The Metropolitan Transit Authority of Harris County, which operates Houston’s METRORail light rail, marked groundbreaking for two new light rail lines Monday with three distinct ceremonies.
Groundbreaking for the METRORail North Line was held early Monday morning at the Northline Mall on Fulton Street, while a second ceremony, scheduled to occur simultaneously, was held for the Southeast Line at The PalmCenter on Griggs Road. A third, joint ceremony at roughly 10:30 a.m. marking the start of construction for both lines took place at Union Station in Minute Maid Park.
The North Line will run from the existing University of Houston Downtown Station, current northern terminus of the existing Red Line LRT service, to North Line Mall. The Southeast Line will run from downtown (linking with the Red Line) toTexas Southern University and the University of Houston.
“What this is all about is connecting communities,” said METRORail spokesman George Smalley. “It’s making it easier for people to get to a job, a medical facility or get to school. So, it is going to change the look of Houston and the feel of Houston and how we move about.”
Houston METRORail’s 7.5-mile Red Line, which opened on Jan. 1, 2004, currently handles about 39,500 weekday riders. After all five LRT lines (existing and proposed) are in operation, METRORail estimates ridership of 129,000 per day by 2030.
Responding to a July 10 New York Times article by Elisabeth Rosenthal entitled “Buses May Aid Climate Battle in Poor Cities,” Lyndon Henry, a data analyst for Austin, Tex.’s Capital Metropolitan Transportation Authority and also a technical consultant with Light Rail Now!, wrote the following. As of July 13, the Times had not yet published the response.
Responding to a July 10 New York Times article by Elisabeth Rosenthal entitled “Buses May Aid Climate Battle in Poor Cities,” Lyndon Henry, a data analyst for Austin, Tex.’s Capital Met ...
Conceptual route alternatives for a streetcar operation in downtown Los Angeles have been released by Los Angeles Streetcar, Inc. (LASI), a nonprofit group charged with giving the City of Angels a streetcar by 2014. The routes all serve three distinct areas.
"Part of the logic behind defining this Core ServiceArea was to transport people to/from areas they want to get to today, like the LA Live/Staples/Convention area and Bunker Hill/Civic Center, but also route them through the locations they might not have known about or seen previously, like a Broadway corridor or Pico Blvd," said Executive Director Dennis Allen.
"This is all part of the two-pronged approach that streetcar systems need to take, as a local circulator and transportation solution, and as one of the best economic development tools to surface in recent times," Allen said.
The plan utilizes north and south tracks running on separate streets for some portions of the route(s), and “mini routes” such as a South Park loop.
LASI will hold a community open house at the Bradbury Building on July 29 for public input.
The Canadian Transportation Agency has ruled that the proposed construction and operation of a passenger rail service between Toronto's Union Station and Lester B. Pearson International Airport does not fall under federal jurisdiction. Union-Pearson AirLink Group (UPAG), the primary proponent of such a link, therefore will not be required to obtain an agency-issued certificate of fitness, nor will it have to seek federal approvals under the Canada Transportation Act and the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act for the proposed railway line.
The CTA found that the new passenger rail service would not be functionally integrated with the operations of the federally regulated Greater Toronto Airports Authority (GTAA), which operates Pearson International Airport. Italso noted that the proposed facilities would not be an essential or integral part of the GTAA's activities.CTA's decision of the jurisdictional status of UPAG's project is based on evidence provided by the applicant, and could be revisited should the project not be developed as presented.
New Jersey Gov. Jon Corzine Friday joined Port Authority of New York & New Jersey officials in marking the official launch of PATH’s PA-5 fleet. PATH scheduled ceremonies at PATH’s hub at Journal Square in Jersey City, N.J., subsequently offering a ceremonial PA-5 consist from Journal Square to Hoboken.
All 340 PA-5 cars are expected to be in service by 2011, replacing existing PA-2, PA-3, and PA-4 cars currently in service. PATH awarded a contract in April 2005 to Kawasaki Rail Car, Inc., for the new cars now being placed in service. Kawasaki’s Yonkers, N.Y., assembly plant is involved in the manufacture of the fleet.
Delivery to PATH began in the latter half of 2008, and a small number of PA-5 cars have been running during the first half of 2009 in revenue test operations throughout the bistate system.
Canadian Pacific and Wisconsin & Southern Railroad Co. will share $571,107 in stimulus funds, funneled through the state of Wisconsin, for the installation of devices to reduce diesel emissions for 40 locomotives.
Milwaukee-based Wisconsin & Southern Railroad Co., winner of Railway Age’s 2009 Regional Railroad of the Year Award, will install the devices on 34 switch locomotives. Wisconsin’s grant to CP will help the Class I railroad install devices on six locomotives.
The Wisconsin project aims to reduce emissions from switch locomotives at rail yards and address the energy efficiency of rail fleets by installing automatic start/stop devices to control idling.
Idle reduction devices will reduce fuel consumption and emissions by 50% to 70%, Wisconsin Gov. Jim Doyle said in announcing the funding.
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency awarded the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act funds to the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources which, in turn, will direct the funds to the railroads.
After a flurry of late-spring optimism, the national economy at midyear shows no strong signs of recovery—and, as the Association of American Railroads noted Thursday, freight traffic on U.S. railroads "continues to parallel the nation's overall economic condition."
In the holiday week ended July 4, rail carload traffic was down 15.6% from the corresponding week last year; intermodal volume was off 12.8%; and total volume, measured in ton-miles, was down 14.3%.
Carload volume was off 23.0% in the East and 11.1% in the West. Out of a total of 19 carload commodity groups, 18 were down in the most recent week; the declines ranged from 3.3% for coal to 72.4% for metallic ores.
Canadian railroads fared no better, with carload volume down 20.5% in the week ended July 4 and intermodal volume off 18.7%. In Mexico, carload traffic fell 40.2% and intermodal traffic was down 42.0%.
AAR noted that, effective with the week ended July 4, Canadian National now incorporates traffic of the Elgin, Joliet & Eastern Railway (EJ&E). All CN 2008 and 2009 data has been restated on a pro-forma basis to include EJ&E traffic as if it was part of CN since Jan. 1, 2008. The former EJ&E traffic is now included in the Canadian total, not the U.S. totals.
Los Angeles’ east-west Green Line light rail transit operation has generated ridership despite falling short (by roughly two miles) of a logical passenger generator: Los Angeles International Airport. Now a City Council committee has urged airport officials to conduct a six-month study of such a link.
"It's a no-brainer that every major airport has a rail line going into it," said Los Angeles City Councilman Bill Rosendahl, whose district includes LAX.
The two-mile proposed extension for the 20-mile Green Line is estimated to cost $200 million, likely be funded by Measure R, which Los Angeles County voters approved last fall. The half-cent county sales tax measure took effect this month and is expected to generate $40 billion for local transportation projects during the next 30 years.
Beyond funding issues, a Green Line extension now is deemed more due to the city’s recent purchase of a parking lot next to the airport that could be used as a station site.
The Green Line, costing $718 million, opened in 1995. Much of its route sits in the median of the Century Freeway (Interstate 105). Its current western terminus is at Marine/Redondo Station; a free shuttle busconnection from Aviation Station offers access to LAX.
Though direct airport access by rail has been stymied for more than a decade, weekday ridership on the line averaged about 38,301 in May. By contrast, elder sister Blue Line, serving downtown Los Angeles, averaged 80,175 during May.
Urban neighbors and rivals Dallas and Fort Worth, Tex., have reached agreement on complementary passenger rail access to Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport, with both cities achieving direct access to the airport itself.
Under the current agreement, Fort Worth Transportation Authority will proceed with its “T” regional rail service through northeastern Tarrant County and Grapevine, connecting to the airport by running the tracks parallel to InternationalParkway and dead-ending at Terminal B.
For its part, Dallas Area Rapid Transit will extend its DART Orange Line light rail through Irving to the airport’s Terminal A, including a ground-level, dogleg turn around the northeastern edge of the airfield. Both rail operations could be connected by a walkway between Terminals A and B.
The plan also allows for the possibility of new options on the airport’s north end, such as if DART proceeds with developing its Cotton Belt line from Coppell to eastern cities such as Plano. Such a plan is not scheduled to be completed until 2028, but DART is weighing a public-private partnership to accelerate the proposal’s implementation.
DART’s options include extending a branch of Orange Line LRT to the Cotton Belt. But that could require future airport-bound travelers on the Forth Worth “T” to transfer at Grapevine for airport access, a plan officials in Tarrant County have panned.