Brightline goes to Miami!
Traffic in South Florida is awful. Living in Palm Beach County gives us the opportunity to be on the outskirts of the horrible traffic, while being within driving distance of so many different cities and attractions. We are about an hour to Ft. Lauderdale Airport, Hollywood and the Broward County Beaches. We’re 90 minutes to our favorite hotel in South Beach. Two hours from Naples and 2 ½ hours to Orlando. Ten minutes from Worth Avenue, one of the Worlds Most Expensive streets. Last year, #GoBrightline started running between West Palm Beach and Las Olas in Fort Lauderdale. We’ve enjoyed hopping on the train and going down there for the day, or to enjoy dinner and even go to the convention center. It’s so nice not having to deal with traffic, especially after enjoying a night out. Yesterday, Brightline began running to Miami and we were lucky enough to get one of the last tickets available for their inaugural ride.
Our train left the station in West Palm at 5pm, after a stop in Ft. Lauderdale, we arrived in Miami at 6:20pm. Along the way, you get to see a side of road that you don’t typically see, and it’s not a pretty sight. Litter is scattered everywhere, it’s like people use the side of the railroad tracks as a dumping ground. Sadly, there is a very large homeless population anywhere you see an area that is under cover, mostly highway overpasses. I wonder if the rail system has considered those homeless people as an untapped resource who can keep the rails free of debris and then they might no longer be homeless!
The stations and the trains are very clean, everyone is very friends and it’s quite comfortable. I haven’t yet figured out the seating system and this trip we ended up sitting backwards for both trips! I requested forward facing seats, but that didn’t happen, so I’ll need to figure out what I did wrong. From what I can see, the first half of the train car, the lower number seats face North and the higher number seats (except those four-somes at table) face South. So, the next time we hop on the train, I’ll choose the seats using that analogy and hopefully we’ll ride facing the direction we’re going. Fortunately, neither of us have any problems riding backwards, in fact Richard fell asleep on the way home.
They offer 2 levels of tickets. Smart and Select. The seats for Select are ever so slightly bigger than Smart seats, and are equally as comfortable. With the Select service you get one beverage included in your ticket price, including an alcohol beverage, with Smart Service, beverages and snacks are available for a fee. Select Service between West Palm Beach and Ft. Lauderdale runs $15 each way and Smart Service is $10. Select Service from West Palm Beach to Miami is $25 each way or Smart Service for $15.
Every single seat has an electrical outlet as well as a USB for your phone, laptops or other electronic devices. They have snacks which mainly consist of chips or cookies and they serve a variety of beverages, including hot or iced coffee and tea, juices, soda and alcohol.
There’s room to bring your bicycles, your luggage and other cargo, but be sure to plan ahead as space is limited. Brightline recently partnered with Lyft in Miami to make it more convenient to get to and from the station. We took advantage of a special $5 discount using the #Brightline305 code. The cost for Lyft was $9 to get to Brickell for dinner, a 10 minute ride. Well worth it. Our Lyft driver leaving the station seemed to know where he was going and spoke broken English, but enough for us to understand one another. The driver who picked us up to return to the station spoke only enough English to say “I don’t speak English well” and he had no clue where he was going. In fact, he dropped us off on the very outskirts of the station and we had to walk several blocks to the entrance. Little did we know that if he had turned where the GPS told him to turn and he decided not to, it was only a few hundred feet to the station. Unfortunately, this is not an area where you want to be walking alone at night.
We hopped on the 5pm train to go South, enjoyed dinner at one of our favorite Miami restaurants and took the 9:10pm train home. Taking the train, as opposed to driving in traffic, rain, bad drivers, 90 minutes minimum each way …. We would never just pop on down for dinner. While riding the train, we could talk, we could shop online for a new pair of Flip Flops for Richard, we could see what concerts are coming up and it was an extension of our weekly date night.
Currently you can only catch the Brightline Train between West Palm Beach, Fort Lauderdale and Miami. There are plans in the immediate future for Brightline to go to Cocoa and Orlando with long term plans for Jacksonville and Tampa. Hmmm….I wonder if #GoBrightline has thought about Tallahassee?
All in all we’re quite happy with the Brightline Train and look forward to many happy rides. Unfortunately, it’s not without issues, there have been several people who have lost their lives on the tracks, most thinking they can duck under the arms and beat the train as they cross the track. This is a high speed train, it’s only got 4 cars, it is so not worth losing your life over waiting for maybe 30 seconds.
My only complaint … they’ve got these really weird hand washing/drying system in the restrooms that not only sprays water, but blasts you with air and while it is supposed to only dry your hands (I assume) the blowback as the high speed air hits the edge of the sink is like a wind tunnel and it blows whatever water might be in the sink, or soap still on your hands onto you, your clothes and if you’re short like me, in your face. That kind of sucked. Hint …. use the sink in the handicap stall.
The main drawback that I see about Brightline at this time is the cost. It’s $25pp for Select Service or $15pp for Smart Service. The only difference being the size of the seat. You do get a “free” drink with Select, but you can also purchase that same drink while riding Smart. The seats are a couple of inches larger with the Smart service. I do hope they rethink their pricing structure because if Richard and I wanted to go down to Miami for the day, the train alone would cost us minimum $60 and then transportation to wherever we wanted to go and then the cost of what we were doing, etc …. see my point #GoBrightline?