Updated Jan 5, 2024 - News

Tri-Rail service to downtown Miami finally launches

Tri-Rail train at a station.

A Tri-Rail train waits at the Cypress Creek station north of Fort Lauderdale. Photo: Daniel Slim/AFP via Getty Images

After six years of delays, Tri-Rail is finally expanding its low-cost train service to downtown Miami, though not with direct routes yet.

Driving the news: The South Florida Regional Transportation Authority announced that it will "soft launch" service from Hialeah to MiamiCentral Station beginning Jan. 13.

Why it matters: The delayed expansion, initially scheduled for 2017, will further connect South Florida, giving riders from as far north as Palm Beach County a direct ride to downtown Miami.

State of play: Brightline, a privately operated high-speed rail line, currently offers the only other train service between Palm Beach and downtown Miami — at a much higher cost.

But, but, but: The new Tri-Rail route won't offer direct rides for now. Riders will have to transfer to a shuttle train to get to MiamiCentral Station.

  • A press release announcing the launch did not include details about when direct, one-seat rides would be offered.

What they're saying: Miami-Dade Commissioner Raquel Regalado, a transit authority government board member, tells Axios that Tri-Rail does not currently have enough trains that meet the stricter emission standards required to enter MiamiCentral Station.

  • The authority is working to upgrade or replace those trains to provide one-seat rides downtown.
  • She says it might be "a matter of months" before those direct rides are available.

Catch up fast: The tax-funded project has overcome numerous setbacks, like a platform too narrow for Tri-Rail to use, which led to the resignation of the agency's director Steven Abrams in 2022.

  • "It has been years of hard work and coordination with many supporting partners throughout the region, so we celebrate this news with them, our supporters and mostly our loyal passengers," Regalado said in a statement.

Be smart: Starting Jan. 13, southbound riders will hop aboard a shuttle train at the Metrorail Transfer Station in Hialeah to get downtown.

  • Two weeks later, Tri-Rail will gradually ramp up to offer 26 weekday trains, including 13 in and out of MiamiCentral.
  • Regalado says the authority would reduce some routes to Miami International Airport to accommodate the extension, but a Tri-Rail spokesperson tells Axios that service to MIA will continue as normal.
  • A reduction in trains to MIA — part of the original plans for the project — would be “reevaluated once we are in a position to offer one-seat rides,” the spokesperson says.

Editor's note: This story has been updated to reflect that Tri-Rail service to MIA will continue as normal at least until direct, one-ride seats to downtown are available.

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