Last week, All Aboard Florida announced the new name of its passenger rail service as Brightline and released photo renderings of the candy-colored trains that will be taking passengers between Miami and Orlando, with stops in Fort Lauderdale and West Palm Beach. The company will also be adding 16 round-trip high-speed passenger trains a day that will travel on the tracks owned by sister company the Florida East Coast Railway. Brightline is scheduled to kick things off in 2017.
Plenty of critics have spoken out against the company, particularly over the potential harm it will bring to the environment with its constant blaring horns, as well as the traffic gridlock that is sure to ensue every time a train passes through a busy area.
“They started off with 20 trains a day, and that has gone up to 32 trains from West Palm to Orlando,” Bertha Matics, a spokesperson for anti-All Aboard Florida group Care Florida, tells New Times. “We have a lot of communities that run along those tracks. Can you imagine 32 trains running from 6 a.m. to 9 p.m. all day, blocking our traffic and bringing all that noise into our communities?”
Ali Soule of All Aboard Florida tells New Times that quiet zones will be placed between between Port Miami and 15th Street in Downtown West Palm Beach when the service becomes operational in 2017, which means neither freight trains nor passenger trains will be required to blow their horns when they pass through crossings. As for traffic snarls, All Aboard put out a video explaining that it takes less than 50 seconds in total for a 1,000 passenger train to clear a crossing.
Despite groups like Care Florida and local politicians’ efforts, Brightline is very much a go. And so, it behooves you to at least know what the stations are supposed to look like and what kind of amenities you should expect, should you ever find a hankering for traveling to Disney World but not wanting to drive there.
Here’s everything we’ve gleaned so far on the Fort Lauderdale and West Palm Beach Brightline stations:
Why is Brightline a thing? According to the company, the idea of Brightline is “a private-sector solution to a public need.” Their take is that more and more people are moving to urban core than ever before, and that means the demand for transportation will only grow.
How many stations will there be? Brightline plans to build three South Florida stations, in Miami, Fort Lauderdale, and West Palm Beach.
Where will the Fort Lauderdale station be located? The station will be located at NW Second Avenue between Broward Boulevard and NW Fourth Street, right in the heart of downtown.
How big will it be? All Aboard Florida tells New Times it is planning to develop about 1 million square feet of transit-oriented development and plans to acquire even more property to do so.
Will the station house Brightline trains only? No. The Fort Lauderdale station will also connect to the upcoming Wave Streetcar system, the Broward County Transit System, and the Sun Trolley.
Will there be any special amenities? According to All Aboard Florida, the station will include a modern, multistory lobby and an elevated guest lounge, with free Wi-Fi. The Miami station plans to have retail shops. No word yet if Fort Lauderdale will too.
What about parking? All Aboard Florida says there will be “plenty of parking” at its nearly 600-square-foot station. It insists you won’t need to worry about finding a spot for your car and leaving it there as you travel.
What about the West Palm Beach station? The West Palm station will be located in downtown, between Datura and Evernia streets, and will be “steps away from CityPlace and the Clematis Street district.”
Will the West Palm station also house Tri-Rail? Yes, Tri-Rail will connect there, as well as the bus and trolley. There will also be connections with Amtrak’s West Palm Beach Station.
How big are the trains? The first wave of Brightline trains will be five four-car train sets that will each carry 240 passengers. The company hopes to have a total of ten seven-car train sets, each carrying 356 passengers, by 2018.
What will the passenger cars have? All Aboard Florida says the Brightline trains will offer in-car free Wi-fi and power outlets for each seat. There will also be a food and beverage selection and bike and luggage storage. It will also be fully wheelchair-accessible.
Will they be pet-friendly? Yes.
How long will it take to get from Miami to Fort Lauderdale? All Aboard Florida says it will take less than 30 minutes to get to Fort Lauderdale from Miami. It takes about 45 minutes in a car, give or take traffic.
How long will it take to get from Miami to West Palm Beach? Under 60 minutes, according to All Aboard Florida.
How long will it take to get to Orlando? The trains travel at 125 mph. A trip from Miami to Orlando would take about three hours.
How much will this cost me? Travelers will have the option to book Smart or Select seating, All Aboard Florida says. The company has yet to announce an official price tier, but back in May, the South Florida Business Journal reported that prices will range between $11 for a one-way ride between Miami and Fort Lauderdale to $143 for a business-class seat.
Chris Joseph, Broward new Times