The U.S. Department of Transportation’s federal Transit Administration (FTA) on May 5 announced the selection of six projects in six states to replace aging passenger railcars, “improving reliability, safety, and accessibility on the nation’s rail transit systems.”
Funded by President Biden’s Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, the approximately $703 million in project selections, FTA says, “represents first-time funding from the new Rail Vehicle Replacement Program, which was created to improve safety, service, and the customer experience on subways, commuter rail, and light rail systems.”
According to FTA, older railcars contribute to service delays and increased costs and lack newer amenities, such as digital signage and audio tools that improve the riding experience. They may also lack accessibility features–such as direct access into the railcar–for people with disabilities or anyone pushing a stroller. The Bipartisan Infrastructure Law will invest a total of $1.5 billion in new funding through 2026 for FTA’s Rail Vehicle Replacement Program.
- The Sacramento Regional Transit District (SacRT) in Sacramento, Calif., will receive $45.1 million to buy 16 light rail vehicles, which will replace older vehicles that have exceeded their useful life. This investment will improve the agency’s state of good repair needs and improve service and reliability for the region’s 1.7 million residents.
- The South Florida Regional Transportation Authority (SFRTA), which operates the Tri-Rail commuter rail service in Miami and along the 72-mile South Florida Rail Corridor, will receive $71.7 million to replace 24 rail vehicles (32% of its fleet). The funding will support new locomotives and passenger cars to replace older vehicles that have exceeded or are near the end of their useful life. This project will ensure safe, reliable, and efficient transportation for Tri-Rail’s 12,500 daily riders.
- The Chicago Transit Authority (CTA) will receive $200 million to buy up to 300 new electric propulsion passenger railcars to replace railcars that have been operating since the 1980s. This project will improve CTA’s state of good repair needs in a fleet where the average age of its railcars is nearly 40 years.
- The Bi-State Development Agency of the Missouri-Illinois Metropolitan District, the operator of the Metro public transportation system serving the St. Louis metropolitan region, will receive $196.3 million to replace 48 light rail vehicles that have exceeded or are near the end of their useful life. The project will improve service and reliability as it addresses state of good repair needs.
- The Greater Cleveland Regional Transit Authority (GCRTA) will receive $130 million to buy 60 new light rail and heavy rail vehicles to replace older vehicles that can operate on both systems, eliminating the need for GCRTA to run two separate fleets. This project will improve system reliability and safety and enhance the agency’s operational flexibility.
- The Utah Transit Authority (UTA) will receive $60 million to buy 20 light rail vehicles to replace older railcars. The project will improve service, reliability, and safety and significantly improve accessibility for riders by allowing direct access and reducing the use of boarding devices.
“Every day, millions of Americans rely on subways, commuter rail, and light rail to get to work or school, buy groceries, and see loved ones, but many railcars still in service are decades old and in need of replacement,” said U.S. Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg. “These grants will help bring riders faster, safer, more reliable service on America’s rails.”
“One-third of our nation’s subway and commuter rail vehicles are more than 25 years old,” added FTA Administrator Nuria Fernandez. “This program focuses on transit agencies that lack the funding they need to address overdue railcar replacements. We are proud to select these projects to improve passenger rail service for riders across the nation.”
In response to the NOFO, FTA received more than $3.5 billion dollars in funding requests.