The Brightline is finally coming to Orlando, and SoFlo could not be more excited!
The Orlando Brightline, which is an inter-city rail line located within the Orlando International Airport, will connect the ‘City Beautiful’ to multiple stops in the Miami area. Traveling at an advertised speed of 125 miles per hour, the Brightline will take passengers between the two cities in just over three hours. Keep in mind that this is three hours without the worries of traffic or congestion! No need to worry about tolls or the occasional tailgater, it’s travel at its simplest and most convenient. Currently, an opening date is scheduled for the second quarter of 2023, which means we can expect to see the train begin beaming around Southern and Central Florida somewhere between April and June.
Brightline already has stops connecting the cities of West Palm Beach, Miami, Aventura, Boca Raton, and Fort Lauderdale. Their website shows off the plans for another expansion that adds a stop in Tampa. Hopefully, with more stops added to the northern cities of the states, it could be totally possible to vacation across Florida without a car!
More than just saving travelers from sitting in traffic, though, the Brightline can also bring more visitors to the Sunshine State, boost the Floridian economy, and make traveling more accessible to both residents and tourists. With the construction of the Orlando Brightline, the company’s website boasts the creation of more than 12,000 jobs and an extra $2.4 billion dollars in labor income.
The Brighline also aims to shake up how we see train travel nowadays, by both working and looking the part. Similar to your typical airplane flight, there are two classes of service for Brightline users: Smart and Premium. Guests who splurge for Premium will have access to complimentary drinks, cocktails, snacks, Uber rides, pre-boarding, and a private lounge aboard the train. Smart level guests will have unlimited distance Uber access, a Smart lounge, and a children’s play area.
The Brightline also considers the anxieties of a modern world, providing a safe and accessible environment for all passengers. For guests who want a more contactless experience, there will be self-service kiosks to buy your tickets alongside traditional guest services counters as well as contactless turnstiles that lead to the security area. Similar to TSA, Brightline security screens all passengers and luggage before boarding. Fun fact: Brightline is currently the only rail system in America that screens all its passengers and luggage.
Just as important, however, travelers with mobility issues or who use wheelchairs won’t have their vacation ruined by inaccessible traveling options. The Brightline is the first fully wheelchair-accessible train in America, with its multiple elevators and large, open, 32-inch aisles aboard the train. For comparison, the average airplane only has about 20 inches of aisle space. The platforms where passengers board the train have also been upgraded to be more accessible to wheelchair users and people with mobility issues. Level-boarding and retractable ramps make for a smooth boarding experience for all guests.
My favorite part of the Brightline coming to Orlando, though, is how committed to the environment the rail line is. Some of the eco-friendly decisions Brightline has taken with their trains include the use of clean biodiesel, moves towards electric power, and reducing the carbon footprint that would have been caused by driving a car. The complimentary shuttles and shared vans are eco-friendly, with some of their cars being electric vehicles. Even the snacks and drinks aboard are environmentally friendly, packaged in recyclable material rather than plastic. By taking the Brightline over a car, or any train for that matter, passengers will be helping heal the planet.
As an Orlando resident but a die-hard Miami native, I could not be more excited for this summer when Orlando connects to the rest of South Florida. The Brightline is shaping up to be a great addition to the City Beautiful, bringing in tourism, eco-friendliness, accessibility, and ease.