MIAMI (CBSMiami) - The first Brightline train has officially arrived at the station in Orlando.
This trip was only a test, but the company says it's a critical step in launching the much-awaited service from Miami to Central Florida.
"We're going to be a game-changer for that miserable drive. Four or five hours subject to traffic, subject to weather, needing to stop. We're going to turn it into a very high quality, productive, fun experience for people," said President of Brightline Trains Patrick Goddard.
Brightline says the extension from West Palm Beach to Orlando is roughly 80% complete and service should begin in spring 2023.
"It doesn't seem real," said Project Engineer Jerome Hall. "It's something we've been dreaming about and working tirelessly towards for the last few years with design and construction."
Meanwhile, back in Miami, Brightline is celebrating it's 3rd anniversary with the help of Billy the Marlin and special deals and events.
"We really want to make sure the entire South Florida community gets to experience what Brightline's all about," Goddard said.
And while many are excited for the eventual Orlando connection, stations in Aventura and Boca Raton are also coming soon.
The highspeed rail has been plagued with accidents, some deadly, most involving drivers or pedestrians crossing the tracks when they shouldn't be.
Goddard said the crashes have not been a result of Brightline operator error.
With ridership expected to increase and more routes in the works, he stresses safety.
"Don't cross the gates when they're down," Goddard added. "The bells are ringing, the lights are flashing, the gate is down, wait. It only takes about 60 seconds to get through the crossing. Don't risk your life. It's not worth it."
Brightline is offering discounted fares of $3 and $5 for it's 3rd anniversary and kids' can ride for 50% off.
for more features.