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South Florida Tri-Rail - Ft. Lauderdale / Miami.

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I thought I'd post this since I often see a question about transfers in South Florida specifically between Port of Miami and Ft Lauderdale.  

The Port of Miami is the busiest cruise port in the world.  Yet sometimes the Miami International Airport is not the best or least expensive airport to access South Florida.  Some airlines like Southwest don't fly there but they do fly to Ft. Lauderdale/Hollywood International Airport approximately 30 miles up the coast.  Often airfare and hotels are less expensive in Ft. Lauderdale which is great but then the challenge becomes how do you get down the coast to the Port of Miami when sailing from there?

My Miami area hotel offered a hotel-airport shuttle but only to the Miami airport.  My options were a cab ($80), ride-share like Uber or Lyft ($40) or... another option that cost just $3.75.  

Enter a local transportation option called "Tri Rail" http://www.tri-rail.com/

Tri Rail operates a train service from as far North as the West Palm Beach area South to Miami.  In my case I planned on taking it from the Ft. Lauderdale airport down to Miami where my hotel for the night was located before I boarded a cruise departing from the Port of Miami.   For the train stations involved the fare was really just $3.75.

Landing in Ft. Lauderdale I picked up my checked luggage and headed out to the transportation area.   Signs led me to the waiting area for the shuttle bus that would take me to the closest train station.  The shuttle buses are similar to the type of car rental shuttle buses many airports use.  What I wasn't expecting was the flash mob crowd that let no one off the bus before trying to board the bus.  

Once on the bus we stopped at a few more airport terminal before leaving the airport for the train station. At each terminal the flash mob returned and let no one off the bus before trying to board themselves.


The Tri-Rail shuttle to the train station.

After a 20 minute ride we arrived at the train station.  With no one manning the ticket both we all discovered one ticket kiosk was down leaving just one kiosk open.


With many new users it took about 15 minutes for my turn.  The shuttle bus is timed to the trains and around the time I was 3rd in line the train pulled up.  Five minutes later after the lady in front of me had her credit card declined three times before she attempted cash I finally had my ticket.



A Northbound train as I was waiting in line for my ticket.

The train was waiting and I made a dash for it given the alternative of waiting another 30-40 minutes for the next train.  Phew.

Safely inside my Southbound train I opted for seating close to my luggage.  Additional seating was available upstairs.



The ride itself was pretty painless and we flew past the interstate with bumper-to-bumper traffic.  

The ride ends after several stops near the rental car facility at Miami International Airport.  From here you take the rental car train to the main terminal.


Once aboard the rental car train we began our ride to the main airport area.  If anyone has rented a car at the Miami airport and rode that train you'll know it it quite the walk from the rental car train to any given terminal where in my case the hotel shuttle for my hotel would pick me up.    

In the end this option took twice as long as Uber/Lyft would have but cost me just $3.75.  

I had lots of time with an evening of just nothing but me alone in my hotel room so I took the Tri-Rail just to see what it's like.  There is no question a cab or ride-share would be much more convenient but also cost much more money.

In the end this was a very affordable way to get from Ft Lauderdale down to Miami.  It's isn't fast but it is low cost.  

I'd have no problem using it again if I had plenty of time to spare.

Tri-Rail does not operate 24 x 7 and weekend service is different compared to weekday service.  Review their website to learn more about schedules and other stations that are available along the Tri-Rail service corridor.  

Tri-Rail service ends on the Southern end at Miami International Airport.  From there you can grab a hotel shuttle, cab or ride-share to your final destination.  

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