Brightline says it will cut Floridians' travel times by at least 50 percent.
Getting around Florida is about to get a whole lot easier, thanks to Brightline, a train that will finally enable Floridians and tourists alike to travel between Miami and Orlando without a four plus hour-long, traffic-filled drive.
"Its really making your backyard bigger," a Brightline rep told Food & Wine, "you can go see a concert, or see Miami Heat game" at train station-neighboring American Airlines Arena, and get back home to West Palm Beach or Fort Lauderdale on a brand new train that's at least 50 percent faster than driving."
While not open quite yet, Brightline says that pre-season service will launch later this year, and will feature hourly service from morning until "as late as 11:30—or even leater if a Heat game goes into overtime."
For this leg of the route, Brightline took advantage of Florida's century old rail system, upgrading and adding to tracks that are currently used by freight lines. The Orlando connection, on the other hand, will require new tracks entirely, so while Brightline plans to "start working on the Orlando piece of the project the minute we open," it could still be a ways off.
The trains themselves, which will take only 30 minutes between each of the first three stops, are also brand new. Manufactured in the US by Siemens, they're the first trains in the country to be 100% percent ADA complaint, with extra wide aisles huge, touchless bathrooms, and a "gap-filler" that seamlessly connects the train to the platform. Plus, there's wifi, snacks, and storage areas large enough to fit a rack worth of bikes.
With the new level of connection comes new stations, and with them, food. The massive new MiamiCentral station will include a 50,000 square foot food hall, Central Fare anchored by a "signature restaurant" by the Top Chef-topping Voltaggio Brothers called Monger, with local chefs and restaurants renting out more of the space—soon to be previewed at South Beach Food & Wine Festival next year (no relation).
Of course, the biggest question of all won't be answered until closer to the release, but Brightline says currently, express lane tolls from Miami to Fort Lauderdale are $12.50 a car, with gas and parking easily taking it to at least 20, and that train prices "will be below that." With so much potential for faster and cheaper travel, lets hope this new train is the first of many.