Sun Metro Grows and Rolls Forward
Creating an eye-catching, effective and practical transit system for all El Pasoans is quickly becoming a reality as Sun Metro moves toward enhancing existing facilities, improving services and completing capital projects.
The most recent development is the terminal enclosure and installation of heating and refrigerated air conditioning units for the waiting areas at the Eastside, Northeast and Five Points transit terminals. Worth $225,000, the upgrades are entirely funded with grants from the Federal Transit Administration.
Prior to the upgrades, the three terminals had evaporative coolers and did not have heating.
The new equipment and enclosure will provide riders a comfortable space that will keep them warm during wintery days and cool during El Paso’s summer months.
The Mass Transit Department will seek additional grants to renovate both the Eastside and Five Points transit terminals. These enhancements include total face-lifts and the addition of amenities currently seen at the Bert Williams Downtown Santa Fe Transfer Center, such as an ATM, vending machines, free Wi-Fi and real-time information displays.
These transformations, along with the completion of the state-of-the-art transfer centers — the Downtown, Westside, Mission Valley and Glory Road centers — and new buses, will help move the growing number of bus riders.
Recent news reports indicate that Sun Metro expects a decrease in ridership; however, it is quite the opposite. Sun Metro is anticipating an increase of 13.7 million passengers this fiscal year for fixed-route service — a 6.5 percent increase over last year’s total number of fixed-route riders — and 210,000 passengers for LIFT, Sun Metro’s paratransit service.
Existing and new riders will be able to enjoy each of these new visually appealing centers and benefit from improved services that will get commuters to their destinations more quickly.
Currently, Sun Metro passengers must travel Downtown and transfer buses in order to get from one side of the city to another. With the opening of the new transfer centers throughout the city, riders will be able to travel from terminal to terminal while reducing their travel time and number of transfers.
Sun Metro also is working on the installation of between 150 and 200 new bus shelters that will provide both a bench to rest on and protection from the elements. All new shelters will be solar powered to help illuminate the stops and will display scheduling and route information. I-stops, or illuminated bus stop poles, will also be installed in certain locations.
All of these improvements will be further enhanced by the future Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) system, which is currently undergoing a feasibility study.
The BRT system will travel along four high-speed transit corridors, located along Mesa Street, Montana Avenue, Dyer Street and Alameda Avenue, with the hope that the first corridor will become operational in 2012.
Sun Metro has and will continue to make significant improvements in on-time arrivals and customer service. The projected 6.5 percent increase in fixed-route-ridership figures for fiscal year 2010 can be attributed to operational and transfer-center improvements.
The mass transit system not only helps move the city’s commuters, it is also improving the city’s quality of life by creating jobs, saving commuters money, and making El Paso “greener” by reducing traffic congestion and air pollution.