BRT on the Way in the Twin Cities – Next City
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BRT on the Way in the Twin Cities

Minneapolis-St. Paul’s BRT A Line is slated to launch in 2016. (Credit: Metro Transit)

Our weekly “New Starts” roundup of new and newsworthy transportation projects worldwide.

BRT Comes to the Twin Cities
While transportation planners and governments in the Minneapolis-St. Paul area continue to wrestle over the details of a planned light-rail line serving the southwestern suburbs, the first bus rapid transit line to serve the region is slated to open next year.

A St. Paul Pioneer Press story states that the 9.7-mile-long “A Line” will connect Rosedale Center in Roseville, east of Minneapolis and north of St. Paul, to 46th Street station on the Hiawatha light-rail line in south Minneapolis

The new line follows the route of a local bus line that carries about 4,000 riders each weekday. Metro Transit officials expect ridership on both that line and the new BRT route to double by 2030, while the population in the corridor is projected to rise by 15 percent in that same time period. The trip from Roseville to Minneapolis via the A Line will take 35 minutes, 13 minutes faster than the existing service, but the fare will be the same as for the local buses.

The line has an estimated price tag of $27 million, or $2.8 million per mile. Using existing streets helped keep costs down; by comparison, the 11-mile-long Green Line LRT connecting downtown Minneapolis and downtown St. Paul cost $957 million to build. The bulk of the funding, $16 million, comes from the State of Minnesota; the federal government chipped in $7 million, and the local share of $4 million comes from regional transit capital bonds issued by the Metropolitan Council of the Twin Cities. The A Line is the first of a dozen BRT lines the Met Council has proposed in recent years to actually enter service.

Glasgow Subway Gets Major Cleanup
The world’s third-oldest subway, the circular line under Glasgow in Scotland, is now 19 years into its second century of service. In order to keep it running well into that second century, its owner-operator, the Strathclyde Partnership for Transport (SPT), will be giving 8 km (5 miles) of the subway tunnel a major cleaning and repair job.

Glasgow subway (Photo by Finlay McWalter)

Glasgow’s Evening Times reports that the work will consist of cleaning the tunnel lining, track bed and drainage channel, repairs to the concrete and brick lining, and injecting resin into the lining to prevent leaks. The £17 million ($25.7 million U.S.) project will employ anywhere from 80 to 130 workers and take two years to complete. The work will be performed in the overnight hours when the subway is closed to minimize disruption to passengers. The main section being repaired runs between Hillhead and Buchanan Street stations; work is also being performed in the tunnels connecting Shields Road and Kinning Park stations.

In addition, another 6.67 km (4.14 miles) of tunnel will be cleaned and inspected to determine what sorts of repairs are most urgently needed.

The project is part of a larger, £300 million ($455.6 million U.S.) modernization of the system, the first complete makeover since the late 1970s. The subway, opened in 1896, is noteworthy for its single circular line. Originally a cable-hauled line, it has not been expanded since it opened, though proposals for extensions have been floated in recent years.

Edinburgh tram (Photo by Brian Turner)

Edinburgh OKs Tram Line Extension
Meanwhile, in Scotland’s capital and second-largest city, the Edinburgh city council has OK’d in principle a proposal to extend the city’s starter tram line three miles north from its current terminus at York Place in the city center to Newhaven, just west of the city’s port facilities in Leith.

The BBC reports that the city councilors are recommending that the £144.7 million ($218.8 million U.S.) cost of the extension be financed from profits from the city’s bus operation.

When the current tram line was first proposed as part of a three-phase, two-line project in 2006, the line was to have run from Edinburgh Airport to Newhaven via Leith, but cost overruns and funding shortfalls led the initial line to be cut back to York Place on the in-city end. That first line cost twice what had been budgeted for it and opened several years behind schedule.

The BBC quoted the head of the city council, Andrew Burns, as saying, “I am pleased we have been able to find a way forward for the project, which would deliver a range of key benefits in terms of economic growth, greater accessibility and the environment for Leith and the city as a whole.”

In order to determine exactly what that way forward will be, however, a nine-month study will be conducted first. The council will then decide how to proceed upon reviewing the study report.

Know of a project that should be included in this column? Send a Tweet with links to @MarketStEl using the hashtag #newstarts.

The Works is made possible with the support of the Surdna Foundation.

Next City contributor Sandy Smith is the home and real estate editor at Philadelphia magazine. Over the years, his work has appeared in Hidden City Philadelphia, the Philadelphia Inquirer and other local and regional publications. His interest in cities stretches back to his youth in Kansas City, and his career in journalism and media relations extends back that far as well.

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Tags: subwaysbus rapid transit