An earlier version of this article stated the Capitol Shuttle extension would be built fully elevated and two stops long. However, the extension will actually have three stops, including an infill station at 5th St/Warren Sq, and will start off underground to connect from the existing CS tunnel.
QUENTINSBURGH- Back when it first opened, the seven stop Capitol Shuttle was an integral part of the QUARTA QLine system. The system was going through rapid expansion, and the system made it possible to transfer across several of these major lines without having to go all the way into downtown. It also provided a direct line to the Capitol Mall from the 1, 2, 4 and 5 (today, it connects to the 13 and 14 as well). Students could get to Quentinsburgh State International University from line 3, and two stations not served by any other lines (Garland Park and Freedemian Pkwy/Capitol) opened in neighborhoods nearby that needed it. Acting as north downtown Quentinsburgh’s main connection to the rest of the system, the small one car Capitol Shuttle flourished, seeing huge ridership levels for such a small route.
However, it would soon be discovered that the Capitol Shuttle had two major flaws. First, it wasn’t able to connect to Line 7 due to where the tracks crossed, losing one of the most important connections in the system, and second, by ending in the Capitol Mall, it failed to connect back around to the lines heading east, the 2, 7, and more recently, the 14. Suddenly it was clear that the shuttle didn’t connect to any of the lines serving eastern Quentinsburgh, simply the ones going north. It still acted as a valuable addition to the system, as only two other transfer stations in downtown actually made the connections it provided possible.
Today, however, with two new east-west tunnels through downtown, transfers are easier than ever. A new tunnel on line 4 connects line 5 with the 7 and 14 heading to the airport. Line 2’s new C shaped route connects several major lines through and around downtown, being home to two of the systems’ largest transfer hubs, Wellson/QSU Hospitals and Fredrick St/Convention Ctr.
Line 13 is especially important, almost replacing the Capitol Shuttle in all functionality. With its loop-like route and its new east-west tunnel between Grand Ave and James St, line 13 literally connects the 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 7, and 14 all without leaving downtown and within 7 stops. The 7 stop CS (Capitol Shuttle) connects the 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 13, and 14, but in a much less convenient way, and without connecting to line 7 at all, generally considered the second most important line in the system. The CS is also one of the most outdated lines, being the only line to have stations and platforms that have never been remodeled.
With alternatives like the 13 existing now, the Capitol Shuttle is seeing the lowest ridership in the line’s thirty year history. It had at one point gotten so low that earlier this year QUARTA had considered just shutting it down. However, outcry from the Garland Park community, which relies on the CS-only subway stop there and makes up about 80% of its current ridership, pushed QUARTA to leave the line open.
Since then, QUARTA has been looking for a way to save the line. When creating plans for line 10, using the Capitol Shuttle tracks was considered, but was quickly taken off the table after it became clear that doing so would eliminate all connections line 10 would have had in downtown. A concept for making a new tunnel and running the CS under DaSilva St to connect to eastbound lines was also suggested, but cost and difficulty in construction removed that option as well.
However, they appear to have found a solution. “This could be the very thing that saves the Capitol Shuttle”, one planner we talked to commented.
QUARTA proposes a simple, three station extension of the CS along a new stretch of elevated track (though it begins underground) to be built along Arthur Read Blvd, creating transfers at Arthur Read/Fredrick (2, 2X, 10 [future]) and Arthur Read/Freeman Station (4, 4X, 7, 7X, 14, 14X) and an infill station at 5th St/Warren Sq. The improved line could act as a downtown bypass of sorts, as transfers from trains from the east to northbound trains can suddenly be made without having to crowd downtown stations. Also, such an extension makes connections between the different parts of lines 2, 4, 10, and 14 easier, not to mention the ease of connecting to a line like the 5 that doesn’t really serve downtown or connect well.
The extension would also serve to connect riders from the east side of the city, nearby Hayes University, and even from QCommute line C2 to the Capitol Mall and Quentinsburgh State International University. Riders will no longer have to go through downtown to get to the Capitol Mall, while finally connecting to line 7.
With planning almost done and construction soon to begin, the three stop extension should be done by late 2017 and ready for operation at that time. It should finally restore the ridership to the line that is needed.