The PortMiami announcement comes as Virgin Trains continues to expand its footprint across South Florida, including potentially to Boca Raton and Palm Beach Gardens.
Brightline has announced plans to build a station at PortMiami by 2020, giving Palm Beach County riders door-to-door access to their cruise ship.
“They’re able to start their holiday earlier,” said company spokesman Mike Hicks, noting 1.3 million cruise passengers already park in PortMiami each year. “It’s a great way for folks that live in Orlando or throughout the southeast that are driving [to] a cruise from PortMiami. They can just park in West Palm, take the train and then train to port service.”
The private train service, which is rebranding as Virgin Trains, said this week it has received approval for the PortMiami stop from the Miami-Dade County Commission. Until the Virgin Trains PortMiami station is ready, Hicks said, Palm Beach County riders can buy a train-to-port package for as low as $65 that includes parking in West Palm Beach, train fare and transportation on ride-share service Lyft from the downtown Miami station to PortMiami.
>>RELATED: Virgin Trains eyes Boca, other stops to boost riders and revenues
Hicks added that by 2022, when the Orlando International Airport station is complete, riders can have an Orlando experience and cruise experience without stepping foot in a car.
“Someone could fly into Orlando International Airport, they can have their Orlando experience, and then hop on a train directly to PortMiami and have their cruise experience,” he said, noting that Virgin Trains realized that a third of cruise passengers drive on heavily congested roads from points north to access the busiest cruise port in the world.
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The PortMiami approval comes as Virgin Trains continues to expand its footprint across South Florida. The rail service is working on a station in Aventura, in northeast Miami-Dade County, and is negotiating with the city of Boca Raton to add a station in 2020.
In addition, other cities are stepping forward to seek stations. One of those is Palm Beach Gardens.
Miami-Dade County Mayor Carlos A. Gimenez in a statement praised the private-public partnership to expand PortMiami’s connectivity in a “quick, enjoyable way.”
>>MORE: Palm Beach Gardens makes its pitch for a Virgin Trains USA stop
In a statement, Virgin Trains President Patrick Goddard called the Miami-Dade County ratification of the agreement “a tremendous partnership and infrastructure investment … that will increase mobility, take cars off the road and provide our state’s visitors an easier way to get around.”
Launched in 2018, Brightline is the only privately owned and operated intercity passenger rail service in the country.
All Aboard Florida, which operates Brightline, is owned by an affiliate of Fortress Investment Group LLC, a global investment management firm. Fortress Investment Group LLC is contracted to manage and advise New Media Investments Inc., which owns GateHouse Media, the parent company of The Palm Beach Post.