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Passenger Trains > South Florida Tips
Date: 06/14/19 04:57
South Florida Tips
I have some downtime in Miami Area, trying to ride all of Brightline and Tri-Rail in one day. Has anyone here tried this?
Date: 06/14/19 06:00
Re: South Florida Tips
Metrorail connects Tri-Rail and Virgin in Miami (Miami Airport and Miami Central station). In West Palm Beach it's very walkable between the Tri-Rail and Virgin stations. I did it in April and stayed near the Fort Lauderdale Airport, since I flew in, using the hotel shuttle to and from the airport and free Tri-Rail shuttle between the airport and the Tri-Rail station, but you could stay in many other places.
Date: 06/14/19 06:02
Re: South Florida Tips
The Brightline station in Miami is next to the Overtown Metrorail station. You can take an Orange Line train to the Miami Airport or a Green Line train to the Tri-Rail transfer station to connect with Tri-Rail.
In West Palm Beach, it is about 1/2 mile between the Brightline and Tri-Rail stations. You can either walk it (not in this heat) or take the Green Line trolley (free) to Clematis street which is a stones throw away from Brightline. The Green Line trolley stops in front of the old Seaboard station on Tamarind Ave.
Posted from iPhone
Date: 06/14/19 06:12
Re: South Florida Tips
If you want to ride "all" of Tri-Rail, there's one station North of West Palm.
Mangonia Park is the terminus. Trains lay over there before heading back.
The area along Clematis Street has a range of food and beverage choices.
Posted from Android
Date: 06/14/19 08:37
Re: South Florida Tips
> If you want to ride "all" of Tri-Rail, there's one
> station North of West Palm.
> Mangonia Park is the terminus. Trains lay over
> there before heading back.
> The area along Clematis Street has a range of food
> and beverage choices.
And Clematis is where you're going to need to go if you're looking for any sustenance while riding trains to or from West Palm. The Mangonia Park station is a big park-and-ride affair and it's a verrrrry long walk to any services on 45th Street. The Tri-Rail station in WPB doesn't have much in its immediate area, either.
Date: 06/14/19 09:03
Re: South Florida Tips
The stations on Tri-Rail, in general, are just park n ride stations. In addition, they aren't super close to any downtown areas. Tri-Rail is a nice operation to ride. I rode it back in January of 2014 a few times while in Miami and had lots of fun. Many of the stations are great for railfanning. I love Ft. Lauderdale and West Palm Beach are great spots. Watch out-multiple stations are in dangerous neighborhoods but as long as if you exercise common sense and go to areas where there are a lot of people, you should be fine. Stations like Metrorail Transfer come to mind.
Date: 06/20/19 18:20
Re: South Florida Tips
Thanks so much for the information It all proved quite helpful.
Date: 08/28/19 20:44
Re: South Florida Tips
I'm sitting in a quaint bed and breakfast in West Palm Beach after 'doing it ALL, end to end' today! Thanks to this thread and others, and the soon to come end of REAL food in the Silver Meteor dining cars, my 'blue sky' trip to south Florida got moved up from the January-February plan. I spent an hour or so printing out maps of Tri-Rail, Miami MetroRail and Miami Metro Mover. I also printed the schedule for Tri-Rail to find a 'quick turnaround' point. Like all my transit and commuter train day-trips, I keep all the maps, time tables (if needed) and multiple plans of 'connecting the routes' in my pocket in case there are surprises or changes en route.
I took the Silver Star from NYP as I hadn't ridden to/from Tampa in nearly 40 years when I made a trip to a client in Clearwater. I got off and on in Clearwater back then, too. This time, it was off at West Palm Beach and a 10 minute walk to the B&B and spent the night. It was then a 2 short blocks walk - about 5 minutes - to the Brightline station and took the 8:30 AM departure to Miami. Fortunately, passing storms had just passed through a few minutes before each walk.
Arriving Miami and out the door on the west side of the station, it was about 100 yards from the entrance to Metrorail. In checking the ticket machine, I found an all-day ticket for $5.75. Without thinking, I chose the 'reusable card' instead of a paper ticket which cost an extra $2.00. BofA then declined the card (they must hate me, after years and years with them!) so I paid cash. Big mistake! I gave it a $20 bill and it gave me a slot-machine 'jackpot' of Susan B Anthony and Sacajawea dollar coins and a quarter.
My first trip on MetroRail was an Orange Line train south to the end of the line at Dadeland South. The same train then returned north and I took it all the way to MIA airport as I figured I'd take the 'Y' of the two Metrorail routes and board the Green Line at Tri-Rail station (where Tri-Rail and MetroRail meet other than the airport). I decided to do Tri-Rail in the late morning/early afternoon to avoid rush hour mobs. It was the right choice. Both trains were maybe 25% full.
Special note for transferring from Metrorail to Tri-Rail at MIA airport: The Metrorail station tracks are about 30 feet above ground level and Tri-Rail tracks are on the ground, alongside and parallel to the MetroRail tracks. Either take the escalator UP from the MetroRail track level to the 'airport' level to get to Tri-Rail, OR, get to the ground level and walk to the 'end of the tracks' (South?) to enter Tri-Rail at the 'main entrance'. Also note, if going up to the airport level, take the exit gates to your left (away from the airport) and get your Tri-Rail ticket at the machine immediately outside of the exit gates. I didn't see them and ended up going down to track level and walking to the end of the tracks to get my ticket. I had only 5 minutes or so to get my ticket at that point, I opted for a round-trip Tri-Rail ticket just in case I wanted to come back to the airport. It saved about 2 minutes buying a separate ticket to get back to the Tri-Rail station where it meets Metrorail. Of note on Metrorail is that the all-stainless steel cars are the older cars (and show it inside) but have surprisingly comfortable seats, although the cushions are somewhat 'broken down' from steady use. The new two-tone blue and stainless cars have what I call 'transit standard' modern formed stainless steel seats with MAYBE 3/4" of padding that can be easily pressed with one finger all the way to the steel underneath. As I've ridden Amtrak to/from Ft Lauderdale a couple of times in the past 30 years or so - including this past January - I figured I'd only go as far as Ft Lauderdale Airport which is about a mile or so south of the Ft Lauderdale station. There, it was a walk across the tracks at the street on the north end of the station to board a southbound train 6-7 minutes later. The timetable indicated I would 'just miss' making the same southbound train had I stayed aboard to Ft Lauderdale. While waiting for the southbound train, I discovered I was looking for a toilet AND my stomach was telling me I'm 'starving'. So I decided to ride all the way back to the MIA airport and satisfy both needs there.
I think it's a toss-up as to which airport, MIA or MDW in Chicago is the furthest away from the rail station. But first, it's necessary to ride airport automated rubber-tire 4-car 'train' to the terminals then it's moving sidewalks from there. Even with the moving sidewalks at MIA, it was still 8-10 minutes to get to 'food'. I made the mistake of first going to the 'rental car' counter 'building'. Toilets, yes. Food, NO! Even the toilets were hard to find there! And of course, along the way at a 'break' between moving walkways, there was a overhead sign 'good food and drink, take elevator down right here! The elevator entrances were boarded over. I found Le Bon Pain (what a name!) in one of the terminals and paid for a slice of pizza and a Diet Coke with some of my 'jackpot' Susan B's and Sacajawea's. She carefully looked at one of each type to make sure they were real money. I would have too had I not had a similar jackpot on the Philadelphia subway about a year ago.
So, taking the 'trek' back to the Metrorail station, I boarded the orange line train to ride to the first stop, then switch to the green line train to Palmeto...the end of the line, which is 3 stops west of the Tri-Rail station. Then taking the train back as far as Government Center' it was out the gates', down to the ground level (from 2nd level up), and up 1 level to get to the FREE Miami MetroMover.
The Miami Metromover is also completely automated individual or paired 30' long rubber tired cars that follow a dual center guideway with what appears to be dual power feeders on each side of the guideway. LIONEL Lives! Most interesting were the 'switches'. In railroad terms, they are 'stub' switches where the center guideway only moves across the 'frog end' in slow motion. Each of the 'wings' of the stub has a gap to allow the rubber tires to pass through as the guideway is about 4-5" above the concrete 'roadway' tracks for the tires. How the tires decide to take the switch or go straight must be the result of electronic 'magic'. I plotted a couple scenarios of how to ride past all the stations and minimize the number of stations I passed though twice. It's basically 3 overlapping loops with the green line going north out of the loop, the red line going south, and the orange line going around the loop non stop in the opposite direction of the other two routes.
The first train that showed up - a single 30' car - was the red line to Financial District end of the line at the south. I could have taken the same car back, but as there were a good number of people waiting to board, I decided to wait 5-10 minutes for the next car to arrive & depart. I took the next car back to Knight Center (on the loop) and transferred to the green line single car to 'School Board'. While waiting for that car to arrive, I looked carefully at the route map in the station and found that the Wilke Ferguson aka Arena/State Plaza on my paper map is at the south end of the Brightline station. So, my plan was to ride the green line train to the end and back, get off at the Wilke Ferguson station, switch to the inner orange line train and make a complete loop returning to Wilke Ferguson to board Brightline. Riding the entire loop was about 10 minutes and each of the other 2 routes is about 10 minutes each way from loop to end of track. What's interesting about these automated cars is that the red and green lines are single cars only and most were somewhat crowded in the downtown loop area. The orange line 'inner loop' cars were in pairs and only 5-10 passengers in each. Also of note is that there are only 4 seats in each car, everyone else stands and hangs on! Interestingly, the cars on the inner loop acted like an automobile and 'pumped the brakes' at 2 of the stations. Go figure.
I was back in the Brightline station about 4:20PM. As I was planning on riding the 'select' class (nicer than Acela First Class!) again and getting a bit of free nourishment and free soda (I've been sober for more than 20 years) in the lounge first, I was going to take the 5:10 train, but the schedule on the screen at the ticket machines showed it was cancelled, so I took the 4:40. I'd have just enough time to get my ticket and get aboard. When getting my ticket in the morning, I didn't see the 'change seat' option, and it assigned me to seat 43, a single, forward facing seat on the west side of the train in the middle of the car. I thought I'd try changing seats on the evening train, but when it showed me the filled and available seats, I couldn't get a forward facing seat at a table for 4, so I took the one the computer assigned automatically...43 again. Except at the tables, all the seats had been turned to face forward at MIA.
The trip back to WPB was quick and fast as far as the Ft Lauderdale station. We proceeded out of the station at 5-10 mph and kept that speed for a good 30-40 minutes. We even stopped briefly a couple of times. I initially figured we were behind a slow freight (does FEC run ANY freight slow on very-smooth track?) or were we down to single track account the other was out of service for maintenance? After about 10 minutes of going slow, they made an announcement over the PA as to why but with my poor hearing aids that are getting replaced in a couple weeks, I couldn't understand a word of what they said account too many passengers talking. 2 more announcements and 2 brief stops later, we speeded up to 30mph per my cell phone GPS. THEN I saw the reason for the slow running...crossing gate problems. There was a crew working on the gates at one of the crossings, and it was about 6:30 when we passed them! THAT had to be the problem. We were cruising at 75 mph (per my GPS) from that point on. PTC must have been forcing us to go slow the whole time! That explains the couple of words I did understand of the last announcement...'apologize', 'safety' and 'security'.
When I rode south this past January, my only goal then was to ride the Brightline. But arriving at FTL a couple hours late that trip and a 9:30ish departure in the morning, I never got to ride Brightline at all. So, based on this thread and suggestions on another forum, spending 2 nights in Florida is the secret to 'riding it all end-to-end'.
And to finish off my south Florida joy riding...one of the click-bait threads I found online while on the Silver Star was about the best burger joints in the USA praised 'Grease' in West Palm Beach. It was at the north end of the Brightrail station and 3-4 blocks straight east on Clematis St. They were right! A super delicious burger (12 oz of meat!!) cooked to order! (very rare for me). It's a great sports bar with TVs and maybe 10 or more different stations being shown. But as a recovering alcoholic, seeing 500 or more DIFFERENT kinds of booze behind the bar was like being a kid in a candy shop! Diet Pepsi sufficed.
It's off to bed for me. The Silver Meteor departs WPB at 9:47 AM, with or without me!