By Gerry Barker
It’s been a long time coming, but after years of planning and construction, Brightline, Florida’s inter-city rail service, is ready to take passengers between Orlando and Miami
The highly-anticipated opening of the new Brightline station at Orlando International Airport was officially unveiled April 20 in a ceremony featuring Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer, Orange County Mayor Jerry Demings, Chief Executive Officer of the Greater Orlando Aviation Authority, Kevin Thibault, and Brightline’s CEO Mike Reininger, along with Brightline President Patrick Goddard and 300 invited guests.
Just as anticipated for travelers is the answer to “What will it cost?” Brightline answered that as well. Ticket sales start in May, with one-way fares starting at $79 for SMART and $149 for PREMIUM. They also announced SMART fare bundles for families of four will be available for less than $199 one way.
“Today’s milestone is the last piece of transformative infrastructure that is now complete as we ready ourselves for the start of the service we have been building for a decade,” said Mike Reininger, Brightline CEO. “This station will be a gateway for visitors and travelers throughout Florida, but beyond that, it is indicative of how we set out to transform travel in a way that hasn’t been done in more than a century. We’re proud to start this journey in Florida and rejuvenated in our belief that the time is now to accomplish this in other parts of the country.”
The Orlando station occupies 37,350 square feet in the airport’s new new 80,000 sq. ft. Train Station facility adjacent to Terminal C and offers a direct connection to the airport’s Parking Garage C, “which will have more than 350 parking spaces branded for Brightline guests.” There’s also direct access to terminals A and B via the airport Terminal Link (automated people mover) in under five minutes.
Inside the main entrance, passengers can purchase tickets from guest services or self-service kiosks, and “check luggage before proceeding through touchless turnstiles into the security screening tunnel.” Other familiar features include:
— Mary Mary Bar, serving hand-crafted cocktails and light bites, offering a panoramic view overlooking the train platforms.
— Above the Mary Mary bar is “an iconic, split-flap message board that can rotate alphanumeric text and/or graphics to form a message — a nostalgic nod to historic train stations, the split-flap will provide updated train schedules, boarding times, news of the day and other announcements complete with sounds reminiscent of the first passenger train stations in America.”
— MRKT PLACE is a retail space offering gifts, sundries and refreshments.
Brightline offers two classes of service, SMART and PREMIUM. Brightline’s PREMIUM service includes complimentary meals, snacks and beverages, a dedicated first class lounge, free checked luggage, priority boarding and a dedicated coach.
“All guests will have access to free high-speed Wi-Fi, charging stations at every seat, 87 big screen televisions and a BrightKids children’s play area located in the SMART lounge.”
Brightline says service will begin in summer 2023 and include 16 daily round trips, with hourly departures between Miami and Orlando. The run time between Miami and Orlando isf two hours and 59 minutes. “Regular service from Orlando to Miami will stop at all Brightline stations including West Palm Beach, Boca Raton, Fort Lauderdale and Aventura with a run time of three hours and 30 minutes.”
On weekdays, there will be hourly southbound departures from Orlando to Miami starting at 5:00 a.m. until 8:50 p.m., with the first southbound train from Orlando arrives in Miami at 8:30 a.m. Hourly northbound departures from Miami to Orlando start at 6:50 a.m. until 9:45 p.m., with the first northbound train from Miami arrives in Orlando at 10:15 a.m.
On weekends, hourly southbound departures from Orlando to Miami starting at 5:00 a.m. until 8:50 p.m., with the first southbound train from Orlando arrives in Miami at 8:30 a.m. Hourly northbound departures from Miami to Orlando starting at 5:45 a.m. until 9:45 p.m., with the first northbound train from Miami arrives in Orlando at 9:15 a.m.
“Additional dedicated trains will continue to serve commuters and the South Florida region between Miami and West Palm Beach with early morning departures at 5:00 a.m. from West Palm Beach and late night departures until 12:45 a.m. out of Miami.”
SOURCE: Brightline press release