Florida’s High-Speed Rail is Back in Time for APTA EXPO 

Nov. 7, 2021
Brightline's return to service brings new safety protocols, service enhancements and a new mobility offering. 

After closing for 18 months due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Brightline will once again serve riders in South Florida between Miami, Fort Lauderdale and West Palm Beach starting Nov. 8, 2021. Guests could begin using Brightline’s new website or mobile app Oct. 18 to purchase and book future trips. Those who downloaded the new Brightline app and created a user account received their first ride for free.

In preparation for the resumption of service, the high-speed rail provider has implemented serval changes, including updating COVID-19 safety protocols, introducing a new multimodal mobility service and bolstering its personnel.

Safety Preparations

“Safety is Brightline’s top priority,” said Vanessa Alfonso, director of media relations, Brightline. “We have several initiatives and partnerships throughout the community to promote safety prior to launch and during operations.”

In terms of COVID-19 safety, Chief Health Officer Dr. Timothy McCormick joined Brightline during its hiatus to provide medical expertise and guidance for the implementation of operations, corporate and construction practices. The rail provider also required all staff to be fully vaccinated prior to resuming service. Other COVID-19 protocols include increased cleaning, pre-packaged foods, touchless bathrooms, cashless payment and electronic tickets. And, per the federal mandate, all staff and passengers must wear masks in stations and onboard trains.

Air purification has also been top of mind. Brightline notes that 25 percent of the air in coaches comes from fresh air intake ducts that gets filtered prior to mixing with recirculated air—unlike airplanes where air is entirely recirculated. The company is also implementing Siemens’ Needlepoint Bipolar Ionization (NPBI) system, which artificially creates positive and negative ions that are released into the forced-air circulation of an HVAC system. The ions, or charged particles, neutralize pathogens, viruses and bacteria.

But COVID-19 isn’t the only safety concern. Alfonso shares Brightline has been conducting extensive outreach to ensure the rail service can safely operate within the communities it serves.

“With our trains relaunching service in South Florida, we have been actively promoting rail safety with our local news stations to remind drivers and pedestrians of safety practices around train tracks,” Alfonso said.

Alfonso notes that prior to launching service, Brightline has been working on the following safety measures:

  • VMS signs at rotating crossings with safety messaging displayed.
  • Safety ambassadors deployed throughout the community handing out safety literature.
  • The refresh of safety literature in four languages: English, Spanish, Creole and Portuguese.
  • Partnerships with the three South Florida school districts and the dissemination of information.
  • New no trespassing signage along the corridor in English, Spanish and Creole.
  • Partnerships with 211, which is a local suicide prevention agency, local cities, counties and law enforcement agencies.
  • Outreach to youth and homeless communities through the Buzz Boxx initiative, a mobile barbershop that provides complimentary haircuts in exchange for taking the rail safety pledge.
  • Safety PSAs running in English, Spanish and Creole.
  • Spearheading proof of concept ideas, like red light camera pilot in North Miami and drone test project.

The rail operator also worked with the Florida East Coast Railway and the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) to commission and certify its positive train control system.

Brightline is continuing these safety and education efforts along the rail corridor, and is also investing more than $6.5 million in additional safety enhancements over the next year. Alfonso notes this investment includes safety measures as part of a federal grant, such as installing exit gats, signage and striping, and a corridor greening and intrusion prevention project.  

Service Enhancements

Among the company’s service enhancements is Brightline’s new door-to-door mobility service, which Alfonso describes as “the most advanced multimodal mobility offering in North America.”

The service, made possible through a partnership with the software company Iomob, aims to offer first-and-last-mile connections, eliminating transportation gaps and helping reduce environmental impact. Passengers can select between private luxury cars, shared shuttle services, golf carts and micromobility options.

“This service, provided by Brightline, will enable customers to book seamless door-to-door transportation for the first and last mile of their journey through a multimodal planning and ticketing app,” Alfonso explained. “The service is trajected to become the most integrated mobility booking service in the country.”

Bolstering Personnel

Leading up to the service relaunch, Brightline has been working to recruit people for nearly 200 jobs by working with several community partners and hosting various career fairs throughout South Florida. The company offers an $18 per hour starting wage, along with a comprehensive rewards package that provides staff with access to resources to support professional and personal growth. Brightline is working with multiple community partners to recruit for nearly 200 jobs, offering starting wages at $18 per hour.

Available positions can be found on the company’s website.

Service Expansion

In addition to service enhancements and updated safety protocols, Brightline continues to progress with its planned expansion, with stations in Aventura and Boca Raton.

The company is currently working on construction for the Aventura Station, and anticipates breaking ground on the Boca Raton Station in the coming months. Construction to Orlando has surpassed the halfway point and is on target to be complete by the end of 2022.

Additionally, Brightline is continuing discussions with local stakeholders regarding expansion to Disney and Tampa.    

About the Author

Megan Perrero | Associate Editor

Megan Perrero is an award-winning B2B journalist. She is the associate editor of Mass Transit magazine where she assists with developing the newsletters and social media posts, along with the online and print content. She is currently a board member for Latinos in Transit and serves on the APTA Marketing and Communications Committee. She’s based out of Chicago, Ill.

Prior to joining the team, Perrero gained experience covering the manufacturing and processing food and beverage industry, the agriculture industry and the library industry.

Perrero is a Columbia College Chicago alumna where she earned a bachelor's degree in journalism with a concentration in magazine writing and a minor in public relations.