How much will it cost to take the new Brightline? Express train finally sets fare and debut date

Brightline trains are doing “simulated” trial runs before they debut.
Brightline trains are doing “simulated” trial runs before they debut.

Brightline, the private passenger rail service aiming to connect South Florida’s downtown areas with express service, announced fares starting at $10 per leg with a Saturday launch for service from Fort Lauderdale to West Palm Beach.

With plans to extend to downtown Miami in the coming months, the company hopes to become a legitimate alternative for South Florida commuters frustrated with gridlock on the highways or night-life revelers looking for a permanent, diesel-electric designated driver.

A one-way ride will cost $10 for Brightline’s basic “Smart” package and $15 for the more high-end “Select” package, featuring leather seats, free parking, free food, beverages and free premium guest lounge access. The five four-car train sets will each hold 240 people.

Seniors, active military and veterans will receive a 10 percent discount. Children 12 and under will receive a 50 percent discount.

Initially, Brightline will offer 10 daily roundtrips on weekdays and nine on weekends, with service beginning as early as 6 a.m. and ending as late as 11 p.m.

Seats will be offered as singles or doubles, along with “quad arrangements” where double seats face each other with a table in between. A mobile phone app is available to check arrival times and book rides, with a full schedule of rides to be released later in the day.

The introductory fare is almost double the cost of a one-way weekday ticket on Tri-Rail over the same route. But Brightline promises a 35-minute nonstop ride between downtowns — about half the time of Tri-Rail’s multi-stop service.

The Miami Central Station of Brightline nears final construction in downtown Miami on August 7, 2017. Patrick Farrell The Miami Herald

Rides from Miami to Fort Lauderdale will take about 35 minutes, with an additional 30 minutes from Fort Lauderdale to West Palm Beach. The company calls itself the only privately funded, operated and maintained rail service in the United States.

Service between Fort Lauderdale and West Palm Beach originally was slated for launch last summer, with service linking downtown Miami and Fort Lauderdale due a few months later. The launch date for that leg has yet to be announced. Introductory pricing for the leg between Miami and Fort Lauderdale will be the same.

Early this year, construction will begin on an extension to Orlando, as Brightline hopes to tantalize Miamians with a three-hour trip to Orlando International Airport.

The Miami station will be near the corner of Northwest Second Avenue and Sixth Street; the Fort Lauderdale station at 101 NW Second Ave.; the West Palm Beach station near the corner of Evernia Street and South Rosemary Avenue.

The private rail service also announced yet another leadership change. COO Patrick Goddard will take over as president, replacing former sports executive Dave Howard, who joined the company in March as CEO. Howard replaced Mike Reininger, who became executive director of Brightline parent FECI.