Transit Briefs: MBTA, Brightline, Denver RTD, NIRDA

Written by Marybeth Luczak, Executive Editor
MBTA’s winning exterior design for its Green Line Type 10 “supercars” from CAF USA Inc. (pictured) was selected by riders and the transit agency’s employees. (Rendering Courtesy of MBTA)

MBTA’s winning exterior design for its Green Line Type 10 “supercars” from CAF USA Inc. (pictured) was selected by riders and the transit agency’s employees. (Rendering Courtesy of MBTA)

Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority (MBTA) unveils the exterior paint design for its new Green Line cars. Also, Brightline offers a new All-Station Shared Pass for travel between Miami and Orlando, Fla.; Denver (Colo.) Regional Transportation District reports that more than 75% of rail and bus riders are “satisfied” or “very satisfied” with service; and Northwest Indiana Regional Development Authority (NIRDA) advances three new transit development districts along South Shore commuter rail lines.


Riders and MBTA employees have selected the exterior paint scheme for MBTA’s Green Line Type 10 “supercars,” which are now being designed. It features green and dark-gray paint along the carbody, green doors, and a white and turquoise-green lower running stripe. A mock-up is expected by next year.

Riders were invited to select one of three designs through an online survey, which was available Oct. 2-13, and MBTA employees were also asked to provide feedback. More than 16,300 responses were collected, with the winning design receiving 9,566 votes, according to the transit agency.

MBTA’s Board in August 2022 awarded a nearly $811 million contract to CAF USA Inc. for the delivery of 102 light rail vehicles, which will be 40 feet longer than the Green Line vehicles in use today and will include “state-of-the-art communication systems, accessibility improvements like wider doors, and the latest generation of crash-safety technology.”

According to MBTA, its Vehicle Engineering team is engaging with the public and stakeholder groups on supercar design. The stakeholder groups include more than 15 MBTA departments from teams that include Safety; System-Wide Accessibility (SWA); and SWA’s external support partners, Operations, Training, Customer Technology, Green Line Transformation, and others.

“Safety and reliability continue to be the main priority of the Green Line Type 10 supercar design process with the experience of riders and the operator as the central focus,” the transit agency reported. “Lessons learned from the MBTA’s previous vehicle projects are also being incorporated as part of the design process. For example, the technical specifications were drafted for the future technology and safety needs of riders and employees. This technology includes redundant major systems; 100% low-floor vehicles for level boarding in the future; Green Line Train Protection Systems, which combine vehicle and wayside equipment to avoid train-on-train collisions, add red-light signal protection, and incorporate speed enforcement; live screen and announcement updates; increased priority seating; and accessibility upgrades like new bridge plate concepts.”

The supercar design phase is slated to continue “for several more years” before pilot vehicles are introduced to the system, MBTA said.

“I thank our riders for taking the time to engage with us on the exterior design,” MBTA General Manager and CEO Phillip Eng said. “It’s important for riders to know that we care about both their safety and also their experiences on the system, and we are incorporating their feedback into our decision-making. Thank you to our Customer Experience and Vehicle Engineering team for their work, and again to our riders for continuing to engage with us.”


(Brightline Photograph)

With service to Orlando now open, Brightline has introduced an All-Station Shared Train Pass with locked-in pricing. According to Florida’s private-sector passenger railroad, the pass provides 12 rides to the purchaser who can use them or share them within a 90-day time frame for travel to every station between Miami and Orlando. Prices start at $1,199 for SMART service, with fare rates less than $100 per ride.

Denver RTD

(Denver RTD Photograph)

RTD in September conducted its third-annual survey of riders, community members and stakeholders to better understand its strengths and identify opportunities for improvement. According to the transit agency, the customer-focused portion of the survey included a sampling of individuals using all bus routes and light rail and commuter rail lines, and it was conducted using customer intercepts. The survey findings indicate that 78% of rail customers and 76% of bus customers are “satisfied” or “very satisfied” with RTD services. Additionally, the percentage of customers who were “very dissatisfied” decreased in comparison with 2022, according to RTD.

RTD also reported seeing double-digit increases in the percentage of customers who felt “adequately informed” about disruptions and the cleanliness of trains and buses. Other improvements from 2022, it noted, included the percentage of customers who indicated that RTD’s communication materials are high quality and that fare prices are reasonable.

The survey provided RTD with a Net Promoter Score (NPS), which is an indication for how likely someone is to recommend RTD services to a friend or neighbor. RTD’s NPS score for rail increased by five points and for bus decreased by three points. RTD said both scores remain above zero, meaning that the agency has more promoters in the community than detractors.

In addition to collecting customer feedback, separate surveys solicited input from households and key stakeholders in RTD’s service area. The community survey was mailed to a random sample of USPS addresses throughout the eight-county district, and results were monitored to maintain a demographic distribution that was in proportion to the region, according to RTD. Highlights from the community survey include 84% of respondents indicating that RTD provides value to the region, and 87% of respondents noting that the agency’s funding should be “somewhat or much greater.” Respondents to the key stakeholders’ survey included chambers of commerce, transportation management organizations/associations, major employers, and institutions of higher education. Nearly 80% of those respondents said the agency is “somewhat or very effective” at providing service to employment centers, and 90% of respondents agreed that RTD provides value to the Denver metro region, the agency reported.

ETC Institute conducted RTD’s survey, and to ensure year-over-year consistency in data collection and reporting, the 2023 survey was based on questions and methodology that were developed in 2021.

“You cannot manage what you do not measure, so it was important for RTD to seek meaningful feedback from its customers, stakeholders and community members,” RTD General Manager and CEO Debra A. Johnson said. “This valuable information provides RTD with insight into customers’ and the community’s pain points.”


(Northern Indiana Commuter Transportation District Photograph)

NIRDA on Oct. 12 approved three new transit development districts along South Shore Line routes, according to a Chicago Tribune report. The districts would provide developers with tax benefits and be in located in Gary (around the Metro train and bus station), Porter (near the South Shore Line’s Dune Park station), and South Hammond (around the South Shore’s 173rd Street station, which is part of the West Lake Corridor project now under construction). According to the newspaper, the State Budget Committee still must sign off on the districts, which could occur later this month. Another seven districts along new and existing South Shore Line routes have already been approved by NIRDA and the Committee.

The Chicago Tribune reported that the Gary Metro Transit Development District covers 315.5 acres and Indiana General Assembly funds have been appropriated to replace the existing Gary Metro station; the South Hammond Transit Development District covers 201 acres; and the Dune Park Transit Development District covers 297.2 acres.

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