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.
Ride to ballgame on vintage train transports fans to another era
The New York subway trains above enjoyed their heyday from the 1920s to the 1960s, but they’re always a popular attraction when New York City Transit rolls them out on special runs. The New York Times recounts a recent run to Yankee Stadium by a four-car “Lo-V” train — short for “low voltage” — that attracted transit riders hoping to recapture an experience that one might have had decades ago en route to see Ruth, Gerhig and Mantle. While it’s nice to connect with history, I’ve got to imagine that on a day-to-day basis, most New Yorkers would pick a modern train’s convenience (read: air conditioning), especially in the dog days of August.
Alameda–Contra Costa Transit begins fueling buses with hydrogen made from solar electricity and water
The nexus of public transit and energy is a huge one. Transit agency energy bills run in the millions annually, and transit vehicles can play an important role in improving air quality — assuming, that is, that the buses and trains run on clean energy sources, as L.A. County Metro’s entire fleet now does. The East Bay’s Alameda–Contra Costa Transit is going for a double-whammy: developing a system that allows the agency to use a clean fuel (hydrogen) generated from a clean system (solar power). Marketwatch (via PR Newswire) has the details on the agency’s new hydrogen-generating system, which will fuel AC Transit’s “twelve 40-foot hybrid-electric, zero-emission fuel cell buses.” The hydrogen generator and dispenser allows AC Transit to refuel its fuel cell buses just as quickly as it would a diesel bus — important for keeping buses on the road and serving customers. And thanks to a grant from the California Air Resources Board, one of these hydrogen fueling stations will be made available to the general public.
North Carolina state government OKs money for light rail extension
The Charlotte metro area’s transit expansion — we covered it last year — got a boost from the state government, which has agreed to kick in a quarter of the cost of a 9.4-mile light rail extension to the University of North Carolina’s Charlotte campus. The Charlotte Observer reports that half of the funding for the $1.2-billion project is expected to come from the feds, with the rest being covered by the Charlotte Area Transit System (CATS). The extension will add another 11 stations to the existing Blue Line’s 15 stations. Construction is set to begin next year, with the extension’s opening scheduled for 2017.
Aging transit systems grapple with repair backlog
If anyone is still unconvinced that the nation needs to pass a comprehensive transportation bill — like, yesterday — this story from the Associated Press distills the bleak state of many of the nation’s older transit systems. One particularly eye-opening example: “In Philadelphia…commuters ride trains over rusty steel bridges, some of them dating back to the 19th century.” Meanwhile, a rebounding economy and high gas prices are driving national transit ridership to new records, which is being borne by local agencies grappling with their own funding problems.
Atlanta regional transit hub gets traction
The Georgia Department of Transportation is partnering with three private sector firms to develop a regional transportation hub in downtown Atlanta, dubbed the MultiModal Passenger Terminal (MMPT). The project’s website describes the aim as the following:
Current facilities in Atlanta for intercity rail, intercity bus and local/regional transit are inadequate, poorly connected and capacity constrained. Providing improved connections between the various existing transportation services is required to improve utilization of existing services as well as facilitate system expansion. The purpose of the MMPT is to replace these inadequate and disconnected transportation facilities, connect modes of transportation [e.g. bus, train, taxi, bike, foot, etc.] , increase transit ridership and facilitate and accommodate future transportation investments and economic development.
An Atlanta Journal Constitution column by Tom Sabulis notesthat part of the project would require utilizing tracks currently owned and operated by private freight companies CSX and Norfolk Southern — and that will require some careful negotiation. The other big hurdle is, unsurprisingly, funding needed to fulfill the public side of this public-private partnership. And that may come down to whether or not Atlanta-area voters approve a regional transit sales tax measure on the ballot this fall.