Transit Briefs: NY MTA, LAX, Province of British Columbia

Written by Carolina Worrell, Senior Editor
The new LIRR Concourse is scheduled to be substantially completed by March 2023. (MTA)

The new LIRR Concourse is scheduled to be substantially completed by March 2023. (MTA)

The Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) unveils first section of new 18-foot ceilings at Penn Station’s Long Island Rail Road (LIRR) Concourse. Also, the Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) debuts first Automated People Mover (APM) railcar and the Province of British Columbia launches first procurement for Surrey Langley SkyTrain.


The MTA on Aug. 2 unveiled the first section of the grand new ceiling at Penn Station’s LIRR Concourse. The new ceiling, which has been raised 18 feet, is supported by an “innovative” structural framing system, installed by Skanska/AECOM, that allowed for the successful removal of the low-hanging 6-foot, 8-inch beams informally known as “Head Knockers” earlier this year.

Project crews are increasing the ceiling height to 18 feet across the entire LIRR Concourse and doubling its width from 30 feet to 57 feet, MTA says. Crews are also improving lighting, including the installation of a new luminous ceiling; improved air flow; modern finishes; more intuitive wayfinding; and enhanced accessibility at the station. A major section of the completed 33rd Street Corridor will be open to the public this fall, MTA says, with the LIRR Concourse substantially completed by March 2023.

“This first section of new ceilings is just the start of a gradual reveal over the next few months, which will allow for customers to take advantage of the new space prior to substantial completion,” MTA says.

Existing renovations will be incorporated into a total transformation of Penn Station, Gov. Kathy Hochul announced in June. “Crews will replace the existing facility with a single-level, world-class, modern, spacious, light-filled station that is easy to navigate.”

“The unveiling of new, higher ceilings in the LIRR Concourse is both a milestone and a sign of things to come at Penn Station,” said MTA Construction and Development President Jaime Torres-Springer. “As this project nears on-time completion, these new ceilings are just a preview of the substantial enhancements Penn Station riders will experience starting this fall.”

Photos of the new 18-foot ceilings can be found here.

Rendering of LAX’s APM train. (Courtesy of LAWA)


LAX revealed on Aug. 2 its first APM train, part of the 2.25-mile elevated guideway scheduled to be operational in 2023, CBS reported.

The first train traveled from Alstom’s Pittsburgh factory and arrived at LAX in June, with three more following. According to CBS, they are among 44 trains coming to the airport as part of the driverless train system, which is being described as the “centerpiece of LAX’s Landside Access Modernization Program,” featuring six stations and including connections to the Metro light rail system.

Rep. Maxine Waters (D-Los Angeles) joined other local politicians and officials, including Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti, at LAX’s Maintenance and Storage Facility on Aug. 2 to celebrate the APM project moving forward.

According to Los Angeles World Airports (LAWA), during peak hours (9 a.m. to 11 p.m.), the APM will run nine trains, each with four cars, and will be capable of carrying up to 50 passengers and their luggage, with a total of 200 passengers per train. Train speed will top out at 47 mph. Trains will be available at each station every two minutes during peak hours with a total of 10 minutes travel time end-to-end (from the Consolidated Rent-A-Car Facility to the West CTA Station). For easy access, LAWA says, the APM trains will have large, wide doors with level boarding and each car will have 12 seats designated for travelers in need. The APM will be free for all users and operate 24/7. With an anticipated use of approximately 30 million passengers per year, LAWA estimates that the APM will result in 117,000 fewer vehicle miles traveled per day.

The APM trains, elevators, escalators and moving sidewalks provide for quick access to the terminals and stations, LAWA says. Passengers will be able to view real-time flight information, public art in a variety of media, and will see the iconic Theme Building from a brand-new perspective as the train enters the CTA.

“As we welcome the first car that will whisk travelers to renovated terminals, parking structures, Metro rail and a new rental car facility, it’s clear that a completely reimagined LAX is on the horizon,” said Garcetti, as reported by CBS, adding that the APM will “solve the curb congestion that has been plaguing the airport for decades.”

“I am excited and proud to see the first train cars delivered for LAX’s APM,” Waters said, as reported by CBS. “Construction has been moving at a fast pace and when complete will enable airline passengers to reach their terminals from anywhere near a Metro light rail line at a fraction of the current cost and without contributing to local traffic and vehicle emissions.”

In addition to reducing traffic, LAWA says, the APM will leverage “cutting-edge sustainability practices to reduce the airport area’s carbon footprint.” The system’s 44 cars will be fully electric, 98% recyclable and generate a portion of their own power through regenerative braking, while providing an industry-leading ride quality for users, LAWA adds. The command center and maintenance facility, according to LAWA, generates nearly half of its power from solar energy and is designed to be LEED Gold Certified.

Surrey Langley SkyTrain is the first rapid transit expansion south of the Fraser River in 30 years. Map Courtesy of the Province of British Columbia.

Province of British Columbia

The Province of British Columbia has issued a request for qualifications (RFQ) to build the elevated guideway for the Surrey Langley SkyTrain–the first contract for the project, which will provide high-quality and low-cost transportation for tens of thousands of people in Surrey, Langley and the surrounding areas, according to the Province.

As part of the competitive selection process, the RFQ has been released to identify a contractor to design, build and partially finance the guideway, roadworks and utilities, as well as active transportation elements, such as cycling and walking paths along the extension. Responses from interested parties are due Nov. 1, 2022.

Following the RFQ evaluations, up to three teams will be selected to participate in the subsequent phase of the competitive selection process, which is the request for proposal (RFP) stage.

Surrey Langley SkyTrain, a 16-kilometer extension of the Expo Line from King George Station to Langley City Center, will be delivered through three different contracts, according to the Province. This approach, the Province says, will “increase competition, and enable smaller and more local companies to bid on different elements of the project.”

The second contract will consist of construction of eight new SkyTrain stations, including active transportation elements, such as cycling and walking paths around the stations. Procurement for the second contract is expected to begin in the fall.

The third contract will be for the design and installation of SkyTrain trackwork, as well as the design, installation and integration of electrical systems, such as power, telecommunications and automatic train control (ATC). Procurement for the contract is expected to begin as early as December 2022.

Major construction on the $3.95 billion Surrey Langley SkyTrain, the first rapid transit expansion south of the Fraser River in 30 years, is expected to begin in 2024, with operation anticipated for late 2028.

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