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Brightline train hits car in Pompano Beach on first day back after 20-month shutdown

71-year-old grandmother suffers broken bones
Car damaged from Brightline crash in Pompano Beach, Nov. 8, 2021
Posted at 1:03 PM, Nov 08, 2021
and last updated 2021-11-08 17:20:24-05

POMPANO BEACH, Fla. — Officials said a Brightline train hit a car carrying a grandmother and her grandchild on the higher-speed line's first day back in operation since the pandemic began.

The collision occurred near Northeast Third Street and North Flagler Avenue in Pompano Beach just before 10:30 a.m.

GALLERY: Brightline resumes service

Fire rescue officials said the 71-year-old woman suffered some broken bones and the child did not appear to be seriously injured.

Car damaged from Brightline crash in Pompano Beach, Nov. 8, 2021
A grandmother and her grandchild were injured after a Brightline train hit their car in Pompano Beach, Fla., on Nov. 8, 2021.

The train was heading from West Palm Beach to Fort Lauderdale, where an event was scheduled to mark the train's return.

The train travels at speeds of up to 79 mph through some of South Florida's most densely populated cities.

Since Brightline started service in January 2018, it has been plagued by collisions with vehicles, pedestrians and bicyclists.

This prompted officials to announce a statewide safety campaign that involved adding more signage announcing service, increasing public service announcements and putting out safety street teams at local events.

"This is endemic to the entire industry, nationally, internationally, people choose to circumvent the very equipment that's put in place to protect them. They try to beat trains at grade crossings," said Patrick Goddard, the president of Brightline.

Brightline car crash, Nob. 8, 2021
A car was severely damaged after a collision with a Brightline train in Pompano Beach, Fla., on Nov. 8, 2021.

Goddard told WPTV last week that the rail line spent more than $10 million on improving signs at crossings and experimenting with red light cameras.

"We really want the South Florida community to understand what Brightline is and what we can do for the community, how we add an alternate mode of travel," Goddard said.

It's been more than a year and a half since Brightline trains have carried passengers from West Palm Beach to Fort Lauderdale and Miami.

The rail service officially returned to a full schedule on Monday.

During last week's soft launch, riders were able to book discounted rates while Brightline prepared for full operations.

Fares between West Palm Beach and Miami are $15 to $37.

The privately-owned passenger rail service is unique in the United States, and there are questions whether Brightline can attract enough passengers to be profitable.

"We were headed to breaking even in our second year before we suspended operations. We expect to pick up things right where we left them off," Goddard said.

Brightline has added lounges to stations and a door-to-door car service called Brightline Plus for passengers.

Brightline President Patrick Goddard, speaks on Nov. 8, 2021 about train service resuming
Brightline President Patrick Goddard speaks about train service resuming after the pandemic.

Passengers riding the train in West Palm Beach on Monday seemed glad to be back on the colorful trains and the luxury service on board.

"I was a regular rider before the service ended, and I'm back on board, and I'm thrilled," said Steven Anthony of Fort Lauderdale.

Dr. Claudia Bornia said she was boarding a train in West Palm Beach to go to work in Miami.

"I sometimes take the Tri-Rail, but it's going to be a lot easier for sure," she said.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.