BRT Benefits in El Paso

BY MARGARET SCHROEDER, P.E., M.ASCE AND CHRIS MASTERS, P.E.

Almost a decade ago, forward-thinking leaders at the city of El Paso, Texas, set an ambitious goal: To revolutionize public transportation in El Paso by making it the least car-dependent city in the southwest. In 2006, the city hired First Transit Inc. to manage Sun Metro, the city’s mass transit department, and transform it into a first-class public transportation system. Next, Sun Metro began planning a new rapid transit system. In October 2014, Sun Metro took a major step to turn this vision into a reality when it introduced El Paso’s first bus rapid transit (BRT) service — Brio — along the Mesa Corridor.

The 8.6-mile Mesa Corridor, which runs from the Santa Fe Transfer Center to the Westside Transfer Center at Resler, is the first of four rapid transit corridors planned in El Paso. The second corridor, Alameda, is scheduled to begin construction in fall 2016. Beginning at the Downtown Transfer Center, the 14.5-mile corridor will travel primarily along Alameda and include service to the Five Points Transit Terminal and Mission Valley Transfer Center. Dyer and Montana, the third and fourth corridors, are tentatively scheduled to be operational in 2017 and 2019, respectively. The four corridors, totaling $145 million, are funded using a combination of Federal Transit Administration (FTA), Federal Highway Administration (FHA), and Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT) and city of El Paso dollars.

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