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Sun Metro celebrates opening of new Upper East Side Transit Center – El Paso Times

by Nov 9, 2022Blog0 comments

El Paso residents and commuters in the city’s fast-growing Upper East Side have new options for using Sun Metro buses and park and ride for work and play.
City leaders, alongside local and federal transit officials, gathered Nov. 1 to celebrate the opening of Sun Metro’s new Upper East Side Transit Center and Montana Brio on Edgemere Boulevard. The center connects to the Five Points Transit Center and offers three new park and ride lots.
The $49.2 million project, first conceived 13 years ago, was funded through a $31.3 million grant from the Federal Transit Administration and around $15 million in state funding through the Texas Department of Transportation, with the remainder coming from local funds.
Inside, the transit center plays host to a winding, wooden seating area and oversized windows, while concrete seating spaces and a small, naturally landscaped area adorn the outdoor waiting area, which sits just beyond a brightly colored Brio sign.
Speaking during the ceremony, El Paso Mayor Oscar Leeser recalled being on hand for the first Brio ribbon-cutting and expressed excitement over being present for the final leg of its expansion.
“To finally be here, to actually cut the ribbon to continue to connect our community … we need to make sure we provide that transportation,” Leeser said. “We need to make sure that people have the opportunity to get from one point to the other.”
East Side city Rep. Isabel Salcido, whose district houses the new operation, was excited to see a transit connector make its way to the Upper East Side.
“District 5 was the fastest growing district and we’re the last one to be able to address the transit,” Salcido said. “I’m so happy to finally see it here. It’s reliable, it’s fast.
“I am also very happy that this community is going to have a reliable, safe way to get to Downtown and get around El Paso because we are the farthest district.”
Federal Transit Administration Region 6 Regional Administrator Gail Lyssy, who traveled from Dallas to be on hand for the morning ceremony, said the project represents part of President Joe Biden’s effort to expand and modernize public transportation across the country. The Bipartisan Infrastructure Law passed in 2021, she said, provided an additional $5.3 billion to funding for buses.
“This is an exciting day for public transportation in El Paso and I’m glad to be here to help you celebrate the completion of the fourth and final leg – maybe not final leg ‒ of the El Paso Rapid-Transit Brio system,” Lyssy said, hinting at another project that is currently just an idea.
The new Montana Brio service will provide “quick and easy connections to all parts of El Paso,” she said.
“At FTA, we strive to help communities through public transportation and that includes supporting transit systems everywhere, from our nation’s largest cities to rural communities,” Lyssy said. “Everyone deserves access to all life has to offer. And thanks to Sun Metro, people here in El Paso will now have access to fast, frequent service to and from this quickly growing Upper East Side.
“For too long, we’ve had to ride on buses that have been pressed into service well beyond their useful lives,” she continued. “For too long, transit agencies have had to scrimp on maintenance facilities and training for their workers. Now, thanks to the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law and the commitment of President Biden and (U.S. Transportation) Secretary (Pete) Buttigieg, we are able to improve air quality and improve the reliability of transit service for thousands of riders in El Paso and across the country.”
Sun Metro Chief Transit and Field Operations Officer Ellen Smyth illuminated further the project Lyssy hinted at ‒ an idea for a fifth project to connect the new Upper East Side center to the Alameda Corridor ‒ but focused her comments on the new transit center.
She urged residents to consider utilizing the park-and-ride lots, which allow drivers to park their cars and catch the bus rather than battle traffic or hunt for parking spaces.
“The main goal for Sun Metro is to have reliable, dependable, safe and efficient transit service for the citizens of El Paso,” Smyth said. “We want it to be so fast and dependable and reliable that you can just step out of your house and not even have to think twice about it.”