When travelling between West Palm Beach and Miami, you can choose between the Tri Rail and the Brightline.
The Tri Rail fare is generally around $6-7 but the journey takes from 1.5-2.5 hours while the Brightline takes about an hour. A Brightline fare can range between $18-$30. (or more if you choose Select Class). This is because the Tri Rail operates slower trains and stops at numerous stations, while the Brightline is an express service that runs on a separate line and has it’s own stations.
Opulence Returning to Rail Travel
Brightline feels just a little like the modern equivalent to the opulence of Florida rail travel in the late 1800’s. Built by tycoon Henry Flagler, the Florida East Coast Railway opened Florida up to the rich and influential of America. They would travel down in private carriages from their residences in the northern states to escape the cold of Winter. Connecting places like St Augustine, West Palm Beach and Key West, the influence of Flagler’s venture can still be seen today. Not far from the West Palm Beach Brightline station, you’ll the find Flagler Museum in Henry Flagler’s Gilded Estate, Whitehall.
Though you won’t get your own private carriage, the Brightline offers business and first class style travel. Maybe someday, we will see it extend the length of Florida’s East Coast.
Riding the Brightline is a bit like catching a plane. There are two classes onboard the Brightline.
Smart class is their base option which still includes free WiFi at the station and onboard the train but you will pay extra for dining options. They will give you a free bottle of water if you ask for it.
The Select Class is Brightline’s version of First Class. You’ll get everything in Smart Class, plus nicer seating, access to the Select lounge at the station prior to boarding and complimentary dining onboard.
Regardless of class you’ll enjoy Brightline’s super clean stations. There are plenty of outlets to charge your devices and free WiFi. Everything is brand new.
We travelled Smart Class to catch our Norwegian Cruise out of Miami. We accidently arrived at the wrong time which meant they charged us extra for rebooking. It’s important to make sure you double check the time that you are booked for. If you are parking at the station there is also a charge for that, so we had a friend drop us off.
Ultimately, we really enjoyed our experience, but I would say it is overpriced for such a short train ride. I understand that they are aiming to meet the needs of the affluent in West Palm Beach, but I think value for money remains important. Either way, it is worth taking at least once for the experience.
Have you taken a ride on the Brightline? What was your experience?