South Florida high-speed rail Brightline to resume service in November, with upgrades
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Florida’s Brightline high-speed train will restart operations from Miami to Fort Lauderdale and West Palm Beach in November, more than a year after the pandemic forced it to shut down.
The company announced its comeback will feature several upgrades to its service, including a new digital platform to make its app and website more user-friendly. The company is also improving accessibility to train stations by providing door-to-door service with its own fleet of vehicles. This includes luxury cars, shared-ride shuttles and golf carts as well as micro-mobility options (think electric bikes and electric scooters). Brightline officials say these expanding offerings are about eliminating the gaps “created by the first and last miles,” as well as reducing the company’s impact on the environment.
In a statement on its website, Brightline President Patrick Goddard said, “Over the last few months, we’ve made upgrades to our guest experience and made significant strides in construction. Our goal remains the same, to take cars off the road while offering the most convenient way to travel in South Florida and a guest-first experience.”
According to the Miami Herald, ticket prices to ride Brightline are expected to remain about the same as they were before the pandemic. Before service shut down, a one-way pass from Miami to Fort Lauderdale cost $15.
The company says an exact date for the resumption of service will be announced in the next few weeks. The Federal Railroad Administration must still grant certification to Brightline’s new positive train control safety system before service can resume.
When the trains are rolling again, passengers can expect enhanced safety measures.
Masks will be required aboard trains and in stations at all times, for both passengers and Brightline workers. Employees will also be required to be fully vaccinated. The ride experience will feature prepackaged food offerings, touchless bathroom toilets and sinks, cashless payment options and electronic tickets. The private four-person tables will have plexiglass dividers to provide increased distancing.
Brightline also pointed out that its trains will have a needlepoint bipolar ionization ozone-free system to neutralize pathogens, viruses and bacteria.
Related: All aboard trains to Orlando
The company, which laid off most of its workforce last year, says it intends to hire back around 200 employees as it resumes service. Salaries for those jobs will begin at $18 per hour plus benefits. Some of those workers will be assigned to work at two key stations, Aventura and Boca Raton, that are either under construction or close to breaking ground.
Perhaps the most important part of Brightline’s expansion plans is its Orlando station at Orlando International Airport (MCO). Construction there is past the halfway point and is on schedule to be finished by the end of 2022. Once that station is completed, it will link Central Florida to South Florida.
Brightline sees Orlando as a lucrative opportunity due to the millions who visit all the area attractions annually. The company’s goal is to offer families the ability to skip driving to Disney World or Universal Orlando and just hop on the train. It also hopes to prove an appealing option for overseas visitors who would prefer not to rent a car while visiting the theme park capital of the world.
Featured photo by Jeffrey Greenberg/Universal Images Group via Getty Images.
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