Metro recently passed their budget for the 2013 fiscal year. The most widely reported news from Metro’s budget is a planned fare increase that will take affect in July. Details of the far increase will be presented in a series of public meetings later this month.
Much more fascinating, however, is a new capital project listed in the budget that Metro has not yet publicly spoken about. It seems that Metro is investigating the possibility of fully automating the MetroLink line in Illinois from JJK Center to Shiloh-Scott AFB.
Metro’s budget is unfortunately short on details. Attempts to contact Metro regarding this project were unsuccessful aside from being told that more information will be available by this summer.
Assuming Metro decides to proceed with this project, Metro would. Evoke one of the only fully automated transit systems in the US. As the project is only for the segment from JJK Center to Shiloh-Scott, MetroLink would also become the only partially fully automated transit line in the world.
Today, the MetroLink Red Line takes 75 minutes to travel the 38 miles between Lambert Airport and Shiloh-Scott. The extent of the automation project takes 37 minutes to travel between JJK Center and Shiloh-Scott. Fully automating this segment, aside from saving Metro money from a reduction in labor expenses, should enable Metro to increase service in Illinois by extending the Blue Line out from Fairview Heights all the way to Shiloh-Scott.
Automating MetroLink will require full grade separation of the transit line. The rural environment MetroLink passes through in Illinois, however, should not make this too difficult to implement as there are only a handful of grade crossings on the line.