What's happening at other transit agencies?

BART's board has voted to approve a contract to replace its aging rail fleet. Photo by flickr user skew-t.

BART's board has voted to approve a contract to replace its aging rail fleet. Photo by flickr user skew-t.

BART board approves $896-million contract for new rail fleet

The latest in the ongoing saga of BART’s efforts to replace its aging fleet of custom railcars: BART’s Board of Directors has approved a nearly $900-million contract with Canadian train (and jet) manufacturer Bombardier. The San Francisco Appeal online newspaper notes that the contract’s schedule would have the first batch of 410 new rail cars available by 2017, with an option for an additional 366 cars in 2023 – right around when the oldest rail cars in BART’s fleet would be reaching their half-century mark.

Federal Transit Administration announces $5.1 mil to enhance Reno bus rapid transit service

The FTA has awarded Reno a nice chunk of money to improve service on one of its BRT lines that connects popular destinations, like downtown and the University of Nevada, Reno campus. Fox Reno reports that the funding will support the purchase of new hybrid buses and a the construction of a new bus fueling depot. The grant comes on the heals of a nearly $7-million grant from the federal Congestion Mitigation and Air Quality Improvement (CMAQ) program for the construction of stations on the BRT line.

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What's happening at other transit agencies?

The Institute for Transportation Development & Policy hopes to define the gold standard for BRT (and Silver and Bronze too). Photo via ITDP.

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.

Bus rapid transit systems getting an international rating standard

The Institute for Transportation & Development Policy — an organization that “works with cities worldwide to bring about transport solutions that cut greenhouse gas emissions, reduce poverty, and improve the quality of urban life” — has released a report card that seeks to standardize the way we assess the quality of bus rapid transit lines.

After all, a variety of bus lines get lumped in together as BRT, despite having very different levels of amenities, speed, frequency, etc. ITDP sought to remedy that by assigning points to different factors that play an important role in the quality of a BRT line. Then, depending on how many points a given line picks up, you end up with a ranking of gold (85–100 points ), Silver (70–84 points), Bronze (50–69 points); anything lower and ostensibly it’s not BRT at all.

The features that will earn you the most points include some of the big time-savers like off-board fare collection, a segregated right-of-way and level boarding. The report doesn’t go through the steps of actually assigning scores to existing services, but it does give a shout-out to the Metro Orange Line for doing a good job integrating bicycling infrastructure.

New York bike share gets a name, price schedule

New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg announced Monday that the city’s soon-to-debut bike-sharing program has a name: Citi Bikes. The New York Times reports that the name comes courtesy of Citibank, which has ponied up for the official corporate naming rights to the tune of a $42 million contribution to the program. That money and other private contributions mean no public funding will be required for the system, which will feature 10,000 bikes docked at 600 stations spread throughout lower Manhattan and downtown Brooklyn.

The Transportation Nation blog breaks down what it will cost you to rent a bike and how that compares to other cities’ bike sharing programs. For $95 per year, all rides under 45 minutes will be free of charge. After that, fees will be tacked on to discourage New Yorkers from hanging onto one bike all day.

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What's happening at other transit agencies?

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.

SFMTA launches Transit Effectiveness Project

The San Francisco agency that runs its network of buses and light rail is holding a series of meetings to introduce the public to its recently-launched Transit Effectiveness Project. The program is designed “to improve reliability and provide quicker trips for Muni customers,” according to the project website. The program in particular seeks to develop a Rapid Muni network — sounds familiar — along the busiest transit corridors in San Francisco. The proposal seems to draw a healthy amount of inspiration from Metro’s own Rapid bus program, which is now going on 12 years. A rundown of proposed changes would speed up buses by reducing sources of delay. Those changes include features that should be a real boon to the transit-riding public, namely: “adding sidewalk extensions and boarding islands; replacing stop signs with traffic signals or other measures; transit stop changes including moving stops, eliminating stops, and adding new stops; traffic engineering changes such as adding turn lanes, turn restrictions, and transit-only lanes; and pedestrian improvements such as curb extensions and other crosswalk treatments.”

Dramatic changes on London streets in the congestion pricing era

Since London implemented congestion pricing in the city center — a policy that requires drivers to pay a fee to offset the cost of delays they cause to others — Londoners have responded with some pretty remarkable travel shifts. A DC Streetsblog analysis of the data found that people are switching to transit and bicycling in big numbers. The latter is up 110 percent since the congestion fee was put into place, and transit riders have benefited from having congestion fee revenues plowed into service enhancements. Streetsblog also has some excellent visualizations of where the greatest decreases in driving have occurred; head over there for the fun maps.

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What's happening at other transit agencies?

Nostalgic New Yorkers enjoy a special ride on a

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.

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What's happening at other transit agencies?

One of many transit lines in the growing system for the Salt Lake City basin. Photo by Nancy White, via Flickr.

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.

Opening soon(ish)

Utah Transit Authority to open new commuter-rail line in December

A 45-mile extension of the Salt Lake-area’s FrontRunner commuter rail line will open later this year to Provo, Utah, the home of Brigham Young University. The line is one of several that have opened in the last few years — or will open soon — as part of Salt Lake City’s locally funded transit expansion program, FrontLines. Progressive Railroading has additional details on the commuter rail line here.

Groundbreakings

$196.6 million Tucson streetcar project breaks ground

Tucson, Ariz., broke ground this week on a 3.8-mile streetcar line that will connect downtown Tucson to the University of Arizona and a variety of other activity centers along the way. This press release from the U.S. Department of Transportation notes that 85,000 residents live or work within walking distance of the line. Most importantly, the line is expected to substantially improve transit trip times along the corridor. $63 million of the project’s cost is coming from USDOT’s competitive transit grant funding program TIGER.

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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!

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What's happening at other transit agencies?

The Boston Red Line speeds out of Park Street Station, much like it did 100 years ago. Photo by flickr user brentdanley.

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.

Boston Red Line’s 100th anniversary

Boston’s venerable Red Line subway is celebrating its 100th year in service in 2012 — and just think the Metro Blue Line is a mere 78 years away from that milestone! What else was happening in 1912 when the line opened, thus connecting the Harvard Square and Park Street Station? For one, the Red Sox auspiciously won the World Series, and somewhat inauspiciously that was the year the Titanic sank. All the while the subway — originally called the Cambridge Main Street Subway — has chugged along to the tune of over 200,000 daily riders. The Boston Globe has a very Art of Transit–worthy collection of historical photos of the line that is definitely worth a click.

In San Bernardino County, Omnitrans’ college student fares arrive at 1 million trips

Omnitrans’ Go Smart student fare program logged its one millionth rider during the one-year pilot program, reports the Riverside Press-Enterprise. That’s an exciting, but not necessarily surprising result. Students at participating colleges get “free” rides on Omnitrans just by swiping their student ID cards. Students actually contribute to funding the student fare program through an additional student fees. The P-E notes that the program has also been “funded by 14 local cities, San Bernardino County” and Omnitrans. A transit agency official told the P-E that the additional student ridership has helped boost overall ridership by nearly nine percent over the course of the year. The trial program will end on June 30 this year; we’ll try to find out what the prospects are for it being re-upped.

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