From what I've read the streetcar operations in the Twin Cities never made a profit off passenger fares. The companies were making money off real estate along streetcar routes. In a way they were doing transit oriented development before the term was used.Just so we're on the same page, transit (at least around here) used to be privately owned and operated, thought they made liberal use of the public ROW. I'm not an expert, but operations were funded by fares, while expansion was funded primarily by speculative real estate investment. At some point, the entire system fell apart, or some would say it was systematically dismantled.
The cities wanted cheap fares, but at the same time forced the streetcar companies to pay for their own maintenance and operations. TCRT wasn't being helped financially by any city despite not making any money.
When it comes to something like Brightline in Florida I'm okay with it because most of the ROW is also used by freight trains, and if it doesn't work out as a private operation it looks pretty easy for the state or municipalities to take over. Elon's O'Hare Express has a lot of promises that I'm skeptical can be met, and there are numerous other options that are proven to work.