All Aboard Florida’s Brightline on Tuesday unveiled the inside of its West Palm Beach station, offering the first glimpse at how passengers will move from the building’s ticketing turnstiles to its shaded train platform.
Crews are still putting the finishing touches on the station’s security area, “Good to Go” cafe, and two passenger waiting lounges, but officials said the bulk of the construction work has already been completed.
Brightline officials had said the company would start “pre-season” service between West Palm Beach and Fort Lauderdale in late July. Service between West Palm Beach and Miami was expected to begin in August.
But CEO Dave Howard said Tuesday the launch may be delayed.
“It’s probably going to be a little later in the summer,” Howard said Tuesday.
A grand opening that was set to be held in September, is now set for the fall, a company official said.
Once operational, Brightline’s trains will shuttle passengers between West Palm Beach and Miami in about an hour. Ticket prices have not been announced.
As part of Tuesday’s event, which was attended by elected officials, local business leaders and members of the media, Howard explained how passengers will maneuver through the station, which is located just north of CityPlace in the heart of downtown West Palm Beach.
Tickets can be purchased using the company’s soon-to-launch mobile app or at the station’s first-floor ticketing area. Baggage can also be checked at counters on the ground floor.
Escalators will carry passengers to the second floor, where “smart turnstiles” will scan their tickets. The system will be able to tell if a passenger has arrived early, and may be able to board an earlier train, Howard.
After scanning their tickets, passengers will go through a security checkpoint, before making their way to one of two waiting areas depending on their class of ticket.
Brightline will sell tickets in two classes — Select and Smart. The Select tickets feature larger seats and complimentary food and beverage service both in the stations and on the trains. Smart car travelers will be able to purchase food items, officials said.
The station will also boast a business lounge, conference room, WiFi, and a play area for children, Howard said.
When a train is arriving, passengers will be directed to another set of escalators, which will carry them down to the station’s shaded rail platform.
Brighline is also building a residential tower and parking garage across the street from the station. Howard said Tuesday that the garage and the station are expected to open at the same time. Units in the residential tower will be available in the third quarter of 2018, he said.
Meanwhile, work continues on a planned “quiet zone” to silence train horns along the Florida East Coast Railway tracks. The quiet zone will be in place when Brightline begins operating its trains this summer, Howard said.
Palm Beach County Mayor Paulette Burdick praised the project at Tuesday’s private event saying Brightline will not only help keep cars off the road, but it will also serve as an economic engine for the county.
“I look forward to that very first train and welcoming our guests in a very short months,” Burdick said.
West Palm Beach Mayor Jeri Muoio said the station has already helped spur new development in the downtown area, adding that she expects the economic benefits to continue to grow after service begins later this year.
“It is going to be a great asset for our city,” Muoio said Tuesday. “I only see positives here.”
Eventually, Brightline plans to expand service north to Orlando.
Construction on the company’s West Palm Beach-to-Orlando leg has not yet begun. Brightline officials have said the project will take at least two years to complete from the time work starts.
The second phase has the potential to carry millions of tourists between South Florida and Miami each year.
“The statistics in this state are amazing,” Howard said Tuesday. “Orlando has 60 million visitors a year. Miami has 40 million visitors. There are hundreds of millions of trips a year between those two city centers.”
Florida’s population is expected to grow by 6 million people over the next 12 years, according Mark Wilson president and CEO of the Florida Chamber of Commerce. By that point, 150 million tourists are expected to visit the state each year — up from last year’s record-breaking level of 112.8 million, he added.
“One thing that they all have in common is they want to figure out how to get from here to there,” Wilson said.