Puerto Rico’s Tren Urbano
The Tren Urbano (in English: “Urban Train”) is a state of the art urban transportation project that is one of the most expensive construction projects ever undertaken in Puerto Rico. Costing over $2.2 billion, the Tren Urbano first opened for service in December of 2004, more than 8 years after the original contract was awarded to a consortium of companies led by Germany’s Siemens AG. The train runs between San Juan, Bayamón, and Guaynabo for a total distance of 10.7 miles. There are at present 16 stations although plans are afoot to extend the line into other neighborhoods. An extension to Luis Muñoz Marín International Airport has also been discussed. The beautiful, well-lit stations are decorated with publicly commissioned artwork from Puerto Rican artists.
The Tren Urbano was designed not to replace existing transportation systems, but to complement them by facilitating the movement of people in and out of the San Juan area. As such, the system has convenient connections to local bus, taxi and water ferry services. The Tren Urbano was cleverly marketed to the public by offering free service on weekends for its first six months of operation, then extending the free period to weekdays as well until June of 2005. At its peak, over 40,000 people used the Tren Urbano each day and, it is hoped, a good portion of those riders will maintain their new travel habits after the end of the free travel period. Current ticket rates are not expensive by American standards: just $1.50 for a ticket that includes a 2-hour bus transfer option. Students and senior citizens between the ages of 60 and 74 pay only $.75 each, while children under 6 and seniors over 75 can still ride the Tren Urbano for free.
The Tren Urbano is a convenient and cheap way to get around the busiest parts of urban Puerto Rico and no traveler‘s stay on the island is complete without a ride on the Urban Train!