Transit Briefs: BART, HART, Metra

Written by Marybeth Luczak, Executive Editor
Honolulu Authority for Rapid Transit on May 10 took delivery of the 19th of 20 four-car light metro trains from Hitachi. It is gearing up for a June 30 launch of the first 10.8-mile segment of its nearly 20-mile line. (HART Photograph)

Honolulu Authority for Rapid Transit on May 10 took delivery of the 19th of 20 four-car light metro trains from Hitachi. It is gearing up for a June 30 launch of the first 10.8-mile segment of its nearly 20-mile line. (HART Photograph)

San Francisco Bay Area Rapid Transit District (BART) is bringing wireless broadband to its Fleet of the Future cars. Also, the launch date has been announced for Honolulu Authority for Rapid Transit’s (HART) long-awaited light metro service, as the 19th of 20 four-car trains arrive; and Chicago’s Metra breaks ground on its $14.5 million Homewood Station renovation project.

BART Fleet of the Future Cars from Alstom

BART has selected Tel Aviv, Israel-based RADWIN to provide FiberinMotion® and TerraBridge wireless solutions for installation on its 775 Fleet of the Future cars and along its 113 miles of track. The solutions will be deployed by Mobilitie, a BAI Communications company.

RADWIN said it will deliver “reliable, high-capacity wireless broadband train-to-track connectivity through FiberinMotion, and secure Gigabit wireless inter-car connectivity via TerraBridge.” Both solutions will supply BART riders with high-speed Wi-Fi, and enable BART “to provide real-time information and emergency alerts via digital monitors to fine-tune their daily operations, and enhance security with improved access to real-time security camera footage for BART Police,” according to the manufacturer.

“We have been working closely with RADWIN and our partners Alstom and Mobilitie/BAI Communications to develop a modern digital railway capable of delivering the high-bandwidth connections that the modern public demands,” BART Director of Technology Travis Engstrom said.

BART has received 514 of the 775 Fleet of the Future cars on order; 496 have been certified for service; 306 are currently in service.

The transit agency placed its first order with Bombardier in 2012, for 410 cars, and exercised an option for an additional 365 in 2013, to replace legacy cars. The new cars are now being built by Alstom, which acquired Bombardier on Jan. 29, 2021.

Honolulu Mayor Rick Blangiardi (HART Photograph)

Honolulu Mayor Rick Blangiardi on May 10 reported that the 10.8-mile, nine-station first phase of the city and county’s long-awaited rail transit system will officially launch June 30.

“This is truly a momentous and historic day for the island of Oahu,” said Blangiardi. “Today’s announcement marks the culmination of decades of hard work, perseverance and overcoming difficult challenges of every kind. We are all excited for the public to experience first-hand the transformative effect the rail will have for our island home.”

HART’s first project segment stretches between the Kualaka`i Station in East Kapolei and the Hālawa Station near Aloha Stadium (see map below). When service begins, trains will arrive at stations every 10 minutes. All stations, except Honouliuli – Ho`opili Station, and Hālaulani – Leeward Community College Station, will have bus stops and connectivity. HART reported that service to additional stations further east along the line is scheduled to commence in phases over the coming years.

According to the HART website, trial runs on the first project segment started in August 2022 and continue to make “positive progress.” The 5.2 miles of rail guideway construction and trackwork are complete for the second project segment—from Aloha Stadium to the Middle Street-Kalihi Transit Center—and construction work on the four stations is nearly complete. Utilities relocation work for the third project segment is currently under way along Dillingham Boulevard and through the Downtown area.

Last fall, the Federal Transit Administration (FTA) signed off on HART’s 2022 Recovery Plan documenting how the 20-mile, 21-station rail line in O‘ahu between Kapolei and Ala Moana Center will be completed within the amount of funding available.

(HART Photograph)

Also on May 10, HART reported that Train 2, the 19th of 20 four-car trains from Hitachi Rail, has been delivered. (Scroll up to see photograph.)

“Train 2 is the next to the last train to arrive in Hawaii, which means that the vehicle portion of the rail system is nearly complete, with the final train expected to arrive within the next year,” HART Executive Director and CEO Lori Kahikina, P.E. said. “After the initial opening of the rail system on June 30, there will be five trains operating during normal service, with additional trains being available as spares or for special needs. When the next segment of the rail system opens to the public in about two years, more trains will be used in daily operations.”

Twelve trains are fully commissioned and are ready to be handed over to the City’s Department of Transportation Services in June, according to HART.

Each four-car train is air conditioned and can accommodate 800 riders. Open gangways allow for ease of travel between cars. The trains are ADA compliant with priority areas for wheelchairs. Surfboard, bike and luggage storage areas are located within each car and there are also areas available for strollers.

(Metra Rendering)

Metra commuter railroad, Homewood, Ill., and other local officials on May 11 officially broke ground on the $14.5 million renovation of Homewood Station along the Metra Electric Line. Work includes construction of a new, ADA-accessible east headhouse and ramp; renovation of the platform, wind breaks, warming house and gatehouse; installation of new drainage, ventilation, lighting and interior finishes in the existing tunnel; and replacement of the elevator connecting the tunnel to the platform. Also included is the construction of a new Pace bus facility, including three bus bays, a covered waiting area and driver relief facilities.

The Metra project follows a significant investment by Amtrak to rehab its part of the shared facility. That work added an enclosed ramp on the west side of the tracks, allowing all riders to access the tunnel under the tracks to both the Amtrak and the Metra train platform; other ADA improvements to the unique former Illinois Central Railroad station (built in 1923), including the waiting areas and restrooms; and a level path between the building, parking and the stairway/ramp entrance to the tunnel.

The Homewood project is part of the Metra Electric Community Initiative, a multi-year plan to renovate and make accessible 13 stations on the Metra Electric Line through the South Side and south suburbs. The work, expected to take about 24 months, will be performed by IHC Construction of Elgin, Ill.

According to Metra, total construction costs are $20.7 million. This is covered by $9.25 million in federal Surface Transportation Program (STP) funds administered by CMAP through its STP Shared Fund program; $6.5 million in FTA formula funding; $2.3 million in Regional Transportation Authority bonds; $2.1 million from Pace; and $300,000 from Cook County’s Invest in Cook program. A contribution of $116,000 from Homewood was used to help cover design costs.

“This work represents a significant improvement for our Homewood customers and is part of a significant investment by Metra into its stations, particularly its stations on the Metra Electric Line,” Metra CEO/Executive Director Jim Derwinski said. “With the help of our funding partners, we will be making this station more functional and welcoming for My Metra riders.”

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