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Public Transit Agencies Prepare for Facility, Line Openings, Part 1; From BRT to Intercity Rail, New and Expanded Options

Public transportation agencies across the U.S. have big plans for this year, from introducing new vehicle fleets to opening new rail lines and extensions and opening BRT. Here are just a few examples of what’s ahead; Passenger Transport will report on additional openings and expansions in future issues.

LYNX in Orlando, FL, is preparing to introduce its third BRT route, the LYMMO Lime Line, in the spring.

AC Transit in Oakland, CA, will open its first BRT service late in the year, operating in a 9.5-mile corridor between the cities of Oakland and the San Leandro BART Station with a fleet of hybrid buses.

Lane Transit District, Eugene, OR, plans to open its third BRT line, West Eugene EmX (Emerald Express), in September. Funding for the $94.4 million, 4.5-mile expansion includes $75 million in federal funds, $17.8 million in Oregon Lottery Bonds and $1.6 million from ConnectOregon.

Light Rail and Modern Streetcar

Houston’s Metropolitan Transit Authority of Harris County (METRO) marked the completion of its light rail METRORail Green Line Jan. 9 with the opening of the Harrisburg Bridge over a north-south Union Pacific freight rail line. The Green Line now offers nine stops, linking downtown Houston to the Magnolia Park Transit Center in the city’s east end.

The Charlotte Area Transit System (CATS) expects to introduce light rail service on the Blue Line Extension this summer. The 9.3-mile extension will include 11 stations and four park-and-ride facilities with approximately 3,100 parking spaces.

CATS also plans to break ground in 2017 for CityLYNX Gold Line Phase 2, which will extend the current route west two miles and east one-half mile with 11 new stops when it opens in 2020. The service will use S70 Siemens modern streetcar vehicles powered with hybrid technology.

Denver’s Regional Transportation District (RTD) will open its newest light rail line, the 10.5-mile R Line, in 2017, allowing convenient connections to Denver International Airport, the Denver Tech Center and downtown Denver.

Valley Metro in Phoenix plans to break ground later this year for the 50th Street Station, the first light rail project slated under the Phoenix Transportation 2050 development plan. The new station is located on the original Valley Metro Rail line.

Seattle’s Sound Transit is preparing to break ground on two stations on the planned East Link light rail extension, Overlake Village and Redmond Technology Center. The line is scheduled to open in 2023.

The Foothill Gold Line Construction Authority, Monrovia, CA, will follow up the 2016 opening of the light rail segment from Pasadena to Asuza late this year by breaking ground for the 12.3-mile, six-station Glendora-Montclair segment.

Heavy Rail
The San Francisco Bay Area Rapid Transit District (BART) plans to open the Warm Springs Extension, with 5.4 miles of track and a new station ­farther south than the line’s ­current terminus in Fremont, CA, early in the year.

Both BART and the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency are preparing to receive new railcars, which will enter service later in the year.

The Chicago Transit Authority’s Illinois Medical District ­Station, on the Blue Line, is undergoing a renovation budgeted at $23 million and scheduled for completion in 2017.

Commuter and Intercity Rail
Sonoma Marin Area Rail Transit (SMART), Petaluma, CA, plans to open the first phase of commuter rail this spring, operating fare free until the July 4 holiday and then with discounted fares until Labor Day. SMART will operate diesel multiple unit railcars from Nippon Sharyo on the route, which will begin with a 37-mile stretch between Santa Rosa and San Rafael.

RTD in Denver will open G Line commuter rail during 2017, providing service to the city and its northwestern suburbs.

All Aboard Florida’s Brightline, a privately owned and operated intercity rail system in Florida, will begin service by the middle of 2017 between Miami and West Palm Beach, with an interim station in Fort Lauderdale. A subsequent extension will provide service to Orlando.

Amtrak officials hope to complete new stations in Meriden and Wallingford, CT, by May.

The South Florida Regional Transportation Authority, operator of Tri-Rail commuter rail, is preparing to open the Pompano Beach Station and Operations Center.

Houston METRO President & CEO Tom Lambert, right, joins other stakeholders before the inaugural ride of the METRORail Green Line across the Harrisburg Bridge.

Lane Transit District, Eugene, OR, plans to open its third BRT line, West EugeneEmX (Emerald Express), in September.


Sonoma-Marin Area Rail Transit is testing its trains in preparation for this year's introduction of service between Santa Rosa and San Rafael, CA.

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