Triangle leaders visit Florida with hopes to improve public transportation at home

More than 75 Triangle leaders traveled to West Palm Beach, Florida, this week to learn about the city's public transportation.

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Byran Mims
, WRAL reporter
WEST PALM BEACH, FLA. — More than 75 Triangle leaders, including dozens of public officials, traveled to West Palm Beach, Florida, this week to learn about the city's public transportation.

WRAL's Bryan Mims went along with the Regional Transportation Alliance to see what plans local leaders were considering for Wake County.

Florida has a high-speed rail line, Brightline, that travels from Miami to West Palm Beach. The Brightline is the only passenger, city-to-city train in the country that is funded entirely with private money. It runs on the Florida East Coast Railway — which is privately-owned — between Miami and West Palm Beach, moving at 79 miles an hour.

"Our seats are bigger than a first-class airline cabin, not to mention you can also get food and beverages while you're on board," said Ali Soule, vice president of community relations at Brightline.

In 2023, the train will begin running all the way to Orlando, 170 miles north, at up to 125 miles an hour.

Durham Mayor Elaine O'Neal said she's eager to see a "well-rounded" transit system in the Triangle.

"There's a trust-building process and a transparency process that has to occur," she said.

The goal of this week's 3-day tour, according to the RTA, is for "the public and private sectors to demonstrate a shared committee to learning together for the future of the region."

Sig Hutchinson, chair of the Wake County Commissioners, said the Triangle will have commuter rail by 2030, with half the cost paid for with federal dollars.

Hutchinson said that commuting in Raleigh is only going to get worse as more people move to the area.

"If someone else is taking transit, that's one less person you have to fight on your way to work," he said.

Mayor of Cary Harold Weinbrecht said commuters need the options that West Palm Beach already has.

"The Triangle region is probably going to double in population within the next 30 years or so," he said. "We've got to be thinking about those things now, otherwise it's going to be an expensive retro-fix in the future."


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