UTA to auction off FrontRunner Comet train cars
SALT LAKE CITY — The Utah Transit Authority announced Monday that it plans to auction off its 25 Comet train cars so it can apply for federal grants to purchase future rail cars.
The classic, single-tiered cars were retired in April and initially sent to storage so they could be brought back into service for increased capacity during large community events.
However, the 50-year-old cars have exceeded their standard lifespan.
“It is becoming more difficult and costly to maintain the cars and replace worn or broken parts, which are nearly impossible to find. The challenges of keeping the cars in good and safe operating condition for our riders necessitate their removal,” UTA said.
Removing the Comet cars will reduce delays caused by maintenance problems and improve acceleration/deceleration due to the reduced weight, according to UTA.
UTA said it will also save $600,000-$800,000 per year on fuel and maintenance costs.
The cars were initially purchased from the New Jersey Transit Corporation and refurbished for $400,000 after FrontRunner ridership spiked in 2008.
Transit officials said the refurbished price was a steal compared to the $2.2 million price tag for new cars.
Future FrontRunner plans
In order to apply for federal grants, UTA said it has to auction off the Comet cars. The auction runs through Nov. 1. UTA has partnered with TNT Auction to manage the bids.
We are auctioning off our fleet of Comet cars to prepare to acquire newer railcars. These 25 1970’s railcars must be removed from inventory to apply for federal grants. The auction will run from October 17th to November 1st. For more about this, see https://t.co/U0PmIJgPP7. pic.twitter.com/6oAFu3XHM5
— Utah Transit Authority – UTA (@RideUTA) October 17, 2022
FrontRunner trains will run with three bi-level cars until future vehicles are purchased. However, removing the Comet cars was the “first step” in preparing for future FrontRunner service.
UTA says it plans to raise low platform sections of FrontRunner stations for level boarding, and the new Vineyard station was constructed with these higher platforms and couldn’t load/unload passengers from any Comet cars.
“As part of the planning efforts for future FrontRunner service, UTA is evaluating options for replacement vehicles, but a decision has not been made at this time. We expect the platforms to be raised and replacement vehicles secured by the time they are needed,” UTA said.
UTA said three-car FrontRunner trains can handle the current demand, “and there is room for ridership growth before replacement vehicles are needed.”
Other plans include using $300 million allocated by the Utah Legislature to improve service through strategic additions of double tracking.
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