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Front Page » Top Stories » Brightline might bypass five new rail platforms

Brightline might bypass five new rail platforms

Written by on July 21, 2020
Brightline might bypass five new rail platforms

New commuter rail in Northeast Miami-Dade would have up to five new platforms along Florida East Coast Industries’ line between downtown and an upcoming Aventura station but FECI’s Brightline won’t necessarily stop at any of them, a company executive says. 

After local government committed five years ago to bringing Tri-Rail downtown, FECI Senior Vice President Jose Gonzalez also told Miami’s Downtown Development Authority board in a virtual meeting Friday that the service might roll into the city on FECI tracks by next year.

The proposed commuter platforms would be on FECI’s line between Virgin MiamiCentral station downtown and an upcoming Aventura station, at both of which the commuter line would connect to Brightline, Mr. Gonzalez said. The commuter line stops would be in Wynwood, the Design District, Upper East Side, North Miami and the FIU Biscayne Bay campus.

“Our goal again is to expand and connect as many modes of transit as possible and in places where east-west feeders can actually work very well,” he said.

The county would pick the commuter operator, he said, whether it’s Tri-Rail, the county itself or another entity.

Mr. Gonzalez said Brightline will bring the county commission a memorandum of understanding next month. The two parties still must agree on funding for capital improvements and operations. In June, the commission directed Mayor Carlos Giménez to negotiate with Brightline and bring back a proposal.

DDA Chairman Manolo Reyes commended the project and asked how the locations would be determined. Mr. Gonzalez responded that the sites had been pulled from a study and either have significant population or potential for population growth. However, he said, elected officials and stakeholders would determine the actual sites.

Miami-Dade Commissioner Eileen Higgins said the county would work to adapt existing bus lines to feed passengers to the platforms.

“If we are able to put these great new platforms in place quickly, we would adapt those routes to make sure they have good connectivity with the commuter rail,” she said.

She also said that because the tracks, the most expensive piece of rail systems, already exist, the project could attract federal funding, including from the Federal Railroad Administration.

However, several members asked when Tri-Rail could come into downtown. Marta Viciedo, founder of nonprofit Transit Alliance, said that if Mr. Gonzalez is requesting authority support, there is also need to address the Tri-Rail link. The authority has supported Tri-Rail’s entry into downtown.

Mr. Gonzalez said Brightline continues to work with Tri-Rail, with only federally-mandated safety measure positive train control pending, but expects to be done by year’s end. He said FECI has made its system more user-friendly, so Tri-Rail won’t require adaptation to use its corridor.

He said that after the system is installed, the Federal Railroad Administration will test it in the first quarter of 2021, and then Tri-Rail will be able to enter downtown.

In 2015, the county, City of Miami and Tri-Rail committed to investing nearly $70 million to fund 26 trains and nine miles of rail infrastructure to bring service to downtown. Tri-Rail’s commuter service would offer about 20 stops from downtown to Palm Beach County.

Brightline suspended service March 25 and has laid off at least 250 of its more than 300 employees.

16 Responses to Brightline might bypass five new rail platforms

  1. Michael

    July 22, 2020 at 8:17 am

    It would be really something if there was a non-stop fast train from downtown Miami to Orlando.

    • Daniel

      July 22, 2020 at 8:59 pm

      That is what is currently being built. Service already runs from downtown Miami to Palm Beach. The stretch from Palm Beach to Orlando is slated to be completed in a few years; I believe around 2022.

      • Michael

        July 23, 2020 at 11:13 am

        Phase II is programmed, but what I mean is an express train that wouldn’t stop at Fort Lauderdale and WPB. That would be much more direct competition for air.

  2. Trevor

    July 22, 2020 at 5:04 pm

    Please make this happen!!! Brightline is the biggest joke! Let tri rail use there tracks especially with virgin/brightline not planning on opening soon!!! Tri rail lets goooooo

  3. Irvine Green

    July 22, 2020 at 8:41 pm

    A nonstop Miami-Orlando will be an excellent idea but let us know of any plans for local service to Fort Pierce. The Fort Pierce-Port St.Lucie area is in desperate need of commuter rail service. Please keep me abreast on this issue, Thanks, Irvine

    • Michael

      July 23, 2020 at 11:23 am

      Fort Pierce has a plan from a charrette that was conducted by Treasure Coast RPC. They’re very good at that. In order for premium transit to succeed there, it’s important to implement the recommendations from that plan, including high-density, mixed-use development.

      • Rick N

        September 27, 2020 at 1:05 pm

        not good enough not stop in Ft Pierce or Port St Lucie, we loose again

  4. Maria

    July 22, 2020 at 10:38 pm

    A stop at PGA & Stuart would help with congestion on 95

    • Hugo

      July 25, 2020 at 9:58 am

      Stuart has not shown strong interest. Its county government had sued to prevent Brightline from coming through.

  5. Common sents

    July 23, 2020 at 6:18 am

    It will never be fast or cheap, it has bin Florida’s fallie Since its conception, we have a train system call the Tri rail why not improve that instead fo dumping a lot of money on something brand new that no one asked for That does the same exact thing that tri rail does……

    • Steven Crosmer

      August 13, 2020 at 5:07 pm

      You’re comparing apples to oranges. Read My comments below and those by Robert Mann. That’s like saying both motorcycles and bicycles should be able to use the bike path; both are different technologies, and therefore, the later does not belong on the bike path.

  6. Steve Crosmer

    July 25, 2020 at 2:01 am

    The sooner either gets built and running the better. I hate paying for parking and paying for tolls. FDOT has a bunch of thugs managing the SunPass toll systems. No toll lanes on I-4 to Tampa! Former Governor Jeb Bush designated that median right-of-way for a high-speed rail line. Former Governor Rick Scott, our toll road troll, unilaterally terminated the project with no public comment or hearings from the general public. With traffic rates down, all toll road projects should be cancelled. Brightline is privately funded, and should be allowed to proceed. Toll roads and toll lane projects should be subject to the same scrutiny as other public transportation projects.

  7. Lemon City

    July 26, 2020 at 4:30 pm

    We need the Lemon City Train Station to be returned. It was on what is now NE 60th Street and 4th Avenue. Lemon City should be a local stop.

    • Michael

      July 27, 2020 at 10:39 am

      Tri-Rail is planned to run through that general area. It would be interesting to have a station there with Haitian architecture.

      • Steve Crosmer

        July 30, 2020 at 5:39 pm

        Just because Tri-Rail and Brightline run on the same tracks, does not necessarily mean that both trains can make the stops at the same stations.
        Brightline has trains that require hi-level platforms and they also require going through a security check prior to boarding. Tri-rail trains have low-level boarding platforms and trains, and do not require going through a security barrier.
        It is possible that stations could serve both trains, but will have to use separate platforms based on the train’s design and security needs. A Brightline train cannot use a Tri-rail station because the platform is not high enough, and conversely a Tri-Rail train cannot use a Brightline station platform because the platforms are raised up higher for security reasons.
        The only way a Brightline train could add the local Tri-rail stations as a stop would be if there were a couple of raised platforms built along with a security booth passengers would have to go through before boarding trains.
        Sharing the tracks is not a bad idea, but extra money will have to spent to build platforms to accommodate both train technologies. The problem with adding Brightline Train stops at Tri-rail stations will degrade the time quality standards Brightline is trying to meet to provide higher-speed train service.If so, then the line should be quadruple-tracked like the subway system in New York, where Brightline trains which are faster, like subway express lines, take the inside center pair of tracks, and have the Tri-rail commuter trains run on the two outer track like subway locals that make all local stops do.

  8. Robert Mann

    August 10, 2020 at 8:38 pm

    Unfortunately, the media and as a direct result, the general public has no idea what Intercity Rail, Commuter Rail, Light Rail or Heavy Rail is. I have seen supposedly informed media call it all of these things. Of course Brightline is going to skip the commuter platforms, it is not designed to serve that market. Does Greyhound stop at your corner Metrobus stop? Non-Stop Trains? Really? A station stop generally consumes just 7 minutes of schedule time. No need to descend from 30,000 feet, taxi to a terminal and await the jetway connection then, taxi out, await a runway, take off and ascend back to 30,000 feet. In fact in that amount of time the train will be ½ way to Orlando. Add Daytona Beach, Jacksonville, Disney, Lakeland, Tampa, Valdosta, Macon, Atlanta, and a few intermediate stops and there will be no end to the possibilities… but commuter platforms are not one of them.