Published On: Wed, Feb 14th, 2018

Brightline Welcomed by Some, Questioned by Others

By: Jack Rubin

Traffic has become as common in South Florida as sunny days and beautiful weather. Floridians are always looking for a way around the infuriating gridlock that they are often confronted with, and they may finally have an answer.

Brightline, a privately owned train service operating on the Florida East Coast railway corridor, launched operations in January. At the moment, the 80 mph trains are only running from Fort Lauderdale directly to West Palm Beach. Services to Miami should be operable soon, according to the company. Eventually, the trains will be able to transport passengers from Miami to Orlando in about three hours.

The primary goal of the railway is to ease traffic on Florida’s roads and highways. Commuters are the target demographic of the intercity service, with amenities such as Wi-Fi, outlets, and coffee offered. Currently, trains are running hourly from 6 a.m. to 8 p.m., taking passengers from Fort Lauderdale to West Palm Beach in 40 minutes. Customers have the affordable option of a $10 basic ticket or a $15 upgrade.

Though most people have welcomed the arrival of a way to travel painlessly from city to city, others have been skeptical of Brightline since the idea launched. Safety concerns were an issue to many. Despite the countless railroad crossing closings Boca residents experienced to make areas fit for the faster trains, safety issues with Brightline blew up in the last month.

Two people were tragically struck by trains in January, leading to some public outcry against the company. Congressman Brian Mast, the representative for Florida’s 18th District, tweeted last week on the matter. Mast was traveling on an Amtrak train that collided with a truck in Virginia and he used the experience as somewhat of a warning in his statement.

“My experience today has only strengthened my resolve to prevent Brightline from creating this dangerous situation in our community,” he wrote.

The 18th District envelops a large area north of West Palm Beach, where the second phase of Brightline would begin. The planned construction would take passengers from West Palm Beach to Orlando.

Brightline has added that they are dedicating more resources to preventing accidents and improving safety. More signage will be present at intersections. The vast majority of those active on social media regarding Brightline vouch for the trains, noting how people must be smarter around the trains.

“These trains move faster than they appear, it is just simply you should not try to beat a train,” Palm Beach transportation planning committee member Keith James said. “If the gates are down and the lights are flashing red this means stop, just like a red light.”

A Brightline train struck a fourth person in Wilton Manors last Thursday. Despite increased safety measures, issues have persisted. Brightline released an official statement on the matter.

“Based on witness reports, this was an intentional act by an individual who laid on the tracks before the train approached. We appreciate the work of our team and first responders who acted quickly to remove him safely.”

South Florida’s newest transportation resource is a very nice one. Although there is no stop in Boca, all South Floridians can find use in these trains. With sixteen planned round trips per day, travel all around the region is made significantly easier.

About the Author

Leave a comment

XHTML: You can use these html tags: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>