Our weekly “New Starts” roundup of new and newsworthy transportation projects worldwide.
Work to Resume on Istanbul Metro Extension After Two-Year Delay
A loan the Istanbul Metropolitan Municipality received from Deutsche Bank will allow work to resume on a new metro line in the Anatolian (Asian) portion of the city, Duvar English reports.
The line, one of 14 new metro lines and extensions Istanbul plans to open by 2023, will operate as an extension of existing line M5. It will run from the current M5 terminus at Çekmeköy to Sultanbeyli via Sancaktepe, a distance of 10.9 km (6.8 miles). Work on the eight-station extension began two years ago but was halted almost immediately due to lack of funds.
Istanbul Mayor Ekrem İmamoğlu officially marked the resumption of construction at a ceremony on Nov. 26. The Ray Haber transport news site has an article excerpting the remarks he made at the ceremony; in his speech, he called transport improvments just one of many issues Istanbul must deal with to advance its growth in the 21st century. İmamoğlu spent two days in London the week before meeting with global finance leaders with an eye on securing funding for more of the planned metro projects.
When it opens in 2022, the M5 extension is projected to carry 65,000 passengers per hour in each direction.
Construction to Begin on First Metro Line in Konya
Also in Turkey, Konya Mayor Ugor Ibrahim Altay announced Nov. 15 that he has given the go-ahead for construction of that city’s first metro line.
The International Railway Journal reports that the all-underground north-south route will run 21.1 km (13.1) miles from Necmettin Erbakan University to Meram Belediyesi, serving a new high-speed rail station, the existing mainline railroad station and Fatah Street along the way. The line will have 22 stations, and an end-to-end run should take 35 minutes with trains operating at headways from 2 minutes 43 seconds to 4 minutes.
A consortium of China National Machinery Company and the Turkish firm Taşyapı will build the line at a projected cost of €1.19 billion (US$1.31 billion). Plans call for a second east-west line that would bring the total length of the system to 45 km (28 miles).
Gold Line Opens in Doha
Metro Report International reports that the Doha Metro Gold Line opened for passenger service on Nov. 21, six months after service began on the Qatari capital’s first metro line, the Red Line.
The 14-km (8.7-mile) underground line runs from Ras Bu Abboud in the east to Aziziyah in the west, stopping at 11 stations along the way. Interchange with the Red Line is at Msheireb station, which will also be the transfer point for the third line of Doha Metro Phase 1, the Green Line. Qatar Rail operates the service, with trains running at five-minute headways from 6 a.m. to 11 p.m. six days a week and 2 to 11 p.m. on Fridays.
NJ Transit Seeks to Use Its Land as a Funding Source
New Jersey Transit Corporation (NJT) needs more money in order to bring its statewide rail transit system back up to snuff. And instead of hitting its riders up for the money, the agency is turning to the land it owns as the source.
NJ Spotlight reports that the push to squeeze revenue out of land around NJT rail stations comes after an audit found that the agency raises more of its operating costs from riders than its peer agencies do. Gov. Phil Murphy has also signed legislation calling on the agency to establish a real estate development division.
An audit of the agency found that in 2016, riders covered 45 percent of NJT’s operating costs. By comparison, they covered 42 percent of costs at the New York Metropolitan Transportation Authority, 40 percent of the Chicago Transit Authority’s costs, and 37 percent at the Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority.
In recent months, NJT has announced public-private partnerships to build revenue-producing projects around stations in Bayonne and Matawan, and it has issued a call for partners to develop properties around the 37-mile River Line light rail line connecting Trenton and Camden.
The push to develop or sell off parts of NJT’s extensive land holdings is just one of several measures being advanced to secure more funding for the agency, including a dedicated revenue stream. Once regarded as one of the best transit operators in the country, NJT — the nation’s third-largest mass transit agency — has come under increasing fire for increasing delays and deteriorating physical conditions on its statewide rail network.
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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.