Shuttles and buses and Teslas, oh my! When Brightline’s colorful trains begin rolling again between Miami, Fort Lauderdale and West Palm Beach on Monday, the express rail service will also launch a new door-to-door ride-share service via electric shuttles, small electric buses and Teslas.
With Brightline+, the company plans to offer a convenient, complete customer journey that starts when you leave your home or office until your return. The service will roll out slowly, starting with service back to your final destination and will be enabled by a new Brightline app.
“As an innovator at the intersection of transportation and technology, Brightline is leading the future of high-speed rail in America and transforming the end-to-end mobility experience for riders with a service that will be unlike anything offered in North America,” said Patrick Goddard, President of Brightline, in a statement. “Through Brightline+, we are solving the long-standing gaps of the first and last mile and, in the process, proudly supporting Miami’s growing tech sector.”
Brightline+ service will be phased in
Brightline, which halted its service in March 2020 because of the pandemic, has contracted with a number of companies, including Iomob, Via, Circuit and Kaptyn, to provide Brightline+. The vehicles will all be easily identifiable as Brightline vehicles. Passengers can now purchase tickets and book Brightline+transportation through Brightline’s new website and mobile app, available for download in Google Play and the Apple Store.
(For customers who still prefer to drive, parking will still be available at garages near the stations, and the Brightline app will help with that too.)
After first rolling out Brightline+ for the end of the journey, Brightline plans to start adding door-to-door transportation from a customer’s start point on Dec. 1.
OK, but how much will it cost?
To kick off the service through the end of the year, shared vehicle rides will be free and private rides will cost $10. Prices for 2022 have not been announced.
The program is starting with shuttles, buses and Teslas but the plan is to add CitiBikes and other micro-mobility modes, such as scooters, in the near future. Brightline says the Brightline+ fleet will also be fully electric by 2022.
“The return of Brightline’s service and the debut of Brightline+ is a key component to transforming Miami into a major technology hub in the U.S.,” said Miami Mayor Francis Suarez, in a statement. “With this new innovation in transportation, we are connecting Miami like never before, providing endless business opportunities for the entire region of South Florida.”
Mobility as an economic development tool
Indeed, government and economic development officials see Brightline as a tool for helping persuade businesses to relocate to the region. It helped CEO Daniel Robinson of Red 6, a defense-tech company, decide to move Red 6’s corporate HQ from California to Miami and its tech team to Orlando. Not only can the company’s South Florida workers use the Brightline to easily get to work – its HQ is located near the downtown station – but getting between Miami and Orlando will be easy too.
Brightline’s leg to Orlando is planned to be finished by the end of 2022 or early 2023. In the future, there will also be Brightline stations in Boca Raton, Aventura and PortMiami, further connecting the region. Work on those stations is in the early stages.
Brightline says it is working with Miami-Dade Transit, Broward County Transit, and Palm Tran to produce the first multimodal transit payments integration with high-speed rail in the nation. Brightline is also improving rider transportation information by providing real-time updates via TransitScreen.
Riders need to book Brightline+ fleet transportation at least two hours in advance of a scheduled departure through the website and mobile Brightline app, with a real-time arrival estimate provided at time of purchase and journey tracking throughout. The app will also allow riders to order food prior to their journey, at the station, or onboard during the ride. Food options at stations have also been improved for the resumed Brightline service.
For those of you wondering about the train service, trains will leave hourly from downtown’s MiamiCentral station from 6:48 am to 11:48 pm. For a limited time, one-way ticket prices to Fort Lauderdale will be $10 for SMART service ($15 to West Palm) and $27 for PREMIUM ($37 to West Palm), but passengers who sign up and order through Brightline’s app can get their first ride free through December.