San Juan, Puerto Rico/Minillas Extension

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Minillas Extension

San Juan, Puerto Rico

(November 1998)


The Puerto Rico Department of Transportation and Public Works (PRDTPW), through its Highway and Transportation Authority (PRHTA), is proposing an extension of its heavy rail rapid transit system, known as Tren Urbano Phase I, which is currently under construction. The proposed investment would extend Tren Urbano Phase I approximately one mile from its current terminus at Sagrado Carazon to the Minillas area of Santurce. The alignment is a subway of approximately one mile in length under Ponce de Leon Avenue.

The capital costs of the Minillas extension are estimated at $468 million (escalated dollars). Ridership estimates for the extension forecast an increase in Tren Urbano ridership by 14,400 new riders per day in 2015.

Minillas Extension Summary Description

Proposed Project Heavy Rail Line;
1 mile, 2 stations
Total Capital Cost ($YOE) $468.0 million
Section 5309 Share ($YOE) $374.4 million
Annual Operating Cost ($YOE) $3.4 million
Ridership Forecast (2015) 14,400 daily new riders
FY 2000 Financial Rating: Not Rated
FY 2000 Project Justification Rating: Medium-High
FY 2000 Overall Project Rating: Not Rated

The overall project rating applies to this Annual New Starts Report and reflects conditions as of November 1998. Project evaluation is an ongoing process. As new starts projects proceed through development, the estimates of costs, benefits, and impacts are refined. The FTA ratings and recommendations will be updated annually to reflect new information, changing conditions, and refined financing plans.


In 1993, the Federal Transit Administration (FTA) selected Tren Urbano as one of the Turnkey Demonstration Projects under the Intermodal Surface Transportation Efficiency Act (ISTEA). A Full Funding Grant Agreement (FFGA) was signed in March 1996 for the Phase I 10.7-mile (17.2-kilometer) section of Tren Urbano. Phase I is currently under construction.

The Minillas Extension has been included in previous planning studies as part of the rail system planned for metropolitan San Juan and has been included in the regional Land Use and Transportation Plan since 1982. Minillas is located in the Santurce area of San Juan, which is home to government offices of the Commonwealth, the Luis A. Ferre Fine Arts Centers, four major hospitals, and is one of the main commercial and residential districts on the Island.

In May 1997, a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) was signed by FTA and PRHTA stating that the planning process undertaken for the Minillas Extension satisfied the requirements of a Major Investment Study. Further, PRHTA was authorized to proceed with development of a DEIS for the extension of Tren Urbano Phase I to Minillas. In August 1997, a Notice of Intent to prepare a DSEIS was published in the Federal Register. The Draft Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement (DSEIS) was published in July 1998 and identified the subway alignment beneath Ponce de Leon Avenue as the preferred extension alternative. A Final SEIS is now being prepared to examine in more detail the impacts of the Ponce de Leon extension.

TEA-21 Section 3030(a)(82) authorized the San Juan Tren Urbano Extension to Minillas for final design and construction. Through FY 1999, Congress has not appropriated any funds for the Minillas Extension.


The following criteria have been estimated in conformance with FTA’s Technical Guidance on Section 5309 New Starts Criteria. Data are presented for the comparison of the New Starts to the TSM alternative (since the No-Build analyzed in the EIS closely resembles a TSM alternative). Most of the following evaluation criteria, unless noted, reflect conditions which include the Tren Urbano, Phase I project and the Minillas Extension along Ponce de Leon Avenue. N/A indicates that data are unavailable for this specific measure.


Mobility Improvements

Rating: Medium

PRHTA estimates that the Minillas Extension will result in the following annual travel time savings.

Mobility Improvements New Start vs. No-Build New Start vs. TSM
Annual Travel Time Savings (Hours) N/A 1.0 million

Based on 1990 US census data, there are an estimated 24,008 low-income households within a ½ mile radius of the proposed 18 stations of the Tren Urbano Phase I and Minillas Extension (4,350 low-income households estimated for the two Minillas Extension stations).

Environmental Benefits

Rating: High

The San Juan area is currently in compliance with all National Ambient Air Quality Standards (NAAQS). PHRTA estimates the following annual emissions reductions for the Tren Urbano I and Minillas Extension.

Criteria Pollutant New Start vs. No-Build New Start vs. TSM
Carbon Monoxide (CO) N/A decrease of 13,802 annual tons
Nitrogen Oxide (NOx) N/A decrease of 699 annual tons
Hydrocarbons (HC) N/A decrease of 1,515 annual tons
Particulate Matter (PM10) N/A decrease of 11 annual tons
Carbon Dioxide (CO2) N/A decrease of 48,564 annual tons

PRHTA estimates the proposed project will result in the following savings in regional energy consumption (measured in British Thermal Units – BTU).

Annual Energy Savings New Start vs. No-Build New Start vs. TSM
BTU (millions) N/A decrease of 488,977 million annual BTU

Operating Efficiencies

Rating: Low

PHRTA estimates an increase in systemwide operating cost per passenger mile (New Start including Tren Urbano Phase I and Minillas Extension).

Operating Efficiencies No-Build TSM New Start
System Operating Cost per Passenger Mile (2015) N/A $0.17 $0.23

Values reflect 2015 ridership forecast and 1997 dollars.

Cost Effectiveness

Rating: High

PHRTA estimates the following cost effectiveness indices (New Start including the Tren Urbano Phase I and Minillas Extension).

Cost Effectiveness New Start vs. No-Build New Start vs. TSM
Incremental Cost per Incremental Passenger (1997) N/A $6.99

Values reflect 2015 ridership forecast and 1997 dollars.

Transit-Supportive Existing Land Use and Future Patterns

Rating: Medium-High

The Medium-High land use rating reflects the compact development and promotion of mixed use developments in the area. The proposed extension traverses the district of Santurce, which is the traditional center of government and commerce densely arranged in a fine-grained street system. The Puerto Rico Planning Board’s Land Use Plan Objectives and Public Policies promote mixed use developments to support greater accessibility among various land uses. The plan also discourages urban sprawl by limiting development where public facilities do not already exist. Development of specific plans and policies for stations along the proposed Manillas Extension awaits the selection of the line alignment and the determination of station locations. Pedestrian amenities are addressed in the Special Zoning Regulation for Santurce as well as the Governor’s Guide for the Regulation of Public Space Infrastructure. The Transportation Plan of Puerto Rico proposes parking management and regulation to adjust parking prices and supply to encourage transit use.

Other Factors

Multimodal Planning: Tren Urbano Phase I and the proposed Minillas Extension are being integrated with bus and public improvements. The Commonwealth is implementing a phased restructuring of AMA and Metrobus routes as a feeder for Tren Urbano as well as transit centers and intermodal transfer stations.

Turnkey Construction: Tren Urbano Phase I is one of the FTA designated Turnkey Demonstration Projects. Phase I is being constructed and will be operated under a turnkey procurement which has expedited the implementation of the project. The Minillas Extension would also employ turnkey procurement.

Local Financial Commitment

Proposed Non-Section 5309 Share of Total Project Costs: 20%

The financing plan for the Minillas Extension is interrelated with funding for Phase I and the highway program for the Commonwealth. PRHTA has indicated a total of 80 percent Federal share for the Minillas Extension, including preliminary engineering and design of the Extension. This would bring the total federal discretionary share for Tren Urbano Phase I and the Minillas Extension to $681.8 million or roughly one-third of the total project cost.

Stability and Reliability of Capital Financing Plan

Rating: Not Rated

The project’s capital financing plan has not been rated because the financial assessment requires additional review. An updated review will be provided in the supplemental New Starts Report to Congress.

Stability and Reliability of Operating Finance Plan

Rating: Not Rated

The project’s operating financing plan has not been rated because the financial assessment requires additional review. An updated review will be provided in the supplemental New Starts Report to Congress.

Locally Proposed Financing Plan

(Reported in $YOE)

Proposed Source of Funds Total Funding
Appropriations to Date
Federal: Section 5309 New Start $374.4 $0.0 million appropriated through FY 1999 for the Minillas Extension
Local: Various Sources $93.6


Total: $468.0

Note: Funding proposal reflects assumptions made by project sponsors, and are not DOT or FTA assumptions. Totals may not add due to rounding.

[Minillas Extension Map (PDF)]