Bloomberg — Orlando transit riders can now travel to Miami or West Palm Beach on a high-speed train, as Fortress Investment Group-backed Brightline began services to Orlando International Airport on September 22.
The service will allow connections between Orlando and South Florida destinations, including Miami, Boca Raton and West Palm Beach, the not-yet-profitable rail operator announced Wednesday..
The launch follows a delay driven by last year’s turmoil in the bond market.
Florida’s boom in economic activity and influx of wealth has led to an increase in commuter and corporate ridership, even as other transit systems across the US struggle to bring riders back to pre-pandemic levels.
South Florida now houses soccer star Lionel Messi after his move to play for Inter Miami, as well as Citadel following the hedge fund’s relocation to Miami from Chicago. Elliott Investment Management made a similar switch, moving to West Palm Beach from Manhattan, as the state benefits from a migration south from higher tax states.
The Sunshine State’s growth has helped to boost the carrier’s ridership, with passengers surging 71% year-to-date through July, compared to the prior year period.
Still, the five-year-old carrier hasn’t turned an annual profit, losing $260 million last year.
That’s not stopping Brightline’s expansion plans as it targets extending the line west to Tampa with a projected completion in 2028. The operator is also working on a 235-mile-long line connecting Southern California and Las Vegas.
“Opening Orlando fulfills our ultimate business model,” Patrick Goddard, president of Brightline said in a press release. “We have seen incredible enthusiasm from the business and tourism industries eager to travel between Central and South Florida.”
The firm didn’t respond to a request for comment on profitability.
One-way tickets for the three and a half hour trip from Miami to Orlando will cost $79 for regular adult seats and start at $149 for premium, according to a press release. The trains are expected to reach maximum speeds of 125 miles-per-hour.
— With assistance by Martin Z Braun
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