The Halo Line, New York, United States
FXCollaborative

Around the world, aging urban centers are badly in need of improving connections between areas of their cities that have capacity for additional density but lack robust public transit options. As the traditional hub-and-spoke configurations of industrial-era cities transform into polycentric metropolises for the information age, areas with new housing must be linked with new job centers via a convenient, 21st-century transportation system. This system must be reliable and expeditious, but must also face the challenge of embedding itself in already-urbanized environments without inducing the exorbitant capital and environmental costs of 20th century planning and construction methods.
 
Using our home town of New York City as an example, we envisioned a new type of transit line to meet this demand. Dubbed “The Halo Line”, our vision of a lightweight aerial tram system would be built to float above existing streets and railway rights-of-way, minimizing the line’s physical, economic and political footprint while maximizing speed and user convenience. This line would dramatically enhance access to many neighborhoods currently under-served by transit, connect existing transit spokes to each other, and unite outlying New York City neighborhoods and adjacent municipalities in a 57-mile loop.
 
Our proposed route connects neighborhoods with potential for increased residential density with existing and emerging job centers, both within New York City and across adjacent, but disparate, state and city borders. Along the way, the Halo Line stops to allow transfers to 22 other transit lines from five different systems, including subway, light rail, and a proposed streetcar. By nature of its placement above existing transportation routes, The Halo Line is a relatively low-impact, low-cost intervention that results in maximum transit efficiency. Aerial tram cars descend to ground level for stops, and cross rivers using existing bridges. The system minimizes interference with existing traffic patterns, and can remain operable in flood situations. 
 
As an electric transit solution, operating the Halo Line produces zero emissions, curbing air pollution, and the system is more advantageous than equally flexible bus rapid transit infrastructure because it does not occupy existing road space. Streets beneath the Halo Line can continue to operate as traffic lanes or be re-purposed into a variety of assets, including pedestrian and bicycle paths, park space, or low-rise infill development that knits together neighborhoods previously disconnected by wide roadways. Property adjacent to the Halo Line will be catalyzed for walkable, mixed-use development, resulting in new growth and new urban centers. 
 
In both New York and other large cities facing transportation infrastructure challenges, cost-effective transit investment is the key to unlocking untapped potential for the creation of jobs and housing. The Halo Line answers that call by connecting existing opportunities within old-growth cities, offering a clear path for growth in the 21st century.
 

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