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Figuring out how much it will cost to ride South Florida’s new higher-speed train won’t be easy.
Fares could vary depending on time of day and demand, a Brightline executive hinted Friday.
“Pricing won’t be an issue,” said President and Chief Operating Officer Patrick Goddard. “It’s going to evolve over time as we determine what peak [travel] times are.”
Goddard spoke during a demonstration run between Fort Lauderdale and West Palm Beach, a day before the long-awaited rail line begins service for the public.
Brightline initially will travel between those two cities, with service to Miami in coming months. Service to Orlando is planned by late 2020.
The privately financed business has never said how much tickets will cost, but discounted tickets are available now. One-way tickets cost $10 in the 66-seat Smart Coaches and $15 each way in the roomier 50-seat Select Coaches. Children 12 and under ride for half price. Seniors, active military and veterans get 10 percent discounts. There’s also a promotion to buy one ticket and bring a friend for free.
Officials would not say how long these introductory fares will last or what tickets will cost when regular service begins.
People who were invited for Brightline’s inaugural run Friday were impressed.
“It feels like Christmas morning to see something like this come about that’s really needed here in South Florida,” said Congressman Bill Shuster, R-Pa., chairman of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee. “This is going to take thousands of people off the roadway. It’s going to make their commute much quicker, comfortable, and safe.”The pu
The public seems interested, too. Brightline’s ticket reservation website, gobrightline.com, froze a couple of times after launching Thursday. Officials blamed the glitches on an overwhelming demand for tickets.
The train made the trip from Fort Lauderdale to West Palm in 35 to 40 minutes at a top speed of 79 mph on Friday. Officials said it would normally take 30 minutes, but the train slowed down when going through a construction zone near the tracks just north of the Fort Lauderdale station at 101 NW 2nd Ave.
The ride was smooth with minimal rocking inside the train even at top speed on a curving track near Pompano Beach. The coaches were almost sound-proof.
It was noisier on the outside of the train as the engineer was required by federal law to blast the horn four times at each of the dozens of railroad crossings along the Florida East Coast Railway tracks between Fort Lauderdale and West Palm Beach.
But, that should end this summer when safety modifications are completed to prevent pedestrians and vehicles from crossing the tracks when a train is coming. That would silence all train horns, according Greg Stuart, executive director of the Broward County Metropolitan Planning Organization.
“I’m pushing to get it done by late May,” Stuart said. “But, our friends at Brightline say they might not be done until June.”
Residents who live near the tracks have complained about delays in establishing the so-called Quiet Zones and fear there will be more frequent noise when Brightline trains ramp up to 16 round trips per day.
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