$60 million Awarded to UTA for TRAX Vehicle Replacement Project
Congressional infrastructure bill will update Utah’s light rail system
(Salt Lake City, Utah) The U.S. Department of Transportation is awarding the Utah Transit Authority $60 million for UTA’s Light Rail Vehicle Replacement Project, as part of the Federal Transit Authority’s (FTA) Rail Vehicle Replacement program. The FTA program, established by the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, was designed to help transit agencies nationwide replace aging rail rolling stock to improve the reliability, safety, and accessibility of the country’s rail transit systems. UTA is one of only six public transit agencies in the United States receiving funds from this FTA program.
UTA’s original light rail vehicles have high floors. To enter these vehicles, passengers must climb three steep steps from the platform, or ascend a switchback station ramp. This poses safety and accessibility issues. The first phase of this project will replace 20 high-floor cars with low-floor vehicles, increasing accessibility, enhancing safety, and improving the system’s state of good repair.
Many UTA Light Rail system riders come from disadvantaged populations with higher accessibility needs. And with Salt Lake City being considered for the 2030 or 2034 Olympic Games, safety and accessibility of the city’s light rail is a top priority.
“UTA is delighted by today’s grant award announcement of $60 million from the Federal Transit Administration’s Rail Vehicle Replacement Grant Program,” says Carlton Christensen, Chair of UTA’s Board of Trustees. “We are extremely appreciative of Utah’s Congressional Delegation leaders and to the FTA for their strong support for this critical transit project and for important infrastructure investments in Utah.”
Long-terms costs are less to replace these high floor vehicles than overhauling them. This project will ensure UTA’s light rail system remains viable for at least another twenty-five years, while improving local community accessibility and safety.
UTA Executive Director Jay Fox said, “UTA is committed to exceeding our customers’ expectations, and one of the first things they expect is safety and convenience as they ride UTA. Thanks to the vital support of our Congressional Delegation, this FTA grant will make our TRAX service safer, more convenient, and better prepared for Utah’s future growth and economic development.”
UTA will continue seeking matching funds, as well as additional state, local, and federal funds, to complete the second phase of its Accessible, Olympics-Ready Light Rail Project. $240 million is the full replacement cost for all 40 light rail vehicles.