Axios Miami

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Thursday is here! It's National Pet Day.

⛅️ Today's forecast: Partly sunny and breezy. High near 85Β°.

🎧 Sounds like: "The Train" by Macklemore and Ryan Lewis.

Today's newsletter is 898 words β€” a 3.5-minute read.

1 big thing: Don't forget to pack your car

Waiting to board the Auto Train in Sanford. Photo: Niala Boodhoo/Axios

Ridership on Amtrak's Auto Train, the largest passenger train in the world, continues to grow.

Why it matters: The Amtrak Auto Train, which runs on a 900-mile southeast route, is a railway success story you've probably never heard.

  • One of its three profitable lines, the Auto Train carries a comparatively small total of passengers, but appeals to snowbirds and families who want to bring their vehicles and belongings to and from areas near D.C. and Orlando.

By the numbers: Auto Train ridership has outpaced pre-pandemic levels β€” part of an overall boom for Amtrak ridership in recent years, the transit company said in a statement.

  • In fiscal year 2019, Auto Train transported around 236,000 passengers, and by fiscal year 2022, that had increased to around 279,000.

Among the more than 283,00 passengers last year? "Axios 1 big thing" podcast host Niala Boodhoo, who goes back to her native Florida every winter.

  • She shared her Auto Train experience and tips with us.

How it works: Every day, a train each leaves Lorton, Virginia, and Sanford at 5pm (Bonus: Sometimes it's early!) and arrives in the other city at 10am. The train only stops once overnight to switch out the engineering crew.

  • You can only ride the Auto Train if you bring your car, which cost me $285 for my small-sized SUV. (Cost depends on vehicle type.)
  • Amtrak says consider your car like a "checked bag" β€” you can pack it as much as you want, but when you get to the station, you exit your vehicle, which then goes to the car portion of the train.
  • People can get either a coach seat or first class, with options for a roomette for two, a bedroom or bedroom suite. Costs vary greatly depending on demand.
  • Coach and roomettes share bathrooms and a shower with others on that passenger carriage. Bedrooms contain their own bathroom and shower.

Go deeper: Niala's review of the rooms, food

2. πŸ“ City's sounds inspire student’s O, Miami poem

Kerlande Alouidor wrote the poem that will adorn this year's O, Miami bag. Photos: Courtesy of Michelande Alouidor and O, Miami

Kerlande Alouidor started writing poems in fifth grade when O, Miami, a local nonprofit that features poetry, came to her class as part of its education series.

State of swag: Now, as a sixth grader at Morningside K–8 Academy, one of her poems is prominently displayed on this year's edition of the O, Miami Poetry Festival's coveted tote bag.

Catch up quick: Each year, O, Miami selects a poem to feature on totes distributed at events throughout the month-long festival, which began last week.

  • This year, the team at the nonprofit chose Kerlande's because it "conveys a strong desire for more empathy and community" in this city.
  • At first, Kerlande said she was "very surprised" to hear the news. Then she was "so excited."

Kerlande wrote: "I hear and hate, but listen and love. I love where I live and I would never leave."

Zoom in: Kerlande tells Axios her inspiration "was really my family members, the noises I hear in my school and outside of my house."

  • Her family, friends and even the city's sounds are the reasons she loves Miami and would never leave, she said.
  • She also plans to keep writing poetry.

Spread the word

3. Cafecito: Famed Spanish bar hosts Miami takeover

Illustration: Lindsey Bailey/Axios

πŸ’² A Broward County school board member is requesting the board rescind a February decision to increase teacher pay using federal relief money. (Sun Sentinel)

  • Torey Alston, a Gov. Ron DeSantis appointee who suggested the vote was improper and asked the state to investigate it, says there's insufficient money to increase pay for other employees.

🏠 A Miami home is the first house in the world to be certified by the International WELL Building Institute. (Miami Herald)

🍸 Paradiso, a Barcelona bar that holds the fourth spot on the World's 50 Best Bars list, is taking over the Matador Bar at the Miami Beach Edition for one night on April 18. (New Times)

πŸ“· A retired Florida Supreme Court justice criticized last week's ruling that paved the way for a six-week abortion ban to go into effect next month. (Slate)

  • "Unfortunately, with this court, precedent is precedent until it is not," wrote Justice Barbara Pariente, who left the bench in 2019.

4. πŸ“ˆ Charted: Mortgage offers to first-time buyers

Share of mortgage offers made to first-time homebuyers in 2023
Data: LendingTree; Note: Mortgage offer refers to any type of mortgage offered to a LendingTree marketplace user by a LendingTree lender; Map: Axios Visuals

First-time homebuyers received 64.5% of mortgage offers in Florida in 2023, per a recent report by LendingTree.

Why it matters: It's one more sign current homeowners are still feeling the golden handcuffs effect of not wanting to give up existing low-rate mortgages.

The big picture: Nationwide, 65% of mortgage offers went to first-time homebuyers in 2023, per the report.

  • Over the past five years, the share of first-time buyers purchasing a home has increased, according to Zillow.

Between the lines: However, fewer people overall were taking out mortgages in 2023. "First-time buyers simply appear to make up a larger portion of a relatively small pool of buyers," LendingTree economist Jacob Channel says.

What's next: "As rates decline, we'll likely see more repeat buyers jump back into the housing market," Channel says.

Go deeper: Inside Biden's plan to unlock the golden handcuffs

Sponsored job listings

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Want more opportunities? Check out our Job Board.

Hiring? Use code FIRST50 for $50 off your first job post.

5. πŸ”₯ 1 hot home to go

The condo has panoramic views of Biscayne Bay and the city. Photo: Become Legendary/Dina Goldentayer

Miami nightlife impresario David Grutman and his wife, designer Isabela Grutman, have listed their condo at Zaha Hadid's One Thousand Museum for $7.2 million.

  • The Grutmans' condo is 4,600 square feet, with four suites, five bathrooms and panoramic views of Biscayne Bay and the city.
A view from the condo's patio.
Photo: Become Legendary/Dina Goldentayer
  • The curvy luxury condo tower β€” which was designed by the late Pritzker prize-winning architect and has a rooftop helipad β€” also claims David and Victoria Beckham among its celebrity owners.

πŸ›οΈ Sommer is in D.C. at Axios HQ!

πŸ₯Ί Martin spent National Pet Day Eve at the vet with a sick pup.

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This newsletter was edited by Jeff Weiner and copy edited by Nicole Ortiz and Anjelica Tan.