Getting everyone gracefully from point A to meeting B is one of the challenges event professionals wrestle with every day, even if those points are simply from airport to venue and back again. After the final session closes, the struggle shifts to the attendee looking for a little bleisure action in nearby destinations. Cities across the country are unveiling public transit upgrades that may take the pain out of pursuing post-event pleasure.
A Capital Connection
When Metrorail Silver Line opened in November 2022, connecting Washington Dulles International Airport (IAD) to downtown DC, it was the realization of a 50-year dream for Metro, the Metropolitan Washington Airport Authority, regional business leaders and Virginia elected officials.
The 11.5-mile extension serves as a Metrorail link between downtown D.C. and Loudoun County via the airport and the business hub of Tysons. Dulles Metro station has been used by 1 million passengers since the celebrated opening and more than 3 million people have passed through the Silver Line extension’s six new stations since it opened.
Thanks to an increase in non-stop flights, including new routes to Germany, Canada, London and Reykjaik, by new and incumbent airlines, Dulles is the fastest-growing U.S. airport for international flight activity this year. It has increased 31% compared to last year.
Next up is a planned addition of a LEED Silver-certified, $560 million 14-gate concourse for domestic and international flights that begins construction next month and is scheduled for completion in 2026.
A More Accessible Florida
In September, Brightline’s newest route between Miami and Orlando opened with a grand opening at its Orlando stop that included more than 500 elected officials, business leaders and community partners.
Visit Orlando Chief Sales Officer Mike Waterman called the new transportation option a game-changer. “We know whether you’re coming in early or staying late, you might want to go down to Fort Lauderdale, West Palm Beach or Miami. This leaves out of brand-new Terminal C and goes direct with only four stops and no traffic. Even the standard service is comparable to first-class comfort on an airplane,” he said.
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The eco-friendly, intercity rail launched in 2018 with service between Miami, Fort Lauderdale and West Palm Beach. The Boca Raton and Aventura stations opened last year.
The Miami to Orlando route covers 235 miles and takes between three and 3.5 hours to reach the Brightline Orlando Station inside Orlando International Airport (MCO) adjacent to the new Terminal C. Economy fares for the trip begin at $79 with premium tickets going for $149. Train frequency doubled just weeks into operations, going from 16 round trips daily to 30 with hourly departures.
Plans to expand to the Treasure Coast are in the RFP stage.
A Western Link
Getting from the City of Angels to the Entertainment Capital of the World could soon be easier as well. As part of a plan to add service to congested corridors that are too close to fly and too long to drive, Brightline, the same company linking popular Florida hot spots, is creating a streamlined route between Southern California and Nevada. The company plans on taking operations to the West Coast with Brightline West, connecting travelers via high-speed fully electric trains between Los Angeles and Las Vegas.
Billed as the first true high-speed passenger rail system in the nation, this 218-mile, all-electric high-speed rail service will include a flagship station in Las Vegas, with additional stations in Apple Valley, Hesperia and Rancho Cucamonga. At speeds of more than 186 miles per hour, trains will take passengers from Las Vegas to Rancho Cucamonga in just 2 hours and 10 minutes, twice as fast as the normal drive time. The Rancho Cucamonga Station will connect to Southern California’s regional Metrolink service, allowing for seamless connectivity into downtown Los Angeles and beyond.
The project is scheduled to break ground by the end of 2023.