The new Florida intercity passenger rail system is called the Brightline, but I would have called it the Sunshine Express. Just my opinion, however I did live in the Sunshine State for most of my 20s and I just don’t get “Brightline”; it sounds like a brand of toothpaste, or maybe lens for eyeglasses. Anyway, the first privately funded passenger rail service to launch in the U.S. for at least a century will begin operation this summer. The initial route will only offer express trains on the Miami, Fort Lauderdale, and West Palm Beach line.
With stations situated in downtowns, Brightline will reduce the often brutal 2 to 3 hour drive from Miami to West Palm Beach from 2 or 3 hours to under 1 hour. Eventually, they hope to run express trains to Orlando, Tampa, and Jacksonville too. All Aboard Florida, the company that operates Brightline, is planning to subsidize the rail service by creating large scale retail and residential properties around the train station hubs.
As a onetime Floridian, I have my doubts about the potential ridership on this initial line. I could see Miami-Fort Lauderdale to Orlando as a more popular route. And, Florida residents do love their cars. It’s a big state and driving long distances is second nature to locals and snowbirds alike. But, I may be wrong, between the large senior citizen population, huge numbers of tourists, and significant university students, this new rail service might just work.