Observations on South Florida business
Can you function without a car in Florida?
A decade ago, most of us would have answered no. But some people think it may now be possible in densely populated areas of South Florida, thanks to new and improved modes of transportation plus technology. In fact, some condo towers in downtown Miami offer no parking for their residents.
Consider a recent trip from the Brickell Financial District in Miami to a technology conference at the Broward County Convention Center in Fort Lauderdale.
The trip took only an hour, avoiding perpetually congested Interstate 95. From Brickell City Centre, a rider can hop on the Metromover, a 4.4-mile electrically powered automated people mover to the Brightline train station in downtown Miami. The elevated Metromover is free and runs loops around Brickell and downtown Miami.
The Brightline train is the newly launched hourly train service that connects Miami with Fort Lauderdale and West Palm Beach. The stations are brightly lit, there’s free Wi-Fi and well-stocked snack bars. Cost to ride to Fort Lauderdale: $15 to $20 for a one-way ticket.
The train whisks you to Fort Lauderdale from Miami in less than 30 minutes, enough time to check email using the free Wi-Fi onboard. From the Fort Lauderdale station to the Broward County Convention Center is a 10-minute ride with ride-sharing apps Lyft or Uber.
The return trip is just as easy and speedy. Bonus: you can change your train ticket if your meetings in Fort Lauderdale end early.
Is this enough to give up your car? Perhaps. There are still many reasons to keep driving, from grocery shopping to shuttling kids to and from school and events. Another obstacle may be cost: The round-trip travel to Fort Lauderdale from Miami using the train and ride-sharing cost about $50, double what it might cost in gas and parking.
But trains and ride-sharing save the aggravation and lost time sitting in traffic on I-95 and arterial roads. Plus, in about two years, the Brightline train line (to be renamed Virgin Trains after an investment by Richard Branson) will be extended to Orlando. Tampa is next.
More reasons to ditch the car? It’s now possible, at least for some destinations.
Blogging for entrepreneurs in Southwest Florida (SoWeFlo)