Wednesday morning transit and commuter rail news:
Canadian firm announces ‘ultra-light rail’ system that’s part bus, part light rail
A Canadian transit firm has announced development of a system it calls “Ultra-Light Rail Transit,” which uses electric buses on rails and, the company says, can offer the performance of light rail transit at the price of bus rapid transit. The vehicles for the system follow a shallow track, but can be driven off that track to pass, or for maintenance or storage. “It’s much more than an LRT for much less time and money,” Steve Ostrowski, CEO of Municipal Transit Solutions Inc, says in a press release. “Imagine the social, economic, and environmental impacts of public transit that can be constructed quickly, while paying for itself.” The company says the system can be built for about $10 million per kilometer (about $16 million per mile), is available now, and can be operational within three years. Municipal Transit Solutions, based in Newmarket, Ontario, describes itself as a consortium of firms specializing in technology integration, with a goal of accelerating the construction of public transit for faster social, environmental, and economic benefit. More information is available at the company website.
Honolulu rail system underestimated cost of final section by at least $1.3 billion, according to news report
The price to complete the final 4-mile, eight-station section of Honolulu’s light rail transit system, plus a mid-route transit hub, could be at least $1.3 billion more than the city had budgeted. Honolulu Civil Beat reports that figure came from details released on a failed effort to form a public-private partnership to build the final section of the overdue, over-budget system. The Honolulu Authority for Rapid Transportation had estimated the cost of the work at $1.4 billion, but the two bids for the P3 agreements came in at more than $2.7 billion. With the accompanying 30-year operation and maintenance agreement, the contract with City Center Connection Group would have been more than $5.3 billion and with Imua Transit Honolulu would have been $4.2 billion.
Metra to offer free rides on New Year’s Eve
Metra will offer free rides on New Year’s Eve, the Chicago commuter railroad has announced. Rides will be free on all trains arriving or departing after 6 p.m. from Metra’s downtown stations. “While we know that traditional large-scale New Year’s Eve celebrations won’t be happening this year, we feel that it’s still important that people have a safe way to travel on this holiday night,” Metra CEO/Executive Director Jim Derwinski said in a press release. “Besides, 2020 has been a difficult year for so many that the small gift of a free ride is the least we can do as we head into 2021.” It is the second consecutive year Metra has offered the free New Year’s Eve travel.