by Leo Jakobson | June 22, 2018
The long-awaited Brightline railroad connecting Miami, Fort Lauderdale and West Palm Beach is finally up and running, cutting the travel time and easing the trip dramatically along the I95 corridor. 

Running from Miami to Fort Lauderdale, and Fort Lauderdale to West Palm Beach in about a half hour each leg, the Brightline has a dedicated group services department that can work with planners on everything from group ticketing and pricing through private cars, charter trains, and even private cocktails and hors d'oeuvres. The trains already serve food and beverages anyway.

"Brightline expands the horizons of the experiences available in South Florida by making the three cities a single region," says Patrick Goddard, president and COO of Brightline Management. "You can reasonably go from the Fort Lauderdale Marriott Harbor Beach [near the convention center] to Joe's Stone Crab in Miami for dinner. It's a carefree way to travel around South Florida in a way that I95 makes inconceivable."

The Brightline station is about 15 minutes from the Miami Beach Convention Center, 15 minutes from Fort Lauderdale's Broward County Convention Center, and five minutes from the Palm Beach County Convention Center. The tickets cost $15 from Miami to Fort Lauderdale and $30 from Miami to West Palm Beach. The trains run from 6 a.m. to 11 p.m. 

The stations all have small meeting rooms  basically 12- to 14-person boardrooms  and the train's capacity is 240. A fourth station, Orlando, is about three years away, and at that time trains will grow to about 500 seats, Goddard says. Brightline is looking at putting a station in at the Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport, and ultimately would like to connect all three airports, he adds. 

"There is not really another comparable service," Goddard adds. "This is the first private passenger train in the United States in more than 100 years. It was conceived by a hospitality team. We understand how to work with groups."