The single-tiered Comet cars as part of the FrontRunner trains will be removed from service on Monday, April 18, 2022. These older cars have served UTA and its riders well since FrontRunner’s inception in 2008. Please see the information below and feel free to reach out to us via Customer Service if you have additional feedback or questions.

What is UTA doing with the Comet cars?

UTA is removing the Comet cars from regular FrontRunner service and placing them in reserve this April Change Day, effective April 18, 2022.

Why is UTA removing the Comet cars from service?

The comet cars are 50 years old; they have exceeded their standard life span. 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.

What does UTA and/or riders gain from removing the Comet cars?

In addition to the challenges with maintaining the Comet cars, riders will experience improved reliability on FrontRunner; there will be fewer delays due to maintenance problems with the Comet cars, and improved acceleration/deceleration due to the reduced weight. UTA will also save $600,000-$800,000 per year on fuel and maintenance costs.

What is UTA going to do with the Comet cars?

UTA will retain the Comet cars in case they are needed before additional commuter rail vehicles can be acquired. The Comet cars will be available if needed to provide increased capacity for large community events or unexpected spikes in ridership.

Why remove the Comet cars from service at this time?

UTA is currently working with elected leaders and partners agencies on plans for modernization and future service improvements on FrontRunner. The Comet cars need to be removed before replacement preparations can begin, such as construction on the low platform sections of the stations to raise them for level boarding. Removing the Comet cars is a “first step” in preparing for the future of FrontRunner service.

Additionally, the new Vineyard Station was constructed with raised platforms. Unless there is a specific service need, when that station opens, we will not run the Comet cars to prevent issues with platform height.

What are you going to replace the Comet cars with? What are UTA’s plans for acquiring vehicles for future ridership growth on FrontRunner?

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. In the meantime, we are keeping the Comet cars and can put them back in service if necessary to meet rider demand.

Isn’t UTA concerned with capacity issues on FrontRunner if the Comet cars are removed?

UTA has been closely monitoring ridership levels in preparation for removing the Comet cars. Current ridership on FrontRunner can be accommodated with three-car FrontRunner trains, and there is room for ridership growth before replacement vehicles are needed. However, we are retaining the Comet cars and they will be available if needed to increase capacity for things like major events or spikes in ridership.

How many passengers ride in the Comet Car?

With the current four-car train configuration, the Comet cars provide 25 percent of seating capacity, but the percentage of riders using the Comet cars is consistently in the single digits. During Free Fare February, fewer than 6 percent of riders used the Comet car. The overwhelming majority of riders are using the bi-level cars.

What about safety issues and crowding on FrontRunner as the community continues to emerge from the COVID-19 pandemic? UTA has been very diligent in responding to the COVID-19 pandemic, implementing numerous efforts to protect our employees and riders. We continue to perform enhanced daily cleaning and disinfecting procedures, and we are implementing additional steps such as installing UV lights in the HVAC units to improve air circulation, which is anticipated to be completed by the end of the summer 2022.

While the federal TSA mask mandate on public transit is currently scheduled to expire on April 18, UTA will continue to provide masks on our buses and trains for riders who would like one.

If you’d liked a little something to remember the Comet cars, look for train host while you are traveling this week and ask for a UTA Comet car sticker.

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