Openings and Construction Starts Planned for 2018

» Despite significant hostility from the Trump Administration, cities are pushing ahead with major new transit projects nationwide. Here’s the annual roundup, with dozens of projects on the way with planned openings in 2018.

In 2018, 340 route miles of new fixed-guideway transit projects, representing a total investment of $13.2 billion, are expected to open for riders in the U.S., Mexico, and Canada. An additional 366 miles of lines, costing a total of more than $75 billion to build, will be under construction in 2018 but are planned for opening in later years. The continent’s cities, then, continue to be active sites of expansion for relatively high-quality transit improvements.

Projects are described in more detail below. They’re also accessible on the updated Transit Explorer map and database, on which it’s possible to view project routes, stations, and details throughout North America.

This is the 10th year of my compilation of new transit projects here on The Transport Politic. Find previous years here: 2009 | 2010 | 2011 | 2012 | 2013 | 2014 | 2015 | 2016 | 2017.

A 2017 round-up

The first year of the transit-hostile Trump Administration was never going to be fun, but the fact that transit ridership declined throughout the U.S.—particularly on bus services—didn’t help. Competition from ride-hailing services, reductions in service provided, and low gas prices all conspired to encourage Americans to get into automobiles. That said, transit systems in Canada and Mexico did fine.

The Trump Administration’s budget officially cut off federal funding for new transit projects, but—as I’ll document in an upcoming post—cities kept on, and keep on, building.

Last year, a number of new projects opened. The extension of the Bay Area’s BART heavy rail system to Warm Springs, the creation of Denver’s new R light rail line, the building of Detroit’s new QLine streetcar, and the addition of Toronto’s Spadina Subway Extension stand out as particularly remarkable. High-quality bus rapid transit routes in Albuquerque, Eugene, Mississauga, and New York City also opened for riders.

2018, however, is expected to be a much more significant year in terms of transit line openings, as I detail below.

Above: Expected to open this year, among many other projects: BART to Berryessa heavy rail extension; Boston’s Silver Line Gateway BRT; Miami Central station; Ottawa’s Confederation Line light rail project; and St. Louis’ Loop Trolley streetcar.

Projects we can expect to open in 2018

One heavy rail extension, five new light rail lines, four streetcar lines, six commuter rail lines, 11 bus rapid transit lines, and two major station projects are expected to open next year.

Of these projects, the extension of the Bay Area BART heavy rail system to San Jose is the most expensive (it has rung up a more-than $2 billion price tag), but the line won’t serve any downtown, let alone any particularly dense residential areas. On the other hand, Ottawa’s Confederation Line, a light rail project that will replace a decades-old dedicated bus corridor, will provide direct access to the center of Canada’s capital; its planners project it will attract 240,000 daily riders.

The four streetcar projects expected to open—in El Paso, Milwaukee, Oklahoma City, and St. Louis—will share many of the deficiencies that have frustrated recent streetcars across the U.S. Namely, they’ll run in lanes shared with automobiles, meaning they get stuck in traffic. Fortunately, as a share of overall expenditures on major new transit projects, streetcar projects represent less than two percent of the total.

On the other hand, bus rapid transit projects continue to improve. Boston’s Silver Line Gateway, which will bring frequent service to Chelsea, a suburban city north of Boston’s downtown, will have dedicated lanes and high-quality stations.

Find a full listing of these projects below; to access their route maps on Transit Explorer, click the icon.

Heavy Rail

Light Rail

Streetcar

Commuter Rail

Bus Rapid Transit

Major rail stations

Above: Under construction this year, among many other projects: Boston’s Green Line light rail extension, Los Angeles’ Purple Line subway extensions, Montréal’s REM automated heavy rail project, Seattle’s East Link light rail line, and Toronto’s Eglinton Crosstown light rail subway.

Projects under construction in 2018… but opening later

A large share of the transit projects across the U.S., Mexico, and Canada won’t open this year, but they’re either already under construction or are scheduled to enter the construction process later this year.

Los Angeles and Seattle, whose voters passed very large funding packages for transit expansion in 2016, account for some of the most significant projects. In L.A., the Purple Line Subway is being extended west toward UCLA, through some of the densest neighborhoods on the west coast of the United States. Authorities there are also building a new light rail line on the Crenshaw corridor, which will connect to a new people mover for LAX Airport, and a new light rail subway through downtown called Regional Connector, which will allow trains to run directly from East L.A. to Santa Monica and from Long Beach to Pasadena, saving commuters time.

In Seattle, light rail extensions are underway in virtually every direction: East Link is connecting downtown to Bellevue, Northgate Link and Lynnwood Link will extend the system north, and Tacoma Link is lengthening the short line that currently runs through that city at the southern edge of the region.

Several other projects are noteworthy: Honolulu and Montréal are both investing in automated heavy rail projects. After years of delay, Boston is finally taking the first steps forward in its Green Line extension into Somerville and Medford. And a streetcar line with dedicated lanes—Seattle’s Center City Connector—will finally be added to the streets of a major American city.

The full list of projects under construction is below, and they’re all accessible on Transit Explorer using the icon.

Heavy Rail

Light Rail

Streetcar

Commuter Rail

Bus Rapid Transit

Updates: Jan 5, 13:20 EST: Added Tren Interurbano de Pasajeros Toluca-Valle de México. Jan 6, 15:40 EST: Added Raleigh Multi-Modal Transit Center. Jan 9, 10:30 EST: Added OC Streetcar. Jan 10, 9:30 EST: Added Redlands Passenger Rail Project. Jan 16, 10 EST: Added Minneapolis C Line and Orange Line BRT Projects.

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