Good things come to those who wait.
That was the message Brightline sent to Miami commuters on Friday as it announced that its fast-travel rail service was finally coming to downtown — and not just “soon” or “in the coming weeks” as the company has been known to promise over the past year.
If you’re interested in a half-hour, one-way ride to Fort Lauderdale or an hourlong zip to West Palm Beach, Saturday, May 19 — no turning back now, Brightline — is officially when regular service will begin to and from downtown’s MiamiCentral station, Chief Operating Officer and President Patrick Goddard announced during a ribbon-cutting at the new station on Friday morning.
Brightline, a privately funded rail service owned by Florida East Coast Industries, hosted the mayors of Miami and Miami-Dade County along with South Florida U.S. Reps. Frederica Wilson, Debbie Wasserman-Schultz and Carlos Curbelo at its newly risen station.
Speakers, including Goddard, hailed the railway as a continuation of Henry Flagler’s vision to connect Florida with railways and said it would boost local economies and help ease congestion.
“This is indeed a very historic moment,” Wilson said. “I’m hoping that history will repeat itself.”
After the announcement, Brightline invited reporters, stakeholders and politicos on an inaugural ride departing from MiamiCentral to Fort Lauderdale and West Palm Beach.
Introductory fares for a one-way Miami to West Palm ride will begin at $15 for “Smart” service and cost $25 for the more luxurious “Select” option. Riding between Miami and Fort Lauderdale will run you between $10 and $15. Both coaches have leather seats, but "Select" service includes complimentary food and beverage options and access to a "premium guest lounge."
Wi-Fi and an assortment of electrical outlets are available at each station and aboard the trains themselves.
Brightline is offering special $3 and $5 fares on May 19 and 20. The plan is to eventually link the rail service to Orlando in the coming years.
Discounts are available for children, those over 65 years old and active or former military service men and women. Group pricing and packages are available for frequent riders. Brightline is pet-friendly, and each ticketed guest is allowed to bring along one dog or cat in a carrier they provide. Depending on the size of the carrier, pets will either ride with their owner — on their lap or under their seat — or in a luggage compartment.
During introductory service while construction continues along the FEC corridor, Brightline will operate eight northbound and eight southbound trips to and from MiamiCentral.
Each station, which offers paid parking in dedicated garages, opens 30 minutes before the first train and closes 30 minutes after the last train departs. Brightline is offering complimentary parking during introductory service. MiamiCentral, 600 NW First Ave., is located between Northwest Third Street and Northwest Eigth Street.
On weekdays, trains will depart from MiamiCentral beginning at 7:05 a.m. and continuing throughout the day until 8:05 p.m. Mondays through Thursdays and until 11:05 p.m. on Fridays. The earliest arrival at MiamiCentral on weekdays is at 6:35 a.m., while the latest arrival is at 7:20 p.m. Mondays through Thursdays and at 10:20 p.m. on Fridays.
On weekends, trains will depart every two hours from 9:05 a.m. until 11:05 p.m. on Saturdays and until 9:05 p.m. on Sundays. The earliest arrival at MiamiCentral on weekends is at 8:20 a.m. The latest Saturday arrival is at 10:20 p.m., and the latest Sunday arrival is at 8:20 p.m.
Eight round trips will be offered on weekdays, and seven on weekends.
A full schedule can be found at gobrightline.com.
“This is just a gem, a jewel of a project,” said U.S. Rep. Bill Shuster, chairman of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, adding that a similar rail system could benefit countless other cities across the country. “This is a project that’s good for America.”