South America’s Largest Metro System Set to Grow Some More

Two more new lines plus two others already announced will double the length of the largest metro system in Latin America, the world's first designer tram will ply the streets of Nice soon, and look who's back in Kansas City!

A metro station in Santiago, Chile. (AP Photo/Esteban Felix)

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

Santiago Metro to Expand Further With Two More New Lines

With 117.5 kilometers (73 miles) of routes in operation, the Santiago Metro is the largest rapid transit system in South America, the second largest in Latin America after Mexico City, and the sixth-most-extensive in the Western Hemisphere. With the recent announcement of two more new lines and an extension of a third, all set for completion in 2026, the system will nearly double in size to 215 km (133.6 miles), making it the third-largest in the hemisphere (assuming no major additions are made to the three systems it will pass).

According to an International Railway Journal report, President Sebastian Piñera of Chile announced the additional extensions on June 1. They consist of:

Line 8, a 20-kilometer (12.4-mile) route that will connect the southeastern suburbs of La Florida and Puente Alto with the city’s new commercial hub where the cities of Providencia, Las Condes and Vitacura meet. This line will also relieve overcrowding on Line 4, which runs in roughly the same corridor.

Line 9, which will run for roughly 17 kilometers (10.6 miles) from La Pintana, a low-income southern suburb, to the historic city center and an interchange with Line 1 at Santa Lucia.

In addition, Line 4 will get a three-station, four kilometer (2.5 mile) extension.

These additions will join Line 3, which is set to open next year, and the previously announced Line 7, a 24.8 kilometer (15.4 mile) east-west line announced last year and also slated for completion in 2026. The new extensions meet both of the goals a series of Chilean governments have set for metro expansions in the capital: relief of overcrowding on existing lines and extension of services to underprivileged neighborhoods.

Designer Tram to Ply Streets of Nice

Leave it to the French to turn a streetcar into an object of fashion. Well, maybe “style” is a better word to use here than “fashion,” because it’s highly unlikely that Alstom will bring its newest Citadis X05 trams back to the shop to re-accessorize them once they’re in service.

Still, as the design and fashion publication Wallpaper reports, these new candy-apple-red X05s will be the first trams anywhere to bear the name of a designer alongside that of a manufacturer.

The honor goes to French designer Ora ïto (né Ito Morabito), who grew up in Nice. The designer’s logo will appear next to Alstom’s on the trams that will operate on Nice’s new Line 2.

Alstom approached ïto about designing a “streetcar of the future” not long before it decided to bid on the contract for the Line 2 fleet in 2014. One of the aspects of the cars that most appealed to the designer was their wireless operation – the trams run on batteries that recharge in 20 seconds when they stop at stations, where a power supply will be embedded between the rails. (Nice’s mayor, Christian Estrosi, also shared ïto’s distaste for overhead wires, making this new wireless design a natural for the new line.)

“To have an entire line in the city where you grew up is very special,” ïto told Wallpaper. That honor will be repeated when Line 3, which will also use his trams, opens in 2019. The cars on that line will be yellow. In between these two, Sydney will also get ïto-designed Alstom trams next year.

Clay Chastain Comes Back from the Undead with Yet Another LRT Plan for KC

We thought that the last time Clay Chastain suffered defeat at the hands of the Kansas City electorate was the last time for the Don Quixote of rail transit in the Heart of America. So did City Hall.

Guess who’s back.

KMBC 9 reports that Chastain has returned with one more proposal — the last one, he says — for a comprehensive light rail transit system for his former hometown, spurred by the popularity of the downtown streetcar.

All he asks for, according to the report, is a fair shot — something he claims he hasn’t gotten in the past. As the report drily puts it, “There are plenty of people at City Hall who would say otherwise.”

Chastain told the station that this would really be the last time he makes a push for a light rail route that would run all the way from Kansas City International Airport in the northwest to the Kansas City Zoo in Swope Park to the southeast: “If we win, the city builds it. If we lose, Clay Chastain goes home and considers his cause over.”

If past performance is any guide to future prospects, Chastain will lose. City voters rejected his last plan, and at the same election they set in motion a plan to expand the taxing district for the streetcar in order to extend it to the Country Club Plaza and the University of Missouri-Kansas City campus. Since that election, they also passed a measure that would forbid the city from spending any of its own money on any rail transit project without first obtaining the approval of voters citywide in a referendum.

In the two days before the report appeared, Chastain had collected 400 of the 1,700 signatures he will need to put his new plan on the ballot.

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

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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.

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Tags: transit agencieskansas citysantiago

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