Firsthand Report on Brightline.

One of our colleagues recently rode the new Brightline service that will eventually run between Miami and Orlando in Florida. For this introductory experience, Rick took advantage of a special fare: $22.50 for the 40-minute trip from Fort Lauderdale to West Palm Beach and return, with a second free round-trip ticket for a companion as a promotion.

After boarding, Rick walked the length of the train and noted a total of five passengers, including himself, in the four-car consist. This for an 8:55 a.m. departure. Not a good sign.

He was impressed with the station in downtown Ft. Lauderdale, however, describing it as “spotless” and “state of the art”, and he liked the interior of the rail cars, noting that the seats were leather, comfortable and they reclined. Also, there was an electrical outlet at each seat.

When the refreshment cart came by, Rick ordered a Pepsi—a small can, normally priced at $2.00, but free on that particular day because Brightline’s uplink was not working.

The train maintained a steady 79/80 miles-per-hour throughout the 40-minute ride and arrived on time at the West Palm Beach station, which is located in the downtown area.

Rick notes that there were a total of 35 passengers on the return trip to Ft. Lauderdale, but still felt that there should have been more people willing to take advantage of the promotional fares.

He did say that “Overall, the trip was impressive.” But he adds, “. . . final ticket prices are expected to be $35 one way and with paid parking in addition compared to $6.00 for [regional transit operator] Tri-Rail with free parking,… how can Brightline compete even with a more luxurious ride and time schedule?”

As always, time will tell.

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