The Brightline Experience
For decades the Southeastern Florida community lacked a way to get between the three major cities of West Palm Beach, Ft. Lauderdale, and Miami quickly and efficiently. You really had two options, one, make the long one and a half to two-hour drive, or take Tri-Rail, which is a train going between Palm Beach, Broward, and Dade counties but stops at almost every city on the way down and back which takes hours. This all changed in January of 2018; however when a brand-new state of the art high-speed train was built to connect the three cities. The name of this train is Brightline, and it really is a game-changer in the South Florida area.
Brightline operates in partnership with Virgin Trains group, which brands their Downtown Miami terminal, in time, Brightline is set to transform into Virgin Trains USA. Currently, the line runs between Downton West Palm Beach, Downtown Ft. Lauderdale, and
Downtown Miami. Over a dozen trains run back and forth each way every day. The most amazing part is that from WPB to Ft. Lauderdale, the trip is just 45 minutes and to Miami only one hour and fifteen minutes! I am originally a South Florida native, so when I was back in town and had to get from West Palm to Miami, I knew I had to try them out!
The first nice perk about Brightline is that for new customers when you go on their site www.gobrightline.com and put in your email address, you are given your first train ride for free! For the full trip to Miami from West Palm Beach normally would cost $20 for economy and $35 for their first-class product. As far as service goes from what I could tell, the extra $15 gives you free snacks and drinks on board as well as access to a departures lounge. Both are a great value, though! The free ticket is given in the economy section, so that is where I was seated for the quick one hour and fifteen-minute ride. I was sitting in seat 39 in the third coach train. It was a forward-facing window seat on the right side that had a tray table in front of it. The economy section featured a two-two configuration with some seats forward-facing and some backward-facing, and like my seat, some had a full table in front versus a tray table.
We were scheduled to leave at 6:30 PM, which is right in the heart of rush-hour in South Florida and arrive at 7:45 PM. I arrived about an hour early, and I was amazed by how beautiful the terminal was! It was modern, spacious, and had a very clean feeling. Once arriving, you can go to the check-in counter, which is just like an airline would have, there the very friendly lady printed out my boarding pass. I then went up the escalator to the departures area, and you do have to put your bags through an x-ray machine, but that is the only security you will have to deal with. After that, I had some time to explore the two-track terminal and saw that they have a lovely café to order items from and plenty of brand-new seating options with power ports, and they even have a child play area.
Boarding began 15 minutes prior to departure, once onboard I was amazed by how nice the train was! I found my seat and started to look at all the features it had. Each seat has two USB ports and two standard power outlets! The train also offers free Wi-Fi onboard. The train was quite empty, and we departed right on time at 6:15 PM. A staff member came around about 20 minutes after we left and asked if I would like to purchase any snacks, soft drinks, or alcoholic beverages. I purchased a Diet Coke for $3 and a Kind Bar for $2, both a good value. If you were traveling in business class, this would be free. After a very comfortable 45-minute ride, we made our one and only stop in Downtown Ft. Lauderdale. We were back on our way after a quick few minutes stop to drop some passengers off and pick up some more. Again, the staff member came around, asking if the passengers wanted anything else to eat or drink, and I declined this time.
We arrived precisely on time into Downtown Miami at 7:45 PM, the Virgin station where Brightline arrives and departs is huge and stunning, just like West Palm’s. Overall, I could not have been more impressed by Brightline in every possible way. The stations were stunning, the train was gorgeous, the service was excellent, and the staff was very kind all around. I cannot wait to see Brightline expand into new U.S. markets soon!
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