Brightline Trains Florida discussion

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blueman271

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When you have a profit to defend, you tend to do your best. Any government funding they've received have been in the form of bonds or tax breaks. If you define those as making a company "public" vs "private", you've about identified every business in the country in some form or another.

Outside of federal/state regulators, Brightline doesn't answer to taxpayers. They answer to shareholders.

I can't think of one thing that the government does better or more efficiently than the public sector - especially in transportation.
I guess the airlines and freight railroads, which are private but have unloaded virtually all their infrastructure costs onto various government, are doing their best.
I’m always amazed at how capitalism in this country means industry gets to keep all the profits and socialize all the losses.
 

Anderson

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Do you think local ridership will prevent full utilization of service to Orlando? IE: Will people be prevented from going to Orlando from MIA because too many people booked those seats between MIA and WPB?
This is a complicated question. I did some deeper analysis either earlier in this monster of a thread or in the other one, and there's a potential "pressure point" between FLL and BOC. The assigned seating situation also creates room for "unintentional breakage" (e.g. some seats will be reserved with a suboptimal configuration of seat selection due to booking/cancellation and so on*).

Having said that, I have also noticed that Brightline is pretty good about hard-blocking "short" space on trains to ensure there's "longer" space. So Brightline will probably block some through space until close to departure.

One thing Brightline might want to consider, if this proves to be an issue, is selling short tickets on the MCO-MIA runs that come with a train reservation at booking but where the seat reservation isn't given until the train leaves Orlando (about two hours before it leaves WPB). Another option would be to let folks agree to involuntary day-of-travel seat changes (with being able to mark off some constraints - single seats in Premium, aisle/window elsewhere) in exchange for a small credit if selected.

*Consider a train going A-B-C with two seats and one passenger for each city pair (1 A-B, 2 B-C, and 3 A-C). Ideally you'd end up with pax 1 and 2 booking in one seat and pax 3 in the other seat...but it's possible to imagine a situation where 1 and 2 end up in different seats and 3 can't get a ticket. This shows up on Amtrak sleepers all the time.

I think they are capable of running on time. Problem is, their on-time is 15 minutes between MIA and WPB and 45 minutes between MIA and MCO longer than they are/were advertising.

As far as the on-board experience goes, I was not comfortable on the train between WPB and FLL. I cannot imagine a 3:45 ride MCO to MIA. Leather may sound luxurious, but as a former business jet interiors engineer, many executives with $50M+ jets prefer cloth over leather because they are more comfortable. Back to trains - even the first class Green Cars in Japan are mostly (if not all) cloth.

Not trying to be a nay-sayer. I love Brightline and its concept. I root for private rail travel in the US and feel it's the only way to get great, reliable, consistent service.
Runtime right now is 3:33-3:38 MCO-MIA (depending on stops in BOC/AVE). In late October this drops to 3:25-3:30. Presuming that this sticks, 3:25 isn't quite as advertised, but it's getting closer, and I'd like to hear if there's some more room for schedule improvements over time (to at least make up for probable additional stations in Cocoa, etc.).

One thing to add, as a question: Does anybody know what the catering is set to be in Premium along the trip? For the most part, on a domestic flight if you're over 3:00 you're getting a meal (the threshold is usually about 900 miles).
 

eldomtom2

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When you have a profit to defend, you tend to do your best. Any government funding they've received have been in the form of bonds or tax breaks. If you define those as making a company "public" vs "private", you've about identified every business in the country in some form or another.

Outside of federal/state regulators, Brightline doesn't answer to taxpayers. They answer to shareholders.

I can't think of one thing that the government does better or more efficiently than the public sector - especially in transportation.
What shareholders want is often not what the public wants.
 

jis

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Moderator's Note: Let us please veer back to discussing Brightline and away from discussing general matters of corporate governance. Further posts on corporate issues and private/public sector will be removed as off topic. Thank you.
 

VentureForth

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By Lily Fu | Source: Brightline​

What’s the big deal? With hand-stitched leather seats, charging ports for every passenger, free Wi-Fi and spacious restrooms, Brightline’s trains offer a welcome alternative to road trips on I-95 and the Florida Turnpike. And with new service to/from Orlando scheduled to launch this month, it’s going to be easier than ever to travel around the state.
To celebrate, Brightline is offering 25% off all adult business-class fares between Orlando and Miami, Aventura, Fort Lauderdale, Boca Raton or West Palm Beach from Sept. 22-Jan. 7. All routes are normally $79 one way or $158 roundtrip; with this discount, however, you’ll travel for $59.25 one way or $118.50. Even better, kids always travel for 50% less.
To book, click ‘View Deal’ below and enter your desired dates to search for tickets. Once you’ve selected your trip(s), click ‘Add a Promo Code’ and enter TRAVELZOO25 (all caps) in the field before clicking ‘Apply” and completing your reservation. On mobile devices, after selecting your train times, scroll down to the bottom and click on the total price to enter in the code.
Book by Sept. 30.


Note: I tried the code with Premium and it did not work. Available for Smart only.

On another note, I noticed that there is quite a bit of dynamic pricing, with one way Smart between $79-99, and Premium between $149-229.
 
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Um, 3:30 to 3:40 Orlando to Miami isn't that bad. Last March, when we drove from Sanford to Miami, it took us six hours. And we were driving 70+ mph whenever we could. So it's about 30 minutes Sanford to Orlando, so that means our Orlando to Miami drive time is 5:30. Three hours 40 minutes sure beats 5 and a half hours. They really don't need to go any faster to be competitive.
 

NES28

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Any rumors as to how soon the additional cars (20?) are expected to arrive from Siemens?
 

cirdan

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Um, 3:30 to 3:40 Orlando to Miami isn't that bad. Last March, when we drove from Sanford to Miami, it took us six hours. And we were driving 70+ mph whenever we could. So it's about 30 minutes Sanford to Orlando, so that means our Orlando to Miami drive time is 5:30. Three hours 40 minutes sure beats 5 and a half hours. They really don't need to go any faster to be competitive.
You are comparing station to station times with door to door times.

I agree that the speed is good enough and that it should be competitive. Also, time spent on a train has a different value to time spend driving. You can use that time more productively or get some rest and recharge your batteries.
 

VentureForth

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You are comparing station to station times with door to door times.

I agree that the speed is good enough and that it should be competitive. Also, time spent on a train has a different value to time spend driving. You can use that time more productively or get some rest and recharge your batteries.
I'm not denying that the time isn't good... but it's not what they advertised. Doing what you say you're going to do is important in this market-share grab against the airlines.

Just like comparing to Amtrak, when you compare driving to trains, the value gets diminished quite quickly as you start adding members to your group. 1 in a car vs 1 in a train, train wins. 2 people, maybe a wash. But when you can start moving 3 to 8 people directly from door to door in one vehicle for a single cost, speed becomes the value-added difference.
 
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I'm not denying that the time isn't good... but it's not what they advertised. Doing what you say you're going to do is important in this market-share grab against the airlines.
They've been promising 2 hour NYP - WAS for decades now, and they still don't have it. Yet Northeast Regional and Acela have certainly grabbed a lot of market share against airlines offering a 45 minute flight between the two cities.
 

frequentflyer

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Will be curious once this line starts and the politicians show up to get there face on TV how much cred this brings to Brightline. How many states will start reaching out to Brightline to do something similar. Can imagine the feds will be more willing and find it more palatable to give Brighline projects more funding than say.....................CAHSR.
 

cirdan

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Doing what you say you're going to do is important in this market-share grab against the airlines.
New train projects do to grab market share from both roads, being a sort of mid-tier offering between the two.

But they also generate their own customers. So it's not just grabbing bits of the pie from competitors but also about growing the pie.

So for example companies could locate their sales offices near one of the stations to cover all the cities that have stations, rather than forcing their agents to drive around everywhere - this would enhance their productivity as the employees could work on the train. People can also start using the train for commutes, thus making it feasible to live in areas that were previously not feasible as the commute would have been too onerous. There would also be huge opportunities for tourism. People generally don't take the plane for day trips (except businessmen maybe) but on a train that sort of thing is quite normal. So tourists doing Miami can easily slot in a day doing the Orlando attractions without having to change hotels.
 

daybeers

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I don't think anyone's debating the opportunity to grab market share, but a 15% increase in travel time above what they originally advertised is substantial. Every minute counts in a competitive market; south Florida is one of the most crowded and competitive travel markets in the country.
 

railiner

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I think that if I was going to try it, I would do it one way, and Amtrak the other...Amtrak senior fare $36. 5 hour 12 minute ride, northbound. Probably a lot more comfortable seat as well.... 🤷‍♂️
 

joelkfla

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I think that if I was going to try it, I would do it one way, and Amtrak the other...Amtrak senior fare $36. 5 hour 12 minute ride, northbound. Probably a lot more comfortable seat as well.... 🤷‍♂️
That doesn't work for a day trip from Orlando, given the Silvers schedule ... unless you get up very early in the morning and immediately turn around on the Silver Star, leaving no time at all to spend in Miami.
 

JamesWhitcombRiley

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When you have a profit to defend, you tend to do your best. Any government funding they've received have been in the form of bonds or tax breaks. If you define those as making a company "public" vs "private", you've about identified every business in the country in some form or another.

Outside of federal/state regulators, Brightline doesn't answer to taxpayers. They answer to shareholders.

I can't think of one thing that the government does better or more efficiently than the public sector - especially in transportation.
Most stations have been paid for by local governments. Miami Dade really wanted Aventura for example. Also a slight correction, BL is private equity, so has bond holders and ownership stakes, not public stock. Aside from the rather large tax-free aspect of the bonds, it seems clear the state gave BL a clear road to leasing rights of way, etc. BL Florida also took small federal grants for railroad safety. When financing became tougher, and Softbank (Japan) deteriorated, two things happened: BL explored partnerships with public commuter/transit rail in South Florida and Orlando; and Softbank sold BL to Mubadala (with US management). I say all this as a BL supporter, more or less! Florida's governor back in the early 2000's was far from the only one to reject Amtrak funding. Even Chris Christie in NJ said Gateway entailed too much obligation - while diverting the money to similarly obligated highways. The question in Florida though has always been who is profiting through land deals or bonds. And the commuter/transit partnerships are a benefit to the public as well as perhaps necessary for growth, given the private need to find money outside the most obvious ridership demands.

You would think Tri-rail covered the territory from Miami to West Palm, but just as I-95 is paralleled by the Turnpike, there's a higher level of service for those who pay more, and just as there are gated communities everywhere, and as in Central Florida homeowner associations controlling most middle class housing. The literal fence between affluence and poverty at the Fort Lauderdale BL (secured by magnetometers) and public bus depot and adjacent distressed sidewalk campers is stark, but hardly felt on the BL side. In other words it's a typical fast-growing area in demographics, but very sunny and brash, and somewhat less forgiving. Constrained by the Everglades (contested though) and the ocean, it's an intensive very long suburban-urban mix.

I don't know if Amtrak or its host railroads would have allowed all the drone video coverage by Roaming Railfan, a very nice level of transparency for the foamers in us. The publicity, such as time-lapse animations, for projects like the Portal Bridge in NJ barely exists. For highway projects, it varies. The Philadelphia highway collapse reconstruction was well publicized, as is the new tunnel between Hampton and Norfolk in Virginia.

Of course basing a railroad around real estate development goes back to the origin of the FEC in South Florida, and, briefly, the Keys. Although Key West had already been the largest settlement in South Florida, when Miami was just a campsite and a few farms. Julia Tuttle in Miami sent her orange blossoms to Henry Flagler during a freeze, the Brickells developed the other side of the river, and an alcohol-free community full of learning and edifying concerts came about, with drinking only allowed in Flagler's hotel. But credit also goes to the Bahamian workers of an earlier generation. In a sense, nothing has changed.

One bit of news out of South Florida, a new aggressive state law is overriding local control of protected areas for more intensive housing, with the Clevelander art deco hotel on Miami Beach likely to face the wrecking ball. For a decade it has been fueling the all-night party scene, barely controlled by public police forces, and now will reap the benefits of demolition. A bizarre version of the transit-oriented development law in California overriding localities. It's not just the U.S. - Irish politics is roiled with housing issues.

Brightline should be seen as healthy competition, not a cudgel against public funding. The frequency is great, for example.
 

Crowbar_k

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railiner

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Of course basing a railroad around real estate development goes back to the origin of the FEC in South Florida, and, briefly, the Keys.
I think it goes back a lot further than that;)....

 

pennyk

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Brightline was the lead story on the local Orlando news at noon today. The report lasted almost 10 minutes.

Edit to add: further in the news, it was reported that a Brightline train from WPB to Miami hit a trespasser in Delray Beach today, which delayed the first train from Miami to Orlando.
 
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joelkfla

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Orlando Sentinel: Brightline trains make history with first Orlando-Miami passenger trips (unlocked)

...a Miami-bound Brightline train exited its station at Orlando’s airport as an accelerating serpent mottled in sherbert colors, slithering by jets and terminals, and getting its day finally to derail a decade of doubters, deniers and detractors. o_O

 
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