Brightline starts service Saturday; round-trip fares starting at $20

All Aboard Florida’s Brightline will launch introductory service on its passenger trains on Saturday , with round-trip fares starting at $20 for rides between its stations in Fort Lauderdale and West Palm Beach.

During the week, the company plans to run 10 round-trip trains a day between the two cities. There will be nine round-trip trains on the weekends.

Trains will depart as early as 6 a.m. and as late as 11 p.m. The schedules will differ between weekdays and weekends, Brightline said.

Introductory “Try Our Train Fares” will be $10 each way for a seat in one of Brightline’s Smart Service cars. One-way tickets for a Select Service seat will cost $15, the company said.

Each train will include three Smart coach cars and one Select coach car. The Select cars feature larger seats and complimentary food and beverage service. Smart-car travelers will be able to buy food items, officials said.

Seniors, active military and veterans will receive a 10 percent discount. Tickets for children 12 and under will be discounted by 50 percent.

The company is expected to launch is mobile ticketing app and its new website this morning. Customers can buy tickets and check train times on both the app and the website.

A one-way ride between the two cities is expected to take about 35 minutes, with trains traveling at speeds of up to 79 mph.

Brightline said it plans to extend service to its station in Miami in the coming months. The station is still being built.

Eventually, Brightline plans to offer trips between South Florida and Orlando. Construction on the Orlando leg is set to begin this year, Brightline said.

Along with its start date, Brightline also announced that Patrick Goddard has been promoted to company president. For more than a year, Goddard has been instrumental in leading Brightline’s operation team in preparation for the start of service, the company said.

“We are thrilled to have South Florida preview Brightline with the launch of introductory service,” Goddard said in a statement released by the company. “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.”

Brightline officials have said their service stands out from other rail ventures because it will be privately owned, operated and maintained. The company’s trains will run on HenryFlagler’s historic rail corridor, passing through the heart of many of South Florida’s coastal cities. Brightline’s launch marks the first time passenger trains have run on the Floirda East Coast Railway tracks since 1968, when passenger service was discontinued following a union strike.

Brightline’s trains have plugs and USB jacks at every seat, free onboard WiFi and “super wide” aisles that span 32 inches.

The train’s restrooms are large and “touchless,” a feature that allows passengers to flush with a wave of their hand.

The seats, which measure 21 inches or 19 inches wide depending on passenger class, recline in place. The bottom cushion slides down and out, as opposed to the back of the chair — a feature that allows passengers to recline without invading the space of the person behind them.

Train cars have a variety of seating options, including groups of four chairs around a table with built-in charging stations for families and business travelers.

But as Brightline prepares for its launch, the company continues to draw criticism from some longtime supporters of the project who are upset that it didn’t make good on a promise to create a continuous quiet zone to silence train horns along its route.

The zone will run from 15th Street in West Palm Beach south to the county line. It will silence the horns of both Brightline’s trains and freight locomotives that travel along the FEC tracks.

West Palm Beach Mayor Jeri Muoio said Wednesday the city recently learned that it will be four to six months before the safety upgrades needed to implement the quiet zone is finished. Brightline is overseeing the construction. The company has said it will be several months before it is completed.

Muoio will meet with Brightline officials today to discuss the delay.

“I am very disappointed that the quiet zones aren’t up and ready to go,” said Muoio, who has supported the rail project.

Muoio said she hopes Brightline will find a way to complete the quiet-zone work more quickly.

“I’m hoping that they will come to the meeting with a schedule that is reasonable,” she said.

Phil Stone, a resident of the CityPlace South Tower, which is on Okeechobee Boulevard just west of the FEC tracks, said horn blasts from the company’s trains have become unbearable.

From the balcony of his 12th floor unit, Stone has measured blasts as high as 105 decibels — slightly louder than the noise of a snowmobile or a motorcycle, he said Tuesday.

Stone said he had been looking forward to riding Brightline’s trains to Fort Lauderdale, but plans to boycott the service until the quiet zone is in place.

“My wife and I are never going to ride that if it is making that racket outside my house,” Stone said.

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