Tourism/Transportation

P3 Authority Board moves Caguas train project forward

The Novotren route from Caguas to San Juan. The Novotren is expected to reduce the commute between Caguas and San Juan to 14 minutes.

Puerto Rico Public-Private Partnership Authority’s Board has finished evaluating the Caguas-San Juan commuter rail project desirability and convenience study, giving the agency the go-ahead to continue the procedures to establish a partnership for the project, P3 Authority Executive Director Grace Santana said Wednesday.

The $400 million light-rail system known as Novotrén is expected to move 14,000 passengers daily, drawing users from Caguas and adjoining municipalities, including Humacao, Naguabo, Juncos, San Lorenzo, Cayey and Cidra with the San Juan metropolitan area.

“We are moving one step forward with the Caguas-San Juan Commuter Rail Project. Now we will start the evaluation and selection process of the private group that will develop the train,” said Santana.

This group will be responsible for the design, construction, financing, operation and maintenance of the train for a period of 30-40 years. As this media outlet reported in May, the Novotrén project has drawn interest from at least nine consortiums have expressed an interest in developing the commuter service. They include firms from Germany, India, Italy, South Korea, Spain and the U.S. mainland.

Novotrén is billed as “an innovative and sustainable mass transit system” that will unite Caguas, the central-eastern region, and the metropolitan area — three zones that concentrate 43 percent of the island’s population.

Its biggest selling points are that it will reduce automobile dependency, alleviate congestion, reduce emissions, improve livability through an improved and expanded transit service and stimulate economic development.

Once running, the Novotrén will make a commute which in heavy traffic can take up to three hours into a breezy, 14-minute ride.

The project’s desirability and convenience study will soon be published on the PPPA webpage: www.p3.gov.pr, Santana said.

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