What's happening at other transit agencies?

The University-Link light rail runnel will speed up trips for Seattleites along this busy corridor. Photo by flickr user Oran Viriyincy.

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.

Seattle, Wash., tunnel-boring machine breaks through in Capitol Hill

The $1.9-billion project to connect the University of Washington to downtown Seattle via light rail subway hit a milestone. The second of two tunnel-boring machines has arrived at the future Capitol Hill station. The Seattle Post-Intelligencer was on hand to capture the scene as the football-field-length boring machine broke through. The P-I adds: “The U-Link project, set to open in 2016, is about halfway completed and on schedule, Sound Transit reports.” As someone who lived in Seattle, I can attest to value the rail link will bring, as it will make what’s currently a 30-minute transit trip into more like a ten-minute trip.

Bus-Rapid Transit advocates launch online BRT database

Two organizations, EMBARQ and BRT Across Latitudes and Cultures, have collaborated to produce an exciting online BRT database available at brtdata.org. The resource includes detailed information and specifications on over one hundred BRT systems in 36 countries, including Los Angeles County Metro’s Orange Line — but, curiously, not the Silver Line or any other Metro Rapid lines. EMBARQ Director of Research and Practice Dario Hidalgo describes “the website’s aim as providing “reliable and up-to-date data to help researchers, transit agencies, city officials, and NGOs understand and make better decisions to improve BRT and bus corridors in their cities.” Check it out!

New York State government assures capital funding to NYC Metro

Transit advocates and local officials anxiously watched this year as the NYC Metro’s budget for its five-year capital investment plan ran down to zero only two years in. But thanks to an agreement between the governor and state legislator, reports Transportation Nation, the MTA is now guaranteed to receive several billion dollars extra to modernize its fleet of trains and buses, as well as push forward on several major infrastructure projects. TN enumerates: “Those megaprojects are the Second Avenue subway on the East Side of Manhattan, access to Grand Central Terminal for the Long Island Rail Road, the Fulton Street Transit Center near the World Trade Center and the westward extension of 7 train past its last stop in Times Square. They are among the largest infrastructure projects underway in the U.S.”

Poll: Plurality of Massachusetts voters support a state bailout for MBTA

The Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority has the dubious distinction of holding nearly $10 billion in debt, making it the most indebted transit agency in the U.S. It’s not entirely the agency’s fault, though: Much of that debt was dumped on its books by the Commonwealth when the agency was reconstituted in 2000. Tough luck, though. Perhaps the state’s residents had that bit of history in mind when they responded to a recent survey. The Boston Globe reports that the statewide survey found that 40 percent would support a state bailout of the agencies debt, with 34 percent opposed and the remainder undecided. Support was particularly strong, unsurprisingly, in the greater Boston area. The poll came at a time when the MBTA has had to raise fares sharply in order to meet its financial obligations. Subway fares will go up 30 percent and bus trips by 25 cents.

Improving public transit is key to Quebec’s transportation future, minister says

Public transit has been a key feature of the transportation system in the French-Canadian Province for 100 years. However, a recent series of high-profile safety lapses threw Transport Quebec into upheaval and lead to the ouster of the head transport minister, according to the Montreal Gazette. Reporter Andy Riga sat down with the ministry’s new head to talk about what the agency can do to increase the agency’s focus on transit and grow transit ridership in the region.

5 replies

  1. “Transit advocates and local officials anxiously watched this year as the NYC Metro’s budget for its five-year capital investment plan ran down to zero only two years in.”

    “The Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority has the dubious distinction of holding nearly $10 billion in debt, making it the most indebted transit agency in the U.S.”

    Metro should learn from the mistakes of the NYMTA and Boston MBTA. No one wants higher taxes, higher fares, and huge service cuts. I hope Metro is paying close attention and learns from what NYMTA and MBTA were doing wrong to avoid their mistakes.

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  2. “Metro should learn from the mistakes of the NYMTA and Boston MBTA.”

    The MBTA was forced to pay for projects as mitigation for the Big Dig, and the state did not fund them, only allowing the MBTA to continue to sell bonds.

    In New York, the state and city simply whittled down their contributions to the MTA, and then a few years ago the state started taking money that was once legally dedicated to the MTA. And when most of the system is between 80 and 100 years old, it’s tougher to build revenue-generating expansions when the current system needs so much work.

    Metro did learn from Boston and New York, hence Measure R. Los Angeles was also fortunate that Measure R was passed by all of Los Angeles County, instead of just, say, the city of Los Angeles. In New York, the MTA must constantly balance the City and the suburbs (especially Nassau County), while the New Jersey (and to a point Connecticut) suburbs contribute nothing financially to the City’s transit system other than the fares their citizens pay when riding.

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  3. “but, curiously, not the Silver Line or any other Metro Rapid lines. ”

    That’s because they are not BRT. The Rapid bus lines offer the service that citizens in the rest of the industrial world expect on main corridors. The Silver Li(n)e is a premium fare bus that offers no premium service apart from using free interstate highways that would not add any cost in any other city in the world. And as it operates at 40-minute headways in off-peak, its no better than some pokey local.

    Build bus-only lanes in the city center, add some on-street TVMs or put Over-the-Road coaches or double-deckers on these routes and then you might justify getting classified as BRT.

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  4. NYMTA is a STATE agency. It is Albany and the Governor’s appointees who have the final say on mass transit in New York City. The Mayor of NY City is out on the curb begging for his vision. All the major agencies: New York City Transit, LIRR, Metro North in cooperation with the state of Connecticut, and more, are all under the Albany MTA umbrella. This is a far different model of funding than we have in CA with almost exclusively local money funding the majority of transit projects, operations, and other costs.

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  5. Mass transit in America: socialist, run by big brother government, totally dependent on stealing more from people’s paychecks especially when American paychecks aren’t rising, poorly managed, inefficient bureaucracy, no business skills, poor service, dirtier stations, broken down trains, more service cuts, higher fares, higher taxes.

    Mass transit in Asia: capitalist, run by private companies that trade mass transit stocks on their stock exchanges, for profit enterprise, main goal is to make money for shareholders, very efficient, good management, great business skills, great service, clean stations, latest high tech trains, higher frequencies, low fares, less reliant on taxes.

    Care to guess which one seems to be working?

    Hmm, last time I checked, NYMTA, MBTA, and LA Metro were not on the NYSE, whereas JR East, HKMTR, and SMRT are all publicly traded in Tokyo, Hong Kong, and Singapore stock exchanges. Hint Hint.

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