Brightline CEO Finds Inspiration In The New York Mets And Henry Flagler

Dec 3, 2017

Dave Howard's background is in sports. He ran business operations for the company behind Madison Square Garden, and spent more than 20 years as an executive with the New York Mets, overseeing the design and development of the team's Citi Field.

So when he was offered the CEO job at Brightline, the high-speed rail service set to run from West Palm Beach to Miami, Howard says he was a little skeptical. But only briefly. He soon discovered lessons from the business of baseball apply to the business of Brightline.

A Brightline train makes a test run through Miami.
Credit Courtesy of Brightline

"We're selling tickets in a variety of forms -- individual tickets, packs of tickets, weeklies, monthlies... We're selling food and we're selling advertising," he said. "We're very focused on guest experience and hospitality."

"There are a lot of similarities."

But there's also a big difference. When he was with the Mets, Howard says he'd wake up in the morning and his first thought would be about the previous night's game. If the Mets had lost, his day was pretty much always off to a bad start.

With Brightline, "We don't have to worry about the team losing," he says. "That's a big plus."

Howard spoke with WLRN's Kate Stein.

Brightline says it plans to start passenger service from West Palm Beach to Fort Lauderdale before the end of 2017, with service to Miami beginning soon after.