The commute between Miami and Fort Lauderdale is a headache and frustration inducing drive for many Florida residents. A drive that usually takes 30 minutes when there is little to no traffic can easily double during rush hour. Or worse, if there is an accident, road work or some other type of traffic disrupting event, the drive can end up lasting a few hours.
Fortunately, Wes Edens’ Brightline train, part of the United States’ only privately owned and operated passenger rail system, now provides another option for those looking to travel between those two major South Florida cities. Brought to you by All Aboard Florida, Brightline started serving Miami on May 19, 2018. Brightline has been running routes between West Palm Beach and Fort Lauderdale since the beginning of the year, but having service extended to the Magic City is a significant step to reduce traffic and provide commuters with a more green-friendly travel option.
Brightline runs trains between Miami and Fort Lauderdale several times a day. On most days of the week the first train departs in Miami at 7:10 AM with the last train departing at 11:10 PM. In Fort Lauderdale, you can expect the first train to depart to Miami at 6:12 AM with the last train leaving at 9:42 PM. Each route takes between 33 and 35 minutes, depending on which way you are traveling, with speeds that can reach up to 79 miles per hour. Compare that to the cars going only 34 miles per hours on Interstate 95 and the choice is clear – Brightline gets Florida moving!
Wes Edens, Fortress Investment Group co-founder and co-chair, speaks about the country’s first private intercity passenger railroad in Florida and his outlook for other transportation infrastructure development.
Riders on these trains also get to enjoy complimentary wifi, power outlets and USB ports while sitting in leather seats and walking down wide aisles. Food service and lounges are also available.
Brightline, who is owned by Fortress Investment Group, has aspirations of implementing this type of commuters rail service in multiple cities across the United States. Wes Edens, the co-founder and co-chief executive officer of Fortress Investment Group, even hopes to extend the Miami-West Palm Beach route all the way to Orlando, some 235 miles away. Even though this route is still a few years away, once complete the train will travel up to 125 miles per hour – reducing the travel time between the 2 cities to less than 2 hours.
Wes Edens, who graduated from Oregon State University, is also interested in connecting Dallas and Houston with a Brightline route and has even considered other routes such as Chicago to St. Louis, and Atlanta to Charlotte. There were also some rumors that Wes Edens, who is also the co-owner of the Milwaukee Bucks, would connect Chicago and Milwaukee, but this route is unlikely since additional train services are much needed elsewhere.
Brightline is off to a great start. The initial route between Miami – Fort Lauderdale – West Palm Beach route has already received a tremendous amount of support and press, which is promising for future routes and implementing the train service in other cities. One of the most impressive aspects of the route in South Florida is the building and opening of the MiamiCentral Station. Not only is it home to several arriving and departing Brightline trains all day long, but it also offers connections with other transportation providers and shops, eateries and residences.
Brightline’s accomplishments and future plans are also expected to help increase real estate prices in areas that are served by stations. As the service becomes more popular amongst commuters, residential options in connected cities will also become more attractive.
Of course, the biggest benefit is the ease of commute for those living in areas served by Brightline. It’s been well researched that extensive commuting times add a tremendous amount of stress to those peoples’ lives and also keep them from enjoying time with their families and friends and to fully unwind from what are often trying days at work. A Miami Herald article from a few years ago revealed some thoughts shared by commuters who traveled regularly in South Florida and who may now get to enjoy some relief from the commuting stress that they had been feeling.