What’s happening at other transit agencies?

Expect to see more of these along the Embarcadero by the end of the year. Photo by flickr user Ame Otoko.

New historic streetcar line & bike sharing pilot planned for SF in time for America’s Cup

What does the America’s Cup yacht race have to do with transit? No, schooners aren’t pulling double-duty as ferries. Rather, San Francisco is ramping up public transit and bike-sharing investments in advance of the race, reports California Streets Blog. Of particular note, the city is hoping to roll out in time for the race its second historic streetcar line, the E-Embarcadero, which will run along existing tracks between the Caltrain terminal and Fisherman’s Warf.

Curitiba (Brazil) to solicit bids a for $1.31 billion subway line

Those who follow transit innovation probably think of bus-rapid transit when they hear Curitiba mentioned — the city pioneered BRT in the 1970s. To the BRT system’s credit, transit ridership has flourished in the city to the tune of 2.3 million daily transit trips — all on rubber tires — in a region of around three million residents. With the BRT system at full capacity, the city is now partnering with the state and national governments and the private sector to develop its first subway line. According to Business News Americas, the $1.31-billion line would cover 8.5 miles and serve 13 stations.

Amtrak improvements bring faster passenger service, more ridership

With a national transportation bill working its way through the legislative pipeline, it’s become clear that some in Congress would be content to ditch the national intercity railway Amtrak. But maybe all Amtrak needed was some TLC, not tough love. After all, it seems to be breaking its own ridership records all the time [PDF] — eght of the last nine years, in fact.

Along one Amtrak line in Vermont, relatively inexpensive improvements have improved on-time performance by 99 percent — yes, 99 percent — by reducing “minutes behind schedule” from about 11,000 to 135, according to the Burlington Free Press.

And for the first time, Amtrak will operate 110 mile-per-hour train service on a line outside the Northeast Corridor. The lucky riders? Folks along the Wolverine Line, which connects Chicago to Detroit via Indiana. For now the 110 mph corridor will span 97 miles between Porter, Ind., and Kalamazoo, Mich. A Michigan DOT press release [PDF] notes that the higher speeds — now allowed thanks to positive train control — should shave 20 minutes off the end-to-end trip, versus when trains ran at 79 mph over that stretch back in 2001.

Honolulu given go-ahead to begin heavy construction on rail

Hawaii’s first rail line has received the “all clear” to begin construction from the federal government. The 20-mile line will eventually connect downtown Honolulu to the international airport, Pearl Harbor and points beyond. The Honolulu Star Advertiser says that construction could start on the $5.2-billion aerial line this year. Despite the high transit ridership in the state’s capitol, the project hasn’t won unanimous support: some vocal groups oppose the large price tag and others the visual impacts of the aerial structures.

Indonesia to hit train roof riders with nasty goop

Indonesia apparently has a problem with rooftop train riders — folks looking to avoid crowded train cars, catch a free ride or get a cheap thrill. In response, the national railway has rolled out a series of counter measures, including the gruesome — concrete balls hanging close above the train — and now the gross. The AP reports that the scofflaw riders can expect to be walloped with “brooms drenched in putrid goop.” The recipe, apparently, is an agency secret.