Brightline launches train route from Miami to Orlando
The new transit option between Miami and Orlando is finally open.
What's happening: Brightline, the privately owned high-speed rail company, debuted its new route today after years of anticipation.
Why it matters: The company is trying to win over some of the more than 40 million people who make the trip between Miami and Orlando each year — with about 90% of them driving, the Associated Press reports.
How it works: The biodiesel trains travel up to 79 mph in urban areas, 110 mph in more rural areas and 125 mph through central Florida's farmland, per AP.
- In Miami-Dade, you can catch the train downtown or in Aventura. There are also stations in Fort Lauderdale, Boca and West Palm Beach. Its final destination is the Orlando International Airport.
- A direct ride from Miami to Orlando takes about 3.5 hours, compared to a roughly four-hour drive depending on traffic.
Yes, but: It's also more expensive, especially for families.
Pricing: Round-trip business class tickets start at $158 for adults and $78 for kids ages 2–12, with groups of four or more saving 25%.
- A family of four with two young children could book one round-trip ticket for $398.
- Premium rides offering complimentary food and drinks start at $298.
What they're saying: Mark Merwitzer, policy manager for the nonprofit Transit Alliance Miami, tells Axios that Brightline should consider discounted tickets for county residents.
- "We're trying to make this affordable for all Miami-Dade residents, not just those who can afford very expensive train tickets each way," he said.
- While the expanded route is positive news, Merwitzer says his group is focused on improving the company's service in Miami.
What we're watching: How will Brightline's higher speeds and longer route impact public safety?
- Its trains have the highest death rate of any railroad in the U.S., killing 98 people since launching its Miami to West Palm Beach route in 2018, per an AP analysis.
- Brightline hasn't been ruled at fault in any of the deaths, per AP, which have largely been suicides, cases of impatient drivers going around crossing gates and pedestrians misjudging the train's speed.
- Last year, the federal government awarded $25 million toward rail safety improvements along the Florida East Coast Railway Line, where Brightline runs its trains, as part of a larger $45 million program.
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