpayer grants or giveaways." The commercial starts with black and white images of antique-looking trains and then cuts to a rendering of one of All Aboard Florida's contemporary train stations.

"For the past 100 years Henry Flagler's train has moved Florida, and now Flagler's company is doing it again with express passenger rail connecting Orlando and Miami," the commercial starts.

The television ad continues with footage of grandparents riding a more modern-looking train with their grandchildren, downtown skylines and construction crews.

"Millions of cars will be taken off our congested roadways, preserving our environment creating tens of thousands of jobs on the safest railroad in America," the commercial says. "Flagler dreamed big, and we are just getting started."

The commercial has been viewed more than 640 times since it was posted on YouTube on July 22.

Copyright 2014 - The Palm Beach Post, Fla.

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