WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. — It's been about 20 months since Brightline's yellow trains have been transporting passengers on the rails from West Palm Beach to Miami.
The service closed in March 2020 because of the pandemic, and employees have been working this year to reopen in a safe manner.
Trains are running a soft schedule Monday about every hour ahead of Nov. 8's full resumption of service.
"We’re really excited to be returning to service this week," said Brightline's president Patrick Goddard.
Goddard said the soft opening will allow them to work out any issues before next week.
[It was] better than expected. It was a great, comfortable ride, quick," said rider Jason Bagley of Fort Lauderdale. "I've been commuting the last few weeks to Miami and this was half the time, twice the comfort."
Brightline is offering a preview period from Nov. 1-7 as they finetune their service. The privately-owned company said 100 percent of fares during this week will be donated to 211.
Even during the nearly two-year shutdown, the company continued building tracks for expanded service to Orlando, which is set to open in late 2022 or early 2023.
"We took the downtime to try and adjust some of our services, our technology, our app, our beverage service, just enhancements to the experience," Goddard said.
Passengers at the West Palm Beach station seemed glad Monday to have the service back connecting to Fort Lauderdale and Miami.
"I missed it a lot," said Ron Prymus, who was buying tickets to Miami for later in the week.