5 questions with Brightline CEO Dave Howard, Florida’s brain of trains

Dave Howard is CEO of Brightline. Photograph by Felipe Cuevas.
Dave Howard is CEO of Brightline. Photograph by Felipe Cuevas.

When Brightline launches its express, inter-city train service, not only will it connect Miami to Fort Lauderdale and West Palm Beach in record time, it also will unveil the landmark Miami Central station downtown. The 11-acre mobility hub will link all of Miami-Dade County transit and boast a 20,000-square-foot food hall with a new restaurant by celebrity chef brothers Bryan and Michael Voltaggio. Brightline’s second phase will connect South Florida to Orlando. We talked with Brightline CEO Dave Howard, a former general counsel and executive with the New York Mets and president of MSG Sports, to find out how Brightline will transform our commutes.

Dave Howard at Brightline's headquarters in Miami. Photograph by Felipe Cuevas.

1. What drew you to Brightline?

“It’s such a transformative, innovative and game-changing project that I could not help but become involved. Having been a New Yorker my whole life, I understand the importance of alternative transportation options in the life of a well-functioning region.”

2. How will Brightline revolutionize the way we get around?

“As we seamlessly connect the three downtown city centers, we’re going to make people’s backyards bigger. They will have access to events and activities that they might not have thought about in the past because of traffic and parking challenges. It could be going to a new restaurant in Palm Beach or to a festival in Fort Lauderdale or to a Miami Heat game.”

3. How will the station change downtown Miami?

“Residents will use Miami Central for culinary and business opportunities irrespective of whether they’re taking Brightline. It’s a visually stunning structure downtown designed by Skidmore Owings & Merrill along with Miami’s Zycosovich Architects. It’s already spurring substantial development.”

‘People will have access to events they might not have thought about in the past because of traffic and parking challenges.’

4. What’s interesting about the experience aboard Brightline?

“On board, the seats are leather with power ports. The windows are big and offer great views. We’ll have powerful and free WiFi. The trains are the most accessible ever built, from an ADA perspective. We’re particularly proud that the trains are 100-percent Buy American-compliant, using components supplied by more than 40 suppliers from 20 different states.”

5. Do you like living in South Florida, having moved here from New York?

“I love it. I spent a lot of time in Florida during my time with the Mets because we had our spring training and minor league facility in Port Saint Lucie. My wife, Nancy, studied illustration at the Parsons School of Design in New York. I’m very excited — and she’s even more excited — about participating in Art Basel this year and getting more integrated into the offerings locally. A lot of the art that we have are pieces that she’s bought.”