Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
The Tren Urbano — the Urban Train in English — is a 10.7 mile (17.2 km) metro system in Puerto Rico which links the municipalities of San Juan, Bayamón, and Guaynabo. At present the Tren Urbano is composed of 16 stations, ten of which are elevated, four at grade or in open cuttings, and two underground. A maintenance depot and operations control centre is being provided halfway along the route, at Martinez Nadal station. Each of the 16 stations boasts unique artwork and arquitectural style.
The Tren Urbano complements other forms of public transportation on the island such as the public bus system, taxis, water ferries and shuttles. The entire mass transportation system has been dubbed the Alternativa de Transportación Integrada ("Integrated Transportation Alternative") or "ATI".
In the late 19th century while the island was under Spanish rule, regional rail systems started to be built in Puerto Rico. The railroad continued to be in use for the most part of the first half of the 20th century and played a key role in the transportation of people and goods throught the island. The railroad systems of the period also played a vital role in the sugarcane industry. During the 1950s an industrial boom, due in part to development programs such as Operation Bootstrap, led to the downfall of agriculture as the principal industry on the island. During this decade automobiles became more widely available. Newer, and more efficient roads and highways along with the closure of sugarcane mills displaced the need for rail transportation. It was not long that it was realized that an alternative means of mass transportation was needed in addition to the public bus system to aliviate the severe traffic situation that was being created, especially in the San Juan metropolitan area.
In 1967 proposals were made for the construction of a public train system to serve the city of San Juan. It was not until 1989 that Puerto Rico's Department of Transportation and Public Works (DTPW) officially proposed the construction of a new rail system. The train system was dubbed the Tren Urbano, Spanish for "Urban Train". In 1993, the Federal Transit Administration (FTA) selected the Tren Urbano as one of the Turnkey Demonstration Projects under the Intermodal Surface Transportation Efficiency Act of 1991. During 1996 and 1997, seven design-build contracts were awarded for different segments of the Tren Urbano Phase 1 system.
A number of companies shared the tasks for building the Tren Urbano including Siemens which was granted a concession to design and build the line and its rolling stock, and to operate it for the first five years. The company won a contract which was a "first" for North America in the scope of the work which it involved, and which was awarded in July 1996.
The construction project was plagued by delays, contractual disputes between the government and companies involved in the undertaking, as well as investigations into possible mismanagement of funds. The project cost has been estimated around USD $2.25 billion. The rail system was officially inagurated on December 17, 2004.
At present there are proposals to extend the rail system service to other municipalities such as Carolina (service parts from Río Piedras Station on already built tunnels) and Caguas as well as extending the Phase I route to the San Juan district of Santurce through another underground segment below the Ponce de León Avenue. Other proposals include extending the rail system to Old San Juan and the Luis Muñoz Marín International Airport.
- Tren Urbano Home Page – official site of ATI (in Spanish)
- Puerto Rico Public Art Project – Tren Urbano – Photos and information related to the artwork located on each of the train route's stations.
- Tren Urbano Pictures – Flickr Group for posting photos of the tren urbano.
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