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How to ride and save on Miami’s Brightline train

Brightline’s trains leave almost hourly seven days a week and connect downtown Miami, Fort Lauderdale and West Palm Beach. The line is poised to add stops in Aventura and Boca Raton this year and to serve Orlando International Airport in 2023.

The private rail puts an emphasis on a pleasant experience for patrons and offers a variety of incentives for first-time riders to try the train.

“The main thing that sets us apart is that we are taking you somewhere fast ‘car free and care free’ in a convenient, comfortable, relaxed way,” said Vanessa Alfonso, Brightline director of media relations. “You get that time back. Ultimately, you are also doing something for the environment.”

 

A red-striped train at the station.

Passengers board a Bright Red Smart car at the West Palm Beach Brightline station. Photo: Carolyn DiPaolo

The train is fancier than Tri-Rail, and it costs more. You might even call Brightline a luxury train. But there are ways to save money and enjoy the ride.

Disclosure: I’m a big fan of public transportation and a huge fan of Brightline. I’ve taken Tri-Rail to a World Series game and to catch an international flight. I rode on Brightline the day it opened from West Palm Beach to Fort Lauderdale in 2018. And I have taken Brightline to concerts, museums and Miami Marlins games.

The joy of getting out of my car and traveling among my fellow South Floridians and visitors makes it worth it to me to economize elsewhere to free funds to take the train.

I’ll explain how you can save money on parking, bypass the full cost of a Lyft or Uber to and from the station and score a deal on the fare.

Here’s how to get the most out of Brightline:

How to book a Brightline ticket

There are three ways to book a ticket:

  1. You can purchase a one-way or roundtrip ticket online at GoBrightline.com
  2. By downloading the Brightline app
  3. Or you can walk up to the station and pay your fare before you get on the train.

Fares start at $10 one way from Miami to Fort Lauderdale and Fort Lauderdale to West Palm Beach. A roundtrip from Miami to West Palm Beach can be as low as $30.

Tri-Rail offers $5 fares on the weekends.

Brightline, like airlines, has variable pricing for its tickets based on demand. You can save by booking early or by choosing a trip outside of the weekday rush hour, for example.

 

Decorative Brightline sign in white and yellow.

There are plenty of photo stops at South Florida’s Brightline stations. Photo: Carolyn DiPaolo

There are good reasons to create a profile online at GoBrightline.com or download the Brightline app. Your passenger information will be saved, and you may be able to enter a code to obtain a discount.

Before you book, search online to see whether Brightline is offering a promotional fare. As of this writing, SUMMER15 will get you 15 percent off many fares.

Kids ride for $5 with a paying adult until Sept. 30, 2022. And check the Brightline site for an offer of complimentary admission to South Florida attractions including the Miami Children’s Museum, the Frost Museum of Science, the Museum of Discovery and Science, and the Palm Beach Zoo.

There are two levels of service on Brightline. Smart service will get you passage on a clean, fast train, free WiFi, access to a cash bar and snacks at the station and a chance to buy refreshments on board.

Select, or premium, service grants the rider access to the same amenities, plus:

a free Tesla ride to and from locations within five miles of the station when booked in advance
a premium lounge waiting area with free snacks and drinks
a train car with wider seats
and complimentary snacks and beverages on the train.

Premium fares from Miami to Fort Lauderdale and Fort Lauderdale to West Palm Beach start at $17. A roundtrip on the top-of-the-line from Miami to West Palm Beach costs $74 and up.

You can also save money on parking at all three Brightline stations by booking in advance online or through the Brightline app. It’s $15 a day if you pay at the Brightline garage. But it’s only $5 if you pay when booking.

A yellow shuttle van with the Brightline brand parked at the station.

A Brightline shuttle can take passengers to and from locations within 5 miles of the station. Photo: Carolyn DiPaolo

First mile/last mile

New in 2022 is Brightline+, which offers riders service from their home, office or event venue to the Brightline station. Here is how it works:

Within 5 miles of the station, Brightline will pick up standard, or Smart, service passengers who book the Brightline+ service in advance for a flat fee of $5 per person for a shared ride to or from the station.

Premium fare passengers can get a complimentary ride from within 5 miles when they book a private Tesla.

Request the ride when you book a fare online or in the Brightline app. You can choose how much time you want to have at the station before the train departs: 15 minutes, 30 minutes or more.

Those reserved rides can fill up so secure that reservation as soon as you know your plans. Be sure to book a scheduled ride at least two hours before the train.

On the day of your trip, Brightline+ passengers will receive a text reminder about their ride to the station. Then, when the driver is on the way to your location, you will receive another text with a link that allows you to track his or her route to you. It’s like the map in a Lyft or Uber app. You will also be able to call the driver if necessary.

While I was on a Brightline excursion in August 2022, the shuttle driver told me his guidance is to wait eight minutes for a passenger to come out to the shuttle before moving on. Bring some cash to tip your driver.

Brightline’s shuttle fleet includes handicapped-accessible vehicles.

Tri-Rail offers free shuttle, taxi and Uber rides to and from most stations.

Brightline also offers all of its passengers free walk-up shuttle rides from its stations to select locations. No reservation is required, and rides are first-come, first-served. I took Brightline this year to Miami to see a Wednesday afternoon Padres-Marlins game. Waiting at the Miami Brightline station was a massive bus that easily accommodated me and my fellow baseball fans.

Passengers boarding large bus.

A cool, comfortable motor coach waits to whisk Brightline passengers to Marlins Park. Photo: Carolyn DiPaolo

The staff was also super-helpful in passing out a small paper copy of a map that showed where I needed to be after the game to catch the bus back to the station. During Marlins home games, shuttles start their return to the Miami station two hours after the first pitch and depart every 30 minutes until 30 minutes after the last pitch.

Brightline provides walk-up shuttle service to these attractions and venues:

Miami station to:

Miami Beach

The Port of Miami

Miami International Airport

Miami Marlins home games

Fort Lauderdale station to:

The beach

Port Everglades

Fort Lauderdale International Airport

West Palm Beach station to:

Palm Beach International Airport

Important note: A Brightline shuttle is available to take you to MIA, FLL or PBIA, but the train line does not yet have shuttle service to pick you up from the airports and take you to its stations. You will need to arrange other transportation when you want to catch a train after arriving at a South Florida airport.

Were you unable to book a shared ride from the station, are you going someplace besides the airport, a ballgame or the beach? Look for the zippy Brightline-branded EV golf-carts when you leave the station. The driver can give you a free ride to locations within 3 miles of the station.

Brightline is also leveraging the wide variety of things to do in South Florida to draw event goers to its trains. For example: It offers a walk-up free ride to select concerts at the iThink Financial Amphitheater 10 miles west of the West Palm Beach Station.

Concert shuttles depart from the West Palm Beach Station five minutes after trains arrive at the station and drop you off at the front entrance of the venue. Shuttles to the shows run from 6:05 pm to 8:05 pm, according to Brightline’s website. Look for the Concert Shuttle icon during booking to find a train and shuttle.

“Those are really great because when you are coming down by car for an event, the traffic is terrible, the parking is expensive, and you have to walk a long distance,” Alfonso said.

When the Miami Heat are playing, Brightline typically offers a Buzzer Beater train to transport riders home after the final play.

What to expect at the Brightline station

The Miami Brightline station is at 600 NW 1st Ave, Miami, FL 33136

The Fort Lauderdale Brightline station is at 101 NW 2nd Ave, Fort Lauderdale, FL 33311

The West Palm Beach Brightline station is at 501 Evernia St, West Palm Beach, FL 33401

Plan to be inside the station at least 15 minutes before your train is scheduled to leave. Brightline trains leave right on time, and boarding closes four minutes before departure.

Brightline stations all have a similar streamline design. You’ll enter and notice a distinctive Brightline citrus-clean scent.

If you have not yet purchased a ticket, locate the walk-up ticket station. A Brightline staff member is stationed nearby to help you navigate a purchase.

You’ll ride an escalator up to the entrance kiosks. Put your paper ticket or phone on the glass to open the gate and enter. You’ll pass through a quick security screen and enter the waiting area.

In the passenger waiting area you will find plenty of seating, clean restrooms and a cashless bar and snack shop. 

Boarding begins about 10 minutes before train departure. You’ll take an escalator down to the train platform and find your seat on one of four Brightline train cars.

Fort Lauderdale is a little different than West Palm Beach and Miami: Because the train stops there for only about five minutes, passengers are guided down to the platform before the train arrives and then are swiftly ushered aboard.

Questions?

Brightline’s focus on the rider experience extends to its customer service. You can find a variety of ways to get in touch with the rail line.

Or dial 831-539-2901 to get in-person help from 9 am to 6 pm ET.

Other ways to save

Planning to take the train daily?

Brightline offers monthly and annual passes. The monthly one-stop fare in a Smart coach is $199. Brightline’s Alfonso notes that if you take the train five days a week for work, you are getting a ticket for as low as $7.

And there are no blackout dates.

Riding with a group?

Parties up to 16 passengers can save 15 percent.

Alfonso pointed out one thing you may notice during a Brightline trip, “It’s such a great experience. You really see people so happy.”

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