Posts Tagged ‘light rail service’

SARTA Studying Light Rail Line

February 5, 2022

The Stark Area Regional Transit Authority has hired a consultant to study the prospects of building a light rail line in Canton.

The proposed line would link downtown Canton with the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

The transit cars would use track owned by Akron Metro Regional Transit Authority that was once used by the Cuyahoga Valley Scenic Railroad when it operated trains between Canton and Akron.

SARTA officials said some new track would need to be constructed into downtown Canton proper.

The study will be conducted by consulting firm WSP USA and cost $100,000. It is expected to take six months to complete.

The 3-mile operation might use transit cars powered by hydrogen fuel cells.

Officials estimate it would cost between $25 million and $50 million to build and hope to cover 80 percent of that with federal grants.

Once construction begins, it would take an estimated two years to complete the line.

Light Rail Service Eyed in Canton

July 6, 2021

Canton officials want to study the possibility of a light rail service that would whisk visitors between the Pro Football Hall of Fame and downtown and someday to the Akron-Canton Airport.

The city engineering office and the Stark Area Regional Transit Authority will seek a $25,000 grant to explore the idea.

The grant application has been submitted to the Stark County Area Transportation Study.

However, Canton Enginer Dan Moeglin said SCATS has told him the rail project is not high on that agency’s priority list.

Officials say the development of the Hall of Fame Village with new hotels and attractions would draw a significant number of people from out of the area.

The proposed rail service would cost between $25 million to $50 million with officials hoping the Federal Transit Administration would cover at least 80 percent of the costs.

SARTA CEO Kirt Conrad said the project would take at least two years from approval to construction. The project could be halted if the Hall of Fame Village ends failing to develop.

“If it’s not cost effective and we’re not going to get the return on investment, then we’re not going to do it,” Moeglin said.

 “We think having that dedicated line to and from the Village and downtown creates a calling card and attractiveness that a simple bus doesn’t provide,” he said.

Canton officials envision using track owned by Akron Metro Regional Transit Authority that was once used by the Cuyahoga Valley Scenic Railroad between Akron and Canton.

A portion of this line is used by the Wheeling & Lake Erie for freight service.

If the rail service develops, a station would be established near the Pro Football Hall of Fame on the southwest corner of Fulton Road NW and Harrison Avenue. 

Trains would go to Tuscarawas Street west of Brown Avenue. Intermediate stops could include 12th Street NW near the McKinley Memorial and Wm. McKinley Presidential Library & Museum, the Ralph Regula Federal Building, City Hall and Stark State Downtown campus at 400 Third St. SE.

Some new track construction would be needed for the project on Third Street SW as it goes southeast from Tuscarawas and then east with a stop at Market Avenue.

Eventually, the service would be extended northward to the Akron-Canton Airport with stops in the Belden Village area with shuttle service to SARTA’s Belden Village Station on Whipple Avenue NW.

Conrad said autonomous vehicles could shuttle passengers from a station on Fulton Road NW by the track to and from the Hall of Fame.

He said he’s had only preliminary discussions with Akron Metro officials about using the rail line. Yet to be worked out is whether the city and SARTA would lease or purchase the railroad tracks.

Valerie Shea, director of planning of Akron Metro, said her agency has not “had any discussions regarding this specific proposal or its operational details at this time. However, we continue to discuss and remain open to any ideas that bring economic growth to our region.”

Conrad said a feasibility study, if funded, would take at least six months to complete.

SARTA operated a bus designed to look like a trolley for less than six months in 2006 on a loop in downtown Canton. Ridership was poor with the trolley bus carrying fewer than 10 passengers on some days.

Firm Chosen for Buffalo Light Rail Extension

February 27, 2018

The Niagara Frontier Transportation Authority has chosen WSP to provide environmental review and preliminary design work for the first phase of the Amherst Metro Rail extension project in the Buffalo, New York, region .

WSP will refine a 2017 study of preferred alternatives for extending the Metro Rail light-rail system along Niagara Falls Boulevard from the University Station in Buffalo to the University of Buffalo’s North Campus in Amherst, New York.

The WSP work will also include exploring options for additional storage and maintenance facilities.

PAT Delays New Ticket System

July 6, 2017

Implementation of a new fare collection system on the light rail network in Pittsburgh has been delayed.

The Port Authority of Allegheny County had planned to implement a cashless, proof-of-payment system but has put that off because, among reasons, it has not yet received all of its ConnectCard machines that dispense the new fare cards and tickets at stations.

Once the system is operational, PAT trains will no longer accept cash payments. Passengers will instead use pre-purchased ConnectCards that are validated on the platform before boarding.

The transit agency said the new system will speed up boarding by enabling doors to be opened at more locations.

Originally expected to be in place by June, the additional card machines will not arrive until October.

Another factor has been software performance problems on existing ConnectCard machines and issues with the validators that are part of the new system.

“The goal of the policy is to make the customer experience better, but in order to make that happen, all of the equipment must be available, functional and reliable,” said David Donahoe, the Port Authority’s interim chief executive officer, in a statement.

“Because these items will take time to resolve, I’m not prepared to announce a new start date until I see the results of the work now underway, including field testing.”

2015 North American Rail Passenger Outlook Brighter than it Might Seem, Railway Age Reports

January 21, 2015

Much of North America's rail passenger growth is occurring in urban rail systems. Two Greater Cleveland RTA Blue Line trains pass in June 2013.

Much of North America’s rail passenger growth is occurring in urban rail systems. Two Greater Cleveland RTA Blue Line trains pass in July 2013 at the Lynnfield station.

If you focus on Amtrak, it might seem that passenger rail in North America is in jeopardy.

Amtrak faces a multitude of woes including falling ridership on some routes due to delays caused by freight train congestion and a new Congress that may be more hostile to funding the nation’s rail passenger network.

But if you take into account city rail systems, the rail passenger outlook in North America is much brighter than it might appear.

In an analysis published by Railway Age, the magazine reported that not only are North American rail systems growing, but so is the scope of those rail networks along with the size of their fleets.

That has resulted in strong competition among suppliers to meet the needs of those systems. In fact, the magazine reported, the number of global equipment suppliers seeking to cash in on the growth of North American rail systems is expanding, too.

That includes suppliers from China that have been courting the North American markets.

“The numbers counter pessimistic claims that North America’s rail renaissance had run its course in 2014,” the magazine observed. “Indeed, 2014 saw several huge orders for new equipment that added to a backlog of healthy equipment orders from previous years, judging by the numbers of Railway Age’s 2015 Passenger Railcar Outlook.”

The order books of rail car manufactures are filling up with orders from coast to coast, including orders from BART in the San Francisco Bay area and the Boston-based MBTA system.

New urban rail systems are being established in cities where no rail transit systems now exist. In some instances, city governments have gone forward with plans to establish rail systems without a corresponding or outside “agency” or even “authority” to do so.

That triggered grumbling by some old line transit systems about the manner in which the Federal Transit Administration has been encouraging these city government efforts.

How widespread are these efforts by cities to start laying rail and running streetcars and light rail transit systems?

A short list of cities eyeing streetcar purchases and/or new systems includes Anaheim and Santa Ana, Calif., Miami and Miami Beach, as well as St. Augustine, Fla., Grand Rapids, Mich., Minneapolis and St. Paul, Minn., Winston-Salem, N.C., Providence, R.I., and El Paso, Texas. On the brink of coming to fruition are systems in Oklahoma City, Fort Lauderdale, Fla., and Milwaukee.

Rails are being laid in Charlotte, N.C., and in Detroit. In Ohio, the Cincinnati streetcar system is under construction, having survived efforts by the newly-elected mayor to kill the project.

Some proposed city rail systems are likely to fall victim to NIMBY opposition and/or forces trying to kill rail transit for ideological reasons.

Rail systems are expensive and opponents have seized on that with a vengeance in seeking to scuttle proposed streetcar and light rail systems.

Anti-rail forces succeeded in killing a streetcar project in San Antonio and Tampa Bay voters rejected an effort to create a light rail transit system. The St. Louis Loop trolley project may be the next to fall by the wayside.

Much media attention was also paid to the challenges facing three rail projects in the Washington, D.C., area.

This included a pair of proposed streetcar proposals that died in Arlington, Va., the threatened status of the Purple Line light rail transit project spanning two Maryland counties northeast of Washington, and the District’s slow-to-open streetcar line on H Street.

Railway Age said that media accounts cited these examples and concluded that that U.S. urban rail transit growth had peaked.

“But such setbacks failed to encompass the full breadth of U.S. rail passenger progress,” the magazine said, noting that even as San Antonio’s streetcar plan faltered the project in El Paso continues to move ahead.

Urban rail projects as well as intercity and high-speed rail projects continue to face the challenge of obtaining federal funding.

The FY 2015 budget approved by Congress reduced TIGER spending from $600 million to $500 million. That means stiffer competition for those dollars.

The budget bill also funded Amtrak at levels comparable to what it received in FY 2014. Railway Age termed that a modest victory given how much flack Amtrak has taken over its long-distance trains.

Amtrak will be seeking to order new high-speed trains this year to upgrade its Northeast Corridor service.

Funding for passenger rail equipment also continues to come from state governments and regional compacts.

Last year California and some Midwest states added to their order with car builder Nippon Sharyo by adding 45 bi-level intercity cars to an existing 130-car order.

California will add 11 cars to its initial 42-car order while the Midwest states will boost their 88-car order by 34 cars.

With so much interest in passenger rail equipment, Railway Age observed that the days have ended when “build it new” was the only option for suppliers to North American passenger rail entities.

Suppliers are finding a brisk market for retrofitting existing rail cars while also building new equipment for transit agencies that will work alongside the existing fleets.

Such is the approach being taken by Kawasaki Heavy Rail Industries. It will build up to 440 R-188 cars at a factory in Yonkers, N.Y., for use in New York City. But Kawasaki will also be retrofitting numerous R-142 cars that have been in operation for several years.

Kinkisharyo will deliver 35 “mid-section” light rail transit cars to New Jersey Transit for use with existing rolling stock on the Newark Light Rail and Hudson-Bergen Light Rail lines. This will enable N.J. Transit to increase capacity on those routes.

Earlier, Kinkisharyo used a similar approach for Dallas Area Rapid Transit’s enhancement of its existing light rail transit fleet.

There remain, of course, plenty of new car orders to be had. Bombardier continues to work on building 300 new R-179 subway cars for MTA New York City Transit. It also won a BART add-on order of 365 rapid transit cars.

China’s CNS Changchun landed a Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority contract to supply 284 rapid transit cars for Boston’s “T” system.

A bid is expected this year by at least one Chinese firm, likely in a joint venture, to manufacture high speed rail trains for California.