Transit Briefs: Sound Transit, Amtrak, SCVTA

Written by Carolina Worrell, Senior Editor
TCMC Stations(Heather Poltrock

TCMC Stations(Heather Poltrock

Sound Transit moves forward on the purchase of 10 more Link cars. Also, Amtrak service from St. Paul, Minn., to Chicago, Ill., reaches the final design phase; and Sant Clara Valley Transportation Authority (SCVTA) vehicles are taking the place of Reading, Pennsylvania, B&O and Short Line on the new Monopoly San Jose Edition.

Sound Transit

Sound Transit is moving ahead on the purchase of 10 more Link cars to “buy back some system capacity being stretched and thinned out by Sound Transit 2 expansions,” according to a report by The Urbanist.

According to the report, agency staff say the extra vehicles will “help ensure more trips have four-car trains on East Link (the 2 Line) later in the decade,” but purchase of the extra cars “still hinges on successful negotiations with Siemens, the Link Series 2 train manufacturer, to build them.” A formal agreement will come back to the agency board early next year if Siemens okays the deal,” The Urbanist reports.

If all goes according to the plan, The Urbanist reports, the extra trains could be put into service by the start of the second quarter of 2028. Series 2 trains in the current order of 152 cars are planned to continue to delivery and acceptance into service through the end of 2025, according to the report.

According to the report, Sound Transit settled on 10 extra cars because that’s the number of vehicles that likely could be stored in increasingly tight operations and maintenance facilities (OMFs) in Seattle and Bellevue. The agency told The Urbanist that they could have exercised an option for 16 vehicles, a further six beyond what’s currently contemplated. Those extra trains, however, “would need to find storage outside of OMFs, which evidently is why they aren’t being pursued. Nevertheless, the agency previously suggested that it might find storage opportunities at other locations, such as elevated stations.”

The agency, The Urbanist reports, is allocating $74.2 million for the equipment, an average price of $7.4 million per car. Purchase of the 152 other Series 2 cars was considerably cheaper, coming out to about $4.9 million ($6.1 million in 2023$) per car. The added expenditure, The Urbanist reports, will mostly be drawn from funding planned for procurement of the Link Series 3 cars, anticipated for first delivery in 2029 with continued deliveries into 2032, by reducing that order by 10 cars—at least for now.

“Earlier acquisition of vehicles does have some slight negative financial capacity implications for the agency’s debt capacity and debt service coverage ratio. Remaining debt capacity is expected to fall from 13.1% to 12.9% and the debt service coverage is to be trimmed slightly from 1.63 to 1.62, edging ever closer to the 1.5 policy minimum,” according to the report.

According to The Urbanist report, “had the agency board delayed action on creating a budget action on the 10 extra cars, the agency likely would have missed its opportunity to get the purchase orders in Siemens’ build queue. Those extra vehicles, if successfully procured, will be important for improving service delivery on Link, but insufficient on their own. The agency still needs to figure out how to address a shortage of vehicles for Sound Transit 3 expansions and weigh other mitigation strategies to reduce impacts to riders and deliver on long-standing promises.”


Amtrak service from Chicago to the Twin Cities and points in between is expected to be implemented in 2025, according to a WSAW report.

According to the Wisconsin Department of Transportation (WisDOT), the Twin Cities-Milwaukee-Chicago (TCMC) Intercity Passenger Rail Project will add a second daily round-trip passenger train on the 411-miles corridor between Chicago and St. Paul, WSAW reports. The service will stop at all existing stations on Amtrak’s Empire Builder route, plus the Milwaukee Airport Rail Station (MARS).

According to the WSAW report, the service will use tracks on Amtrak’s Empire Builder and Hiawatha routes, as well as Metra Canadian Pacific (CP) Rail and Union Pacific (UP) right-of-way tracks.

The project’s goal, WSAW reports, is to increase travel operations between St. Paul, La Crosse, Milwaukee and Chicago. Most of the project is federally funded with Wisconsin set to contribute $6.2 million and Minnesota set to contribute $10 million.

Planning for the project began in 2021. According to a report by WUWM 89.7 FM, the states of Minnesota, Wisconsin and Illinois had been hoping to start the TCMC this year, but the project has been delayed until next spring.

WSAW reports that construction is anticipated to be completed in 2025.


SCVTA vehicles are taking the place of Reading, Pennsylvania, B&O and Short Line on the new Monopoly San Jose Edition, which launches Monday, Nov. 20 at the Winchester Mystery House in San Jose, Calif.

According to the agency, Top Trumps, USA, the official licensor of Monopoly, has created a San Jose Edition of the game where all 38 spots on the board will represent local areas that riders can travel to on SCVTA.

SCVTA will have Monopoly-themed bus and light rail wraps that will operate along the agency’s most popular routes, as well as a station takeover across its SAP Center. The bus and light rail wraps will be in place for six months.

“The Monopoly and VTA partnership is a great way to expand the VTA brand and stitch it to one of the most iconic board games in history,” the agency said. “This is a one-of-a-kind opportunity that will further expose VTA to Santa Clara County residents, especially to a younger generation of potential VTA riders.”

For the board game, SCVTA has bus and train pictures on the lid, the center montage and the board, as well as two VTA references on the Community Chest Cards.

At the start of 2024, the agency says it will launch VTA’s SmartCommute Program to encourage Santa Clara County residents to register for the program. At the same time, those that register and log four transit trips, for the month of January 2024, will be entered in a random drawing for a chance to win one of 20 Monopoly games.

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