Brightline is being built and opened in stages. The first section of the train’s route, from Miami to West Palm Beach, was adapted from a previously existing right-of-way and opened in 2018. That segment now includes stops in Miami, Aventura, Fort Lauderdale, Boca Raton, and West Palm Beach.
But the addition of the Orlando leg north of West Palm Beach required a lot more investment, including the construction of entirely new rail beds. Future expansion plans include pushing the line all the way to Tampa, on Florida’s west coast.
Brightline estimates that a trip between Orlando and West Palm Beach takes about 2 hours; going all the way between Orlando and Miami would take about 3 hours and 30 minutes. Driving the same full distance would usually take you 4 hours, but would cost you a lot more in stress (as you try to survive the Darwinist jungle of Florida’s seemingly lawless highways) and, at other times, dozy boredom (as you cross Florida’s mind-numbing swamps).
The train’s scheduling is convenient and plentiful. In late 2023, Brightline trains depart Orlando for South Florida 16 times a day between 5am and 8:50pm, which puts the last train of the day in Miami at 20 minutes after midnight.
Going north, from Miami to Orlando, 16 daily trains depart for Orlando at regular intervals between 5:45am and 9:45pm. No matter which direction you’re traveling, you’ll never have to wait more than 2 hours for the next train between 6am and 10pm.
For all this, a standard one-way ticket between Orlando and any station in South Florida costs $79 each way (peak hours favored by commuters may be $99). You can also buy “Family” tickets for four that start at $199. That costs much less than airfare usually costs for the same trip, and it saves hours of wasted time at airports.
How did Americans manage to make train travel so convenient? What is this—Switzerland?