METRO Plans to Add Nearly 20 Cars to Main Street Line

The Metropolitan Transit Authority has announced plans to add 19 more light rail cars to its fleet. METRO says the new cars will help serve more riders on the existing main street line. Wendy Siegle reports.
Right now METRO has 18 light rail cars running up and down its seven mile Main Street line. METRO President and CEO George Greanias says there needs to be more. The red line had its 75-millionith boarding last December, four years ahead of schedule. Greanias says the extra cars will mean trains will come more often.

"With or without, and I would make that point without the expansion of the METRORail Program, we need new rail cars for Main Street today."

METRO plans to buy the 19 cars from Siemens for no more than $83 million dollars. The cars would come off an order placed by a Utah transit agency, which ended up not needing them. METRO estimates that the additional cars would bring one-million more boardings a year to the Main Street line.

"One of the benefits of this it that we’ll get the cars much earlier, which means we’ll be able to beef up the service on the Main Street line much sooner than anticipated. And that’s going to have a very positive ridership impact; it’s going to have a positive revenue impact; and most importantly, it’s really going to give customers better service."

METRO says eighty percent of the cost of the cars will be paid with stimulus funds. But to get the money, the cars must be delivered by 2015. Greanias says METRO expects the first light rail car to ship by October 2012. But METRO critic Paul Magaziner thinks buying the cars is more about making sure the agency gets the stimulus money in time than about needing more cars on Main Street.

"METRO once again is signing a contract for $83 million, hoping and praying that the $64 million dollars from the 2009 shovel ready stimulus money will still be available to METRO in 2013."

METRO is also in the process of purchasing 39 cars for the North and Southeast lines which are still under construction.