Sun Metro celebrated the grand opening of its 8.6-mile Rapid Transit System (RTS) along the Mesa Corridor in El Paso, Texas, this week. The new BRT system, which provides a high-capacity transit service to El Paso for the first time, begins at the Downtown Transfer Center, travels along Santa Fe, Franklin, Oregon, Glory Road and Mesa, ending at the Westside Transfer Center. Planning, engineering and program management firm Lockwood, Andrews & Newnam Inc. (LAN) led the design of the project.
“We have dedicated nearly 6 years to analyzing, designing and building what we believe will revolutionize public transportation in our community,” said Sun Metro Director Jay Banasiak.
Known as the Sun Metro Brio, the new BRT system uses modern, rubber-tire, high-capacity vehicles, improved fare collection systems and controlled traffic signals to move riders more efficiently. Uniquely branded 60-foot articulated buses with low-floor boarding will transport more than 70 passengers between the terminal stations every 10 minutes during peak period and 15 minutes during off‐peak period for 14 hours a day, Monday through Friday.
Passenger amenities include an integrated intelligent transportation system (allows buses to pass quickly through traffic lights), an audio/visual system to provide destination and next stop information inside and outside vehicles, bicycle racks, Wi-Fi connections and wheelchair accommodations. The corridor also includes 22 BRT transit stations about a mile apart. The station areas include two bus shelters at each stop, street lighting, landscaping, bike racks, ADA‐accessible ramps and station platforms, and reconstructed sidewalk at all approaches.
“Sun Metro Brio’s grand opening provides a new, efficient, and enhanced public transit service option for the citizens of El Paso,” said Philip L. Meaders, P.E., LAN’s vice president. “The new service will cut commuting times for many residents, workers, students and seniors who are traveling to different destinations while reducing congestion in the community.”
The Mesa Corridor is the first of four RTS corridors approved by the City of El Paso. The second corridor will be in Alameda. Construction on Alameda is tentatively scheduled to begin in spring 2015 with completion in 2016. Dyer and Montana, the third and fourth RTS corridors, are tentatively scheduled to be operational in 2017 and 2019, respectively.