Minneapolis’ Metropolitan Council will open the America Boulevard Station (at 34th Avenue) to Hiawatha Line light rail riders Saturday, after dedicating the station Wednesday, one month ahead of deadline.
The new stop is the final one of 19 planned stops on the original plans for the route, but construction of the $3.3 million station was deferred due to redesign of the southern portion of the 12-mile route, according to Bob Gibbons, director of customer services for Metro Transit.
America Boulevard Station is northeast of the Mall of America and a short distance from Bloomington Central Station. Three hotels, an office complex, and large long-term parking lots are located nearby. The area, which is called Airport South, is slated for redevelopment, and Bloomington officials view the new station as a component to those plans.
The station opening follows completion last month of the north end of the line, when a new station at Target Field opened that serves both the Hiawatha Line and the new Northstar commuter rail line.
A passenger rail package that passed the Florida House on Monday would create a new regional rail system for Central Florida (SunRail), provide annual funding for for the existing Tri-Rail system serving southeastern Florida, and authorize a new venture into high speed passenger rail.
In the state Senate, however, the bill barely survived its first committee vote, winning 5-4 after a pro-rail senator replaced a member of the Transportation Committee who was absent due to illness. On a tie vote the bill would have died.
The main provision of the bill would authorize the state to pay CSX Corp. $432 million for 61.5 miles of track for the long-planned SunRail regional passenger system serving Orlando and other points in Orange, Osceola, Seminole, and Volusia counties. CSX would retain the right to operate freight trains on the line under stated conditions.
The bill would also require the state to pay an annual premium of about $2 billion for $200 million in liability insurance for SunRail.
For Tri-Rail in southeastern Florida, the bill provides $13 million to $15 million in annual operating assistance.
Through earmarks totaling $2.5 billion over 30 years, mostly in federal funds, the bill would set into motion planning for a high speed rail system in the Tampa-Orlando-Miami corridor.
The New York Metropolitan Transportation Authority has learned that revenue from a new payroll tax for transit will run about $200 million short of expectations, a development that MTA's chief financial officer, Gary Dellaverson, called "shocking" in an email message to board members.
The payroll tax is part of an MTA aid package that the state legislature put together last spring.
Dellaverson said the agency was concerned "both because of the magnitude of the underrun (20%) and the late date of its discovery." An operating budget of around $10 billion is to be presented to the board for its approval next week.
The MTA had to cope earlier with a reduction in the support it receives from an urban real estate that was hard hit by the recession. Dellaverson said in November that to close that gap it would need to tap $150 million in reserves.
Amtrak says its ridership during the Thanksgiving Day week this year set an “all-time record,” with ridership up 4% compared with the comparable period in 2008; ticket revenue rose 1% compared with the year-ago period.
Amtrak says 685,876 trips took place between Nov. 24 and Nov. 30, generating $44.1 million in ticket revenue, which it claims is “the best weekly performance in company history.”
“Once again, our performance illustrates the growing popularity of passenger rail service, which is a credit to our front line employees who operate a great railroad,” said Emmett Fremaux, vice president, Marketing and Product Development. “To outperform our previous ridership record from FY08, when gas prices were much higher, is a great accomplishment.”
“On behalf of the entire executive team, I want to thank every employee for their dedication to safety and customer service during such a busy time,” said President and CEO Joe Boardman.