Third Wheel: Brightline Banishes Bikes From Trains

Take your two-wheeled monstrosity elsewhere!
Leave your dandy horses and velocipedes at home.
Leave your dandy horses and velocipedes at home. Stock photo by Razyph/GettyImages
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If you're planning to take Brightline down to Miami, you may want to bring some extra cash because your options to travel on the cheap from the train station to your final destination just got slimmer.

As of Sept. 5, fully assembled bicycles and electric bikes are no longer permitted on Brightline trains, the company announced.

"Bicycles and e-bikes, due to their size and configuration, have presented challenges in terms of space within our train compartments," a Brightline representative tells New Times. "The new bike policy will help alleviate these concerns, resulting in a more enjoyable experience for all passengers."

The change comes after a spike in ticket prices: A round-trip weekday fare from Fort Lauderdale to Miami via Brightline routinely costs more than $50 during peak commuting hours. The policy is a shift from Brightline's previous bike-friendly stance that allowed passengers to bring their bike onboard at no extra charge — and some are not pleased with the backpedaling.

"Brightline claims to be 'the only provider of modern, eco-friendly intercity rail in America.' That is quite an assertion for a company not permitting fully assembled bicycles and e-bikes," a member of the Miami Bike Scene collective tells New Times. "There is absolutely nothing 'modern' or 'eco-friendly' about running trains not equipped to carry fully assembled bicycles."

Riders already don't have many choices for their post-train transportation given that Brightline's local shuttle service is limited to trips to Miami International Airport, Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport, and the Aventura mall, which cost $10 per solo rider. Brightline's electric mini-cars will take you to your destination only if it's within a mile of the train station, according to the Brightline website.

Apart from those options, Magic City commuters can snag a Citi Bike rental outside the Miami Brightline station (about $11 for a two-hour rental), or pony up for an Uber ride.

Mark Merwitzer, policy manager of Transit Alliance Miami, says the organization hopes Brightline can figure out a way to allow for bike storage in the future. In the meantime, he tells New Times it is critical for Brightline to evolve to meet the needs of the community and to be more accessible, citing the pricey tickets as a barrier for commuters.

"Frankly, the only stop that Brightline serves right now that has a built-out bike network is the Miami Central Station, which is critical. But, you go to Aventura, Fort Lauderdale, and West Palm Beach, where it also serves, it's just a nightmare to get to those stations," Merwitzer says.

Brightline has its own bike rental operation in West Palm Beach with 17 listed bicycle docks in the downtown area. The pay-as-you-go rental rate is $2.75 for 30 minutes. 

The company says it will continue to allow some forms of self-transportation implements on its upscale trains.

"We understand the importance of alternative modes of transportation for our guests and will continue to accommodate regular-sized scooters and folding bikes," the company tells New Times.

Brightline's highly anticipated Orlando station has not come online despite the company's plans to open it by September 1. The company is now aiming to launch service from South Florida to the Orlando station by the end of the month.

For those willing to trade the snazzy comforts of Brightline cabins for functionality, Tri-Rail still allows bicycles and electric bikes aboard its trains.
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