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The Source for Public Transportation News and Analysis January 13, 2012
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New Transit Capital Projects Opening in 2012
BY SUSAN BERLIN, Senior Editor

Public transportation agencies throughout North America are engaged in providing more mobility choices for riders in 2012.  Here are a few examples of rail and Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) service expansions coming soon—and when they plan to enter service.

Pittsburgh’s Port Authority of Allegheny County plans to open the North Shore Connector in March. This 1.2-mile light rail link runs from Gateway Center to Allegheny Station, extending light rail service from downtown Pittsburgh into the city’s growing North Shore area, operating through twin tunnels underneath the Allegheny River.

The project includes two new stations, North Side and Allegheny, and reconstruction of the Gateway Station. The North Shore is home to destinations including PNC Park, Heinz Field, the Carnegie Science Center, the Andy Warhol Museum, and the Children’s Museum of Pittsburgh.

Miami-Dade Transit is preparing for the spring opening of Miami Airport Link, a 2.4-mile elevated Metrorail extension that will connect Earlington Heights Station to Miami Intermodal Center Station, adjacent to Miami International Airport.

Los Angeles Metro will introduce service this spring on the first 6.5 miles of Expo Line light rail, from downtown Los Angeles to Culver City.

“We’re working out the technical glitches as we look to open in the spring,” said Marc Littmann, deputy executive officer, public relations. “We’ve expanded the testing program in preparation for opening, and we’re making process.”

In addition: in Boston, the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority’s 4.5-mile Fitchburg Line commuter rail extension to Wachusett, and the Sacramento Regional Transit District’s Green Line, a 1-mile light rail route connecting downtown to the River District.

Also in Los Angeles, Metro will extend BRT service on the Metro Orange Line in the summer, adding four miles and four new stations to the line between the Canoga Station and the Chatsworth Metrolink Station.

Dallas Area Rapid Transit (DART) is preparing to open portions of two light rail lines in 2012. The Orange Line will launch service on two segments this year: Phase 1, 5.4 miles from Bachman Station to Irving Convention Center Station, will open July 30, while the 3.9-mile second phase, from Irving Convention Center Station to Belt Line Station, opens Dec. 3. The ultimate goal of the line is Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport.

Other projects due to enter service during the summer: the Regional Transit Authority’s Union Passenger Terminal/Loyola Avenue Corridor, a 1-mile streetcar line in New Orleans, and MTA New York City Transit’s Nostrand/Rogers Avenues BRT, 9.3 miles from the Williamsburg Bridge to Sheepshead Bay in Brooklyn.

This fall, the Chicago Transit Authority (CTA) will initiate BRT service on the Jeffery Corridor from 67th Street to 83rd Street.

This pilot project incorporates dedicated bus lanes, running northbound during the morning rush and southbound for evening rush; standardized stations at half-mile intervals; and transit signal priority for BRT vehicles.

In addition: the 1.8-mile light rail Northeast Line Extension in Calgary, AB; Monterey-Salinas Transit’s Monterey Jazz, a 6.75-mile BRT route connecting Sand City to downtown Monterey, CA; and the Eastside Streetcar Loop in Portland, OR, which travels 3.3 miles from the Pearl District to the Riverfront District.

On Dec. 3, DART will launch service on a 4.5-mile extension to the Blue Line between downtown Garland and downtown Rowlett, TX.

Sound Transit in Seattle is preparing to extend its Sounder commuter rail line by an additional eight miles late this year. The new Lakewood Extension will operate from Tacoma Dome to Lakewood Station.

“We’re very thrilled, as is the city of Lakewood. The residents have been waiting for this extension for several years,” said Kimberly Reason, media relations specialist, Sound Transit. “This has been long in the making—and we’re excited about extending commuter rail further south, because we have many people who want to use our line.”

In December, Montréal’s Agence metropolitaine de transport (AMT) will initiate service on Train de l’Est, a 32-mile commuter rail line connecting downtown Montréal and Mascouche with 11 new stations. AMT estimates that the new rail line—which fills a current gap in regional infrastructure—will carry 5,500 passengers during an average weekday peak period.

Late in 2012, the Minnesota Valley Transit Authority (MVTA) in Burnsville, MN, will launch service on the state’s first BRT service, using standard 40-foot buses to cover 16 miles from Bloomington to Lakeville via Eagan and Apple Valley.

Rather than establishing dedicated lanes, said MVTA Customer Relations Manager Robin Selvig, “in Minnesota we operate with bus-only shoulders. Construction workers have been reinforcing the shoulders in preparation for the new service.”

Selvig explained that MVTA currently operates both all-day local and peak period express service along the Cedar Avenue corridor. The BRT route is expected to operate on a 15-minute headway for 18-20 hours a day, seven days a week.

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