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.