This weekly post features news from other transit agencies and planners from around the world. Did we miss a good story? Let us know in the comments.
USDOT awards $186 million to Illinois to expand high-speed rail in the Midwest
Thanks to another grant from the federal government, higher-speed rail is coming to to the St. Louis–Chicago corridor. When completed, trains will be able to travel up to 110 mph for long stretches between the two Midwestern metros, shaving an hour off a trip that currently takes about five and a half hours, according to a USDOT press release. A DC Streetsblog post takes a big-picture look at the state of intercity rail in the nation’s breadbasket and finds incremental progress in a number of states, namely Michigan, Minnesota and Indiana.
Crossrail project: Digging to start on London tunnels
In a few months, Transport for London will embark on a massive transit expansion program to improve mobility in Western Europe’s largest city. The Crossrail project will bring an additional 1.5 million Britons within 45 minutes of central London, when it opens in 2018, via improvements to existing above-ground rail lines in the countryside and an additional 12 miles of subway tunnels deep under the British capitol. The key to digging those tunnels, of course, are tunnel-boring machines. The BBC details what it takes to manufacture these man-made earthworms and how they work once they’re set in motion.
San Francisco considers how to boost Muni ridership
San Francisco has set a lofty goal for itself: someday soon, only 50 percent of all trips in the city will be by car. Presently, closer to two-thirds of trips are by car, with the other third split roughly evenly between public transit and non motorized modes — i.e. biking and walking. But the kinds of improvements needed to get S.F. closer to its goal will cost money. The San Francisco Chronicle reports that the city’s transit agency, Muni, and civic leaders are holding meetings with stakeholders to explore a ballot measure to raise those badly-needed funds. While the article doesn’t go into great detail on what ails Muni from an operations standpoint, the system is infamous for its slow bus speeds and lackluster reliability. Enhancements like bus-only lanes and prepaid fares would go a long way on those fronts, but they cost money…hence the ballot measure proposal.
FTA OKs final design stage for Honolulu transit-rail project
The Honolulu metro area boasts the nation’s 9th highest rate of public transit usage for trips to work, according to a Brookings Institute report. Those riders will be glad to hear, then, that plans for the region’s first rail line have reached a key milestone: the Federal Transit Administration has given the green light for the local transit agency to begin the project’s final design. This New York Times piece examines how the train — 20-miles long, elevated and driverless — could change Honolulu, burnishing its image as a bustling modern metropolis. Detractors, however, are understandably worried about the visual impact of the proposed elevated structures.
Miami Metrorail connection to Miami International Airport nears finish line
Since it opened in 1984, Metrorail has helped residents of southeastern Florida navigate through the rapidly-growing Miami region. One thing it hasn’t done, though, is take them to the airport. But that’s about to change, thanks to a 2.4-mile extension to Miami International Airport, one of the East Coast’s busiest. Transportation Nation reports that the segment will link up with a multi-modal transportation hub that will also serve city buses, commuter rail and Amtrak. Much of the project is funded by a local half-cent sales tax — sound familiar? — and it’s set to open to the public in 2013.