The Brightline high-speed rail service will launch on Saturday with 35 minute, $10 rides between the downtown Fort Lauderdale and West Palm, but its website encountered opening day glitches on Thursday.
Brightline will be in the spotlight nationally as the only privately funded and operated rail service in the United States. In a few months, trains will run to downtown Miami, where an 11-acre transit hub is under construction near the Miami-Dade County Courthouse. In a few years, passengers will be able to take 3 1/2 hour journeys from the Miami to Orlando International Airport and connect with the SunRail commuter service.
An upgraded select service for $15 includes wider seats, beverage service and access to a lounge. Seniors, active military and veterans will receive a 10 percent discount. Kids 12 and under will receive a 50 percent discount.
Brightline initially will have 10 daily roundtrips during the weekdays and nine on the weekends. While the news media will have a preview ride on Friday, the first public service will be 8 a.m. Saturday on a southbound train from West Palm Beach. The first northbound will leave Fort Lauderdale at 9:25 a.m.
Brightline also unveiled a website for passengers to book service. However, there was an apology on gobrightline.com on Thursday morning, saying that the response was overwhelming it. In the afternoon, Brightline had a message that said, “Due to overwhelming excitement, we’re experiencing site traffic delays and booking glitches. We have temporarily suspended booking rides where train times are displayed as ‘sold out’ while we work through the kinks.”
Brightline also said it launched mobile apps, but SFBW could not find them on the Apple or Google stores. A chat bot on the Brightline website said the app wasn’t available for download on the Apple store.
The trains are 100 percent Buy America compliant and were assembled by more than 1,000 employees at Siemens USA in Sacramento, California. More than 40 suppliers in over 20 states supplied the components for the state-of-the-art trains.
In addition to the launch date, Brightline also announces the promotion of Patrick Goddard to company president.
“We are thrilled to have South Florida preview Brightline with the launch of introductory service,” said Goddard, who is also COO. “We believe the comfort and convenience of our travel experience paired with premium hospitality will set a new standard for passenger rail service. Our team will continue to ramp up operations as we prepare to fully launch this transformative new infrastructure asset for South Florida.”
Want to read more about Brightline? Here are some previous stories about it and mass transit in South Florida:
- Part One of SFBW’s two-part overview on the future of mass transit in South Florida.
- Part Two of SFBW’s two-part overview on the future of mass transit in South Florida.
- Brightline names sports and entertainment veteran new CEO
- Brightline unveils cool new trains
- Brightline has sneak peek of West Palm Beach station
- Brightline’s Miami station will help fuel downtown renaissance
- The Ironman leading construction of Brightline’s MiamiCentral station