Puerto Rico’s citizens now have a modern mode of transportation to call their own. The Tren Urbano began full-time operation April 6, connecting the densely populated area called Bayamon with the Santurce section of San Juan.
This is the first metro system in place on the island and one of the largest infrastructure projects to have been completed in Puerto Rico’s history. Rail service had been in place on the island until 1953, when trains connecting San Juan and Ponce stopped running.
The train first opened in December 2004 and offered weekend-only free rides to allow the public to experience the new system. On June 6, fares of $1.50 each way went into effect. The trains run 20 hours a day at four-minute intervals during peak rush times. Traveling the entire line takes approximately 30 minutes, with stops at a total of 16 stations.
Siemens Transportation Systems Inc. built the system as a turnkey project with several partners, including Alternate Concepts Inc. and Juan R. Requena & Associates. Phase I of the project was projected to cost $1.9 billion. Additional phases are planned in the next 10 to 15 years and will extend the reach of the Tren Urbano to other areas in and around the capital city.
The communication systems include a fully integrated centralized control system that interfaces with passenger information systems, a PA system, fare collection, telecommunications, radio and CCTV. The control center features automatic routing and dispatching, timetable management, automatic traffic regulation, conflict detection and resolution and a trainer-trainee simulation system.
Siemens provided 37 married-pair heavy rail vehicles for the project. “The Tren Urbano system is an international showcase for public transit and a first for the Caribbean,” said Siemens’ CFO and Vice President Mark Evans. “The people of Puerto Rico love this success story.”