Brightline, which began operating its fast-moving trains between West Palm Beach and Fort Lauderdale in January, is offering a 50 percent off discount to festival-goers who want to ditch their cars and try the train. To receive the discount, riders have to book their tickets using the promo code SUNFEST.
The annual outdoor festival draws people from all over the country, but Brightline’s passenger trains offer a unique way for revelers to reach the event. The West Palm Beach station is located just blocks from SunFest’s stages, and the ride between the two stations takes about 40 minutes.
The company has also altered its service schedule to include later trains to accommodate SunFest attendees. The last trains will depart Brightline’s West Palm Beach station at 11:45 p.m. on Friday and Saturday and 10 p.m. on Sunday so festival-goers won’t miss SunFest’s closing acts.
“It are these things that will help patrons make there day more enjoyable,” said festival spokeswoman Melissa Sullivan. “It is steps from SunFest, which is so ideal.”
In 2012, about 6 percent of the SunFest’s attendees were from Broward County. That number grew to about 11 percent last year, Sullivan said.
Meanwhile, overall attendance in recent years has remained steady at roughly 175,000, Sullivan said. Although SunFest has fewer days this year, Sullivan said attendance is expect to remain at that level.
“Even losing a day, we were hoping and expecting to be around the same amount,” she said.
Brightline plans to launch service to Miami in the coming weeks. And although the trains won’t start running in time for this year’s festival, Sullivan said they could be an option for Miami Dade County residents next year.
“When Miami comes on that will really open up a new market,” Sullivan said. “I think the pain factor of dealing with traffic and coming the distance is even greater there. I think it is a bigger hurdle the further south you are.”
Serena Hoermann of Jupiter had her transportation plan all worked out for SunFest’s opening on Thursday — or so she thought. She parked at the Tri-Rail station in downtown West Palm Beach and took the train to work in Boca Raton, intending to take it back to SunFest.
“But I missed it,” she said. But she caught an Uber — “Just 25 bucks” — and got to the music and fun with no problems.
Joanne Jackson of Jupiter usually prepays for parking, in a lot that’s a little bit of a walk, but decided to wing it Thursday.
Fortunately, “we found parking right around the corner. It was easy!”
Staff writers Leslie Gray Streeter and Julio Poletti contributed to this story.