PuertoRicoWOW News Service
Urban Train Offers First Test Ride To About 1,000 People
By Proviana Colon Diaz
August 8, 2000
SAN JAUN 08/08/00 - It will still be two years before the Urban Train is completed, but some 1,000 people, including Gov. Pedro Rossello, were the first to take a one-kilometer ride aboard the rail system Monday.
"I was told it was going to be a smooth ride, but it isn't until one can experience this trip from here [Altamira] to Torrimar that one can really understand how advanced the system is and how comfortable it is," said Rossello in a press conference following the two-minute ride.
The media also was invited to take the ride aboard the state-of-the-art car built by Sacramento, Ca.-based company Siemmens. As people were asked to sit down, Rossello and his entourage were treated to a glimpse into the conductor's cabin in the train. Although the trains will be electronically controlled, there will be conductors at the end of each train to provide a sense of security to riders and to be on alert should anything happen.
As the train left the Altamira station around 4 p.m., riders experienced a smooth, silent ride aboard the nearly $2 billion rail system that will provide transportation to some 115,000 passengers daily from Bayamon to Santurce. Following its first ride, the train stopped at the Torrimar station and went back to its point of departure to pick up another group.
Transportation and Public Works Secretary Sergio Gonzalez said other such rides would be given from time to time to coordinate the train's computerized systems.
"Today [Monday] was the first ride with passengers. That was an important test that needed to be done," Gonzalez said, adding that the ride was a total success.
The first phase of the Urban Train is expected to be completed by 2002. The ride is expected to take less that 30 minutes, with the train stopping at 16 stations along its route. The stations have been strategically located near places such as hospitals, courts, government agencies and the University of Puerto Rico Rio Piedras Campus. At is maximum capacity, each train will be able to transport 13,000 people at a time.
Meanwhile, a two-hour long ceremony took place prior to the first test ride in which Rossello, New Progressive Party (NPP) President Carlos Pesquera, Gonzalez, Resident Commissioner Carlos Romero Barcelo, project manager spokesman Rudolph van Ark, House Speaker Edison Misla Alvarado, Bayamon Mayor Ramon Luis Rivera, Guaynabo Mayor Hector O'Neill and the island's Federal Transit Administration director Nuria Fernandez all spoke.
Fernandez said federal authorities were totally supportive of the project and believed that the funds and the project were being handed properly.