THE United States Department of Transportation’s Federal Transit Administration (FTA) has announced six recipients in six states which are to receive funding to replace ageing rail passenger vehicles to help improve reliability, safety and accessibility.

The $US 703m total cost of the rail vehicle replacement programme is being funded by US president Mr Joe Biden’s Bipartisan Infrastructure Law and has been drawn up with a particular focus on metro, commuter rail and light rail lines.

The FTA says that older passenger rail vehicles are major contributors to service delays and rising costs, as well as often lacking modern amenities such as digital public information signage and audio systems that improve passengers’ travel experience. They often also lack accessibility features for people with restricted mobility or who may be pushing walking aids.

“One third of our nation’s subway and commuter rail vehicles are more than 25 years old,” says FTA administrator, Ms Nuria Fernandes. “This programme focuses on transit agencies that lack the funding they need to address overdue railcar replacements.”

The projects selected for funding based on criteria listed in the notice of funding opportunity (NOFO) are as follows:

  • Sacramento Regional Transit District (SacRT) in Sacramento, California, will receive $US 45.1m to buy 16 LRVs to replace older vehicles which have exceeded their useful service lives, reducing maintenance costs and improving service reliability for 1.7 million residents.
  • South Florida Regional Transportation Authority (SFRTA), operator of the Tri-Rail commuter rail service in Miami and along the 115.9km South Florida Rail Corridor, will receive $US 71.7m to replace 24 rail vehicles forming 32% of its fleet. The funding will be used both for new locomotives and coaches nearing the end of their useful lives, ensuring safe and efficient transport for 12,500 passengers per day.
  • Chicago Transit Authority (CTA) will receive $US 200m to buy up to 300 EMU cars to replace ones which have been operating since the 1980s.
  • The Bi-State Development Agency of the Missouri-Illinois Metropolitan District, operator of the St Louis metro system, will receive $US 196.3m to replace 48 LRVs that are near the end of their useful lives.
  • Greater Cleveland Regional Transit Authority (GCRTA) will receive $US 130m to buy 60 new tram-trains to replace older vehicles. The new rolling stock will be able to operate on both light rail and conventional networks, improving operational flexibility as well as reliability.
  • Utah Transit Authority (UTA) will receive $US 60m to buy 20 LRVs to replace older vehicles.

“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 United States transportation secretary, Mr Pete Buttigieg. “These grants will help bring riders faster, safer, more reliable service on America’s rails.” 

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