Author Topic: Brightline ready to expand rail system to Tampa  (Read 222585 times)

marcuscnelson

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Re: Brightline ready to expand rail system to Tampa
« Reply #435 on: May 17, 2023, 10:30:36 AM »
Brightline launched some ticket sales to Orlando this morning. As of now, this only includes trips beginning September 1st, but they are suggesting that tickets for sooner trips will become available once they settle on a launch date this summer.
So, to the young people fighting in this movement for change, here is my charge: march in the streets, protest, run for school committee or city council or the state legislature. And win. - Ed Markey

marcuscnelson

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Re: Brightline ready to expand rail system to Tampa
« Reply #436 on: September 13, 2023, 09:50:34 AM »
After a number of last-minute delays, Brightline finally announced this morning that service to Orlando would begin September 22nd, the last day of summer.
So, to the young people fighting in this movement for change, here is my charge: march in the streets, protest, run for school committee or city council or the state legislature. And win. - Ed Markey

thelakelander

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Re: Brightline ready to expand rail system to Tampa
« Reply #437 on: September 13, 2023, 11:06:20 AM »
Finally!
"A man who views the world the same at 50 as he did at 20 has wasted 30 years of his life.” - Muhammad Ali

WAJAS

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Re: Brightline ready to expand rail system to Tampa
« Reply #438 on: September 17, 2023, 04:23:45 PM »
What a time to be alive when Florida has frequent regional passenger rail service.

The non-stop service they've mentioned in the past isn't in this schedule, so the journey is like 3hrs 30mins instead of 2hr 50mins. Every other train passes Boca Raton, but otherwise they hit every stop.

https://www.gobrightline.com/train-stations/fl/train-schedules
« Last Edit: September 17, 2023, 04:27:48 PM by WAJAS »

marcuscnelson

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Re: Brightline ready to expand rail system to Tampa
« Reply #439 on: September 22, 2023, 09:28:27 PM »
Brightline launched passenger service to Orlando this morning. After four years of construction and $2.8 billion invested, trains are now running regularly between Central and South Florida.
So, to the young people fighting in this movement for change, here is my charge: march in the streets, protest, run for school committee or city council or the state legislature. And win. - Ed Markey

Ken_FSU

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Re: Brightline ready to expand rail system to Tampa
« Reply #440 on: September 23, 2023, 10:07:59 PM »
Are the ticket prices a surprise?

Maybe it’s my own ignorance about commuter rail economics and years of using mostly regional intra-city train/subway systems, but I always imagined Brightline/Florida Commuter Rail as being a more affordable alternative to flying. Like a family in South Florida hopping on Brightline to visit Disney World for the weekend buys $25 train tickets to Orlando. But it’s $160 plus tax for a single round trip ticket between Orlando and Miami. $400 for a family of four. That’s more expensive than flying for a couple, and only about 30 minutes quicker than driving. Who do we imagine the target audience is for a $160 train ticket from Orlando to Miami? What incentive does a family visiting Orlando on vacation have to buy $400 in train tickets to Miami to see the beach vs spending $100 to rent a car?

Does Brightline even make sense for Jacksonville at luxury fares?

Loved the idea thinking it would be priced like the Long Island Railroad. Hop a $30 train into Orlando for the day. Can’t imagine a universe though where it would be successful at these prices locally. 

Follow-up question:

For the proposed/hypothetical First Coast Commuter Rail (40 miles between Jax and St. Augustine), what do you guys guess the fares would look like? I love the idea in concept, as it would potentially help alleviate congestion and provide a more environmentally responsible way to travel between the cities, but if the fares were like $40+, I don't think I could support it. It just wouldn't be equitable.

To me, the dream of mass public transit is more about providing equal opportunity and access to all (even if it requires subsidy), and less about providing a kitschy alternative to the well-to-do. Love the idea of public transportation providing equal opportunity for all socioeconomic groups to have access to job centers, hate the idea of using public dollars to provide a fastpass for the upper class.
« Last Edit: September 23, 2023, 11:42:55 PM by Ken_FSU »

jaxlongtimer

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Re: Brightline ready to expand rail system to Tampa
« Reply #441 on: September 24, 2023, 01:47:37 AM »
^ I am guessing Brightline's #1 audience is the corporate traveler who doesn't want the hassle of today's airports (plus, it doesn't really make sense to fly between Miami and Orlando) and can work in nice accommodations while someone else "drives."  0n a train, they probably can work most of the time they are in transit.  They can justify the fare based on the value of their time (taken to an extreme, the justification, in part, for far more expensive corporate jets for some).

I also know many business road warriors that will book a morning flight from, say, Atlanta, Charlotte, Miami or even further away to Jax and return after being here for only 2 to 3 hours so they can be back with their families.  If Brightline can reliably do that, they will probably attract a good chunk of business travelers.

The many international travelers to Miami and Orlando may also not feel comfortable driving here and, given how much they dropped to make it here, the train fare may not phase them much. 

Finally, single travelers may be more inclined to use the train since they are not spreading the cost of a rental car over several people.

Maybe Brightline will discount on holidays and weekends when they might see a drop off due to business travelers not travelling much on those days.  I would expect them to tweak fares as travel patterns become more obvious.

Does Brightline have more than one class of service?  That could also help sort out demand.

thelakelander

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Re: Brightline ready to expand rail system to Tampa
« Reply #442 on: September 24, 2023, 08:43:53 AM »
Are the ticket prices a surprise?

Maybe it’s my own ignorance about commuter rail economics and years of using mostly regional intra-city train/subway systems, but I always imagined Brightline/Florida Commuter Rail as being a more affordable alternative to flying. Like a family in South Florida hopping on Brightline to visit Disney World for the weekend buys $25 train tickets to Orlando. But it’s $160 plus tax for a single round trip ticket between Orlando and Miami. $400 for a family of four. That’s more expensive than flying for a couple, and only about 30 minutes quicker than driving. Who do we imagine the target audience is for a $160 train ticket from Orlando to Miami? What incentive does a family visiting Orlando on vacation have to buy $400 in train tickets to Miami to see the beach vs spending $100 to rent a car?

No, the prices from Orlando to Miami aren't surprising to me. I don't consider that intercity distance to be commuting. This is an upscale intercity passenger rail service that can compete with flying (it will cost you a lot more roundtrip to fly per person....especially at the last minute). You can find a "deal" on Delta to fly roundtrip between Orlando and Miami for $172pp right now....if you book a week in advance. You'll still need to rent a car or ride share, you'll need to show up at the airports 2 hours in advance and it will take you a good hour to get out of both of them. From that perspective, its very comparable to flying at that distance. So I'd say it's more tourist and business travel oriented than for the average everyday commuter.

However, the commuting comparable would be paying $6.50 each way to go from Aventura to Miami or $10 each way to go from West Palm Beach to Ft Lauderdale. This is where a premium intercity rail service could possibly become a factor in local commuter use.


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Does Brightline even make sense for Jacksonville at luxury fares?

When looking at intercity rail connections, the system becomes more important than just a direct connection from end point to end point. The most significant benefit comes with the additional of the in between stops and trip possibilities. $20 roundtrip on Amtrak to go from Palatka to Jacksonville. That's getting more inline with the Miami-Aventura, West Palm Beach-Fort Lauderdale fare structure. If Brightline ever comes to Jax, we should be angling for stops in our region outside of downtown Jax, like St. Augustine. That's where we benefit the most, more so then being able to jump on a train to Miami or Orlando. 


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Loved the idea thinking it would be priced like the Long Island Railroad. Hop a $30 train into Orlando for the day. Can’t imagine a universe though where it would be successful at these prices locally.

It's 115 miles between Penn Station and Montauk (which is very large for commuter rail). It's 230 miles between Orlando's airport and Downtown Miami. They are two different types of passenger rail service. Long Island Railroad is commuter rail. Brightline is intercity...a premium rail service at that.

Quote
Follow-up question:

For the proposed/hypothetical First Coast Commuter Rail (40 miles between Jax and St. Augustine), what do you guys guess the fares would look like? I love the idea in concept, as it would potentially help alleviate congestion and provide a more environmentally responsible way to travel between the cities, but if the fares were like $40+, I don't think I could support it. It just wouldn't be equitable.

I don't ever see JTA being able to get commuter rail off the ground here. Just being realistic. That's a fool's gold dream. We can't even rely on them getting Amtrak back downtown at the moment. We've been talking about moving Amtrak back since the 1990s and talking about commuter rail for +15 years now and we're still no closer than we were back then. But you can look to SunRail and Tri-Rail commuter rail systems for potential comparable fare structures. The fare would be dependent on the amount of zones/counties being traveled.

https://sunrail.com/tickets-suncards/tickets/

https://www.tri-rail.com/pages/view/fare-information-calculating-your-fare

Quote
To me, the dream of mass public transit is more about providing equal opportunity and access to all (even if it requires subsidy), and less about providing a kitschy alternative to the well-to-do. Love the idea of public transportation providing equal opportunity for all socioeconomic groups to have access to job centers, hate the idea of using public dollars to provide a fastpass for the upper class.

I agree, however I do believe that accomplishing requires a view of transit from a holistic perspective, then honing in on a single, privately operated premium service's pricing structure from end point to end point.

One of my biggest gripes with the mass transit conversations in Jacksonville has been our lack of explaining to the public how a regional transit system would/should work in Northeast Florida, along with what type of technologies and services will work best for our region, given our demographics, population densities, infrastructure, commuting patterns, etc.

So much focus has been on the Skyway/U2C, we fail to realize that it and every other potential replacement technology will struggle with ridership without a real, coordinated effort to seamlessly tie all the different types of services together.

The Brightlines and Amtraks have their important intercity roles to play. We just have the benefit of going hybrid with some of these projects via intentional coordination and placement of additional stops within our metropolitan area, as an alternative to relying on JTA to do something it has not proven it can deliver.
« Last Edit: September 24, 2023, 08:58:16 AM by thelakelander »
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thelakelander

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Re: Brightline ready to expand rail system to Tampa
« Reply #443 on: September 24, 2023, 08:50:56 AM »
^ I am guessing Brightline's #1 audience is the corporate traveler who doesn't want the hassle of today's airports (plus, it doesn't really make sense to fly between Miami and Orlando) and can work in nice accommodations while someone else "drives."  0n a train, they probably can work most of the time they are in transit.  They can justify the fare based on the value of their time (taken to an extreme, the justification, in part, for far more expensive corporate jets for some).

I also know many business road warriors that will book a morning flight from, say, Atlanta, Charlotte, Miami or even further away to Jax and return after being here for only 2 to 3 hours so they can be back with their families.  If Brightline can reliably do that, they will probably attract a good chunk of business travelers.

I've done the Jax to Miami and Atlanta daytrips for work in the past (with the worst being having your return flight from Atlanta being cancelled). With one of those trips, I had to end up getting a hotel overnight and renting a car in the morning (the airport had no cars that day) to drive back to make sure I was back in town for a next day meeting. If we had decent intercity rail here, it would definitely be a decent alternative at that pricing structure.
« Last Edit: September 24, 2023, 08:53:48 AM by thelakelander »
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CityLife

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Re: Brightline ready to expand rail system to Tampa
« Reply #444 on: September 25, 2023, 03:44:40 PM »
Jaxlongtimer and Lakelander hit on a lot of the key points about Brightline's prices, but I'll share a few random thoughts and anecdotes as an occasional Brightliner.

-Brightline is a premium train service. Much like a luxury hotel, they would rather keep prices high and service a higher end clientele and not be full, then lower prices and upset their key end user. They don't want homeless people being able to ride, which does happen on Tri-Rail and other trains. Not agreeing with this in concept, just saying that is the approach they are taking.

-To the above point, they do offer deals and discounts to corporate partners. I recently worked for the the largest company in Florida (by market cap) and we had a standing 25% discount on ticket prices and occasionally got even better deals.

-Prior to Orlando opening, business travelers and upper income people traveling to events throughout South Florida seemed to be the core of their ridership. There are a lot of business people that use it to day trip between Miami, Fort Lauderdale, and West Palm Beach for work meetings, visiting clients, or functions. I once rode down from West Palm Beach to Miami for a night gala with a group of 10 coworkers. We ran into about 20 other people going to the same event on our car alone. I don't know if that same synergy will exist between South Florida and Orlando, but have to imagine there will be some, especially with conferences.

-They offer 25% off tickets for college students. Brightline makes it easier for kids to go to UCF, FAU, etc and not have to have a car to get to and from their hometowns (if near a stop). Parents will probably happily pay the premium prices a couple times a semester if it saves them the expense of car/insurance payments.

-They frequently run specials when demand is low. In summertime when less tourists and residents are in South Florida, they typically have cheaper rates and allow kids to ride for free. I expect them to offer lower rates next summer between Orlando-South Florida.

-As a solo traveler or couple it is often cost effective to ride vs pay for gas and/or parking. My wife and I occasionally Brightline from WPB down to Miami, and uber to Miami Beach for a weekend getaway. It's cheaper or close to a break even to do this and not pay for hotel parking and gas, plus a way more enjoyable trip, as Dade/Broward traffic is bad and getting worse. This will also be useful with direct service to Orlando International.

-Someone once told me that Brightline is not a rail company. It is a real estate development company. Not entirely true, but they are a developer of multi-family and I believe make other JV deals near their stops. So their revenue and business model is not entirely built on ridership and ticket revenue.

-They also make revenue from partnerships with sports teams, cultural attractions, and venues. In South Florida you can ride Brightline and take a special shuttle to Heat, Dolphins, Inter Miami, and Marlins games. In the summer time, the local museums offer free entrance to children with their Brightline tickets and purchase of an adult ticket. Not sure how the revenue works there, but they get something from those arrangements. Even though I think the relationship got strained from the station issues, I still expect Disney and Brightline will work out a partnership.

-There are tons of wealthy Americans, Europeans and South Americans that vacation in South Florida every winter. Brightline will make it a lot easier for some of them to pop up to Orlando and hit some parks up, though I'm sure many have no interest.

-Similarly, tons of foreign travelers hit up Disney throughout the year. As Jaxlongtimer pointed out, taking a train to South Florida is probably a lot more appealing than renting a car in a foreign country.

-Final point is that I don't think Brightline will ever come close to filling its cars until they add more intercity stops and complete the connection to Tampa. They are legally obligated to provide a station in Martin or St. Lucie County in the next five years. Stuart is preferred, but will allow no density, so you will likely see a stop in Fort Pierce, which has the bones for a great downtown. I've also heard there will be at least one stop in Brevard County, but could see them adding two. NextEra/FPL and the City of Palm Beach Gardens are pushing hard for a stop there, where you have a ton of high salary jobs and shopping. If Tampa happens, there would have to be a Lakeland stop. So ultimately, you would have a regional system that looks more like a European system, with express trains and regional trains. I personally don't believe Brightline will survive long-term without becoming a regional system with a wide variety of stops along it's lines. Time will tell.

thelakelander

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Re: Brightline ready to expand rail system to Tampa
« Reply #445 on: September 25, 2023, 04:40:11 PM »
^and that regional statewide or corridor service is where Jax would best benefit from in the future, as I don't view a JTA ran commuter rail system as being feasible or getting off the ground in my lifetime. Anything along the FEC would most definitely include tourism centers like Daytona and St. Augustine. With the way Palm Coast continues to grow, I imagine that becomes a potential stop as well. With Amtrak, assuming a statewide corridor service ever comes online, it comes with the opportunity to have intercity rail stations in downtown, Fleming Island, Green Cove Springs, Palatka, etc. While not traditional commuter rail or LRT, like the Pacific Surfliner and Brightline, these become opportunities for each of these communities to intentionally increase density around their stations, leading to intercity rail becoming a commuting option as well.

If I were Jacksonville, I'd find a way to stop totally focusing on transit in my struggling downtown and start getting real serious and aggressive about finding partnerships and advocating for regional and intercity connections. Balance is necessary.
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marcuscnelson

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Re: Brightline ready to expand rail system to Tampa
« Reply #446 on: September 25, 2023, 06:42:38 PM »
There's a lot I'd like to say here, but in the interest of keeping it short, I'll partially concur with Lake. JTA themselves has continued to describe a commuter rail system as being a decade away, despite the millions they have already spent on studies over the past 3 decades. It seems pretty evident that despite their claims otherwise, they don't feel any sense of urgency to develop a rail system, at least on their own initiative. At this point we would likely see more progress sooner with letting JTA formally turn their attention elsewhere while contributing some resources to supporting an intercity connection along the corridor. The Amtrak corridor seems a lot less likely just because of FDOT's attitude about intercity rail, but that certainly doesn't mean we can't support provisions for if such a service ever comes about. In the longer term, we can copy Miami-Dade in developing a mainline regional system as an infill solution to an intercity line. Either way, I would agree that JTA needs to stop focusing on solely downtown circulation and more on regional connectivity, especially with the sheer size of this region.
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acme54321

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Re: Brightline ready to expand rail system to Tampa
« Reply #447 on: September 25, 2023, 06:53:27 PM »
I like trains and all, but I have a hard time seeing commuter rail being really effective here.  We don't have many (any?) dense population centers along any of the rail corridors and our traffic isn't bad enough to push people to rail.  Look at the issues Sunrail has had with ridership and their metro is way bigger and they have the I-4 gridlock for miles and miles.

That said, I'd love a Brightline train from downtown or San Marco to downtown St Augustine. 

thelakelander

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Re: Brightline ready to expand rail system to Tampa
« Reply #448 on: September 25, 2023, 08:41:07 PM »
The Amtrak corridor seems a lot less likely just because of FDOT's attitude about intercity rail, but that certainly doesn't mean we can't support provisions for if such a service ever comes about.

The thing about FDOT, is that their view can dramatically change every 4 to 8 years. It's totally reflective of who is charge in Tallahassee. When Rick Scott was in, he preferred lexus lanes and that basically became the go-to solution to widening our limited access system. DeSantis doesn't and now we're not building them like we used too. So there's hope for Amtrak. Unfortunately, I can't say the same for JTA under the same type of timeframe.
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thelakelander

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Re: Brightline ready to expand rail system to Tampa
« Reply #449 on: September 25, 2023, 08:43:33 PM »
I like trains and all, but I have a hard time seeing commuter rail being really effective here.  We don't have many (any?) dense population centers along any of the rail corridors and our traffic isn't bad enough to push people to rail.  Look at the issues Sunrail has had with ridership and their metro is way bigger and they have the I-4 gridlock for miles and miles.

I agree. Without some serious change in direction on densifying land uses and strengthening downtown as an activity center, I worry about commuter rail's feasibility as well. Sunrail is commuter rail but people in Orlando want it to operate like LRT. I do believe it would attract more ridership if it ran on weekends and had more frequent headways during the weekdays. However, that costs money and no one seems to want to pay for it. It averages around 4,100 riders a day, during the week now. Back before JTA started killing the Skyway off, it was moving 5,000 riders a day, despite being 2.5 miles in length. Nevertheless, Sunrail has done one thing a lot better than anything JTA has accomplished with the First Coast Flyer and the Skyway. It has stimulated hundreds of millions in TOD.
« Last Edit: September 25, 2023, 08:57:21 PM by thelakelander »
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