By Debbie Arrington
Light rail service in the Sacramento region will soon get a major upgrade, making riding the train easier and more accessible than ever. At the same time, this modernization supports local jobs: The new light rail vehicles will be built in Sacramento, too.
Sacramento Regional Transit District (SacRT) recently announced the purchase of 20 low-floor light rail vehicles, with the option to purchase up to 76, from local manufacturer Siemens Mobility, Inc. Valued at about $100 million, that deal marked the first time in 20 years that SacRT had bought new vehicles for its aging light rail fleet.
Funding for that purchase came from the Transit and Intercity Rail Capitol Program (TIRCP) and Proposition 1A to modernize the light rail fleet. The first cars from that deal are expected to be delivered in 2022.
Shortly after the late April announcement of this 20-vehicle purchase, SacRT received more money to buy more new light rail vehicles. Through TIRCP, the California State Transportation Agency awarded SacRT $23.6 million towards purchase of another eight low-floor vehicles and station improvements to accommodate the new cars.
As a first step, SacRT will convert 29 stations, with a plan to convert all stations as funding becomes available, for the new low-floor cars. Along with the vehicle purchases, these renovations represent the beginning of SacRT’s system-wide modernization.
Electric-powered and emissions-free, Siemens’ S700 light rail trains feature low-level boarding at every doorway, wider aisles, spacious seating and larger windows for better light and a better view. Besides being wheelchair and stroller friendly, the new cars also
“The new modern low-floor cars will also help reduce traffic congestion and inspire new riders to get onboard.”
Board chairman, Sacramento Regional Transit District
offer more storage for bicycles and luggage. With improved reliability, the new cars will be quieter and more spacious, offering a smoother and more comfortable ride.
“These new light rail cars from the Siemens plant here in Sacramento are a huge leap forward for Regional Transit to improve accessibility and comfort for our riders from the disabled community, seniors, bicyclists and families with strollers,” said Steve Hansen, SacRT board chairman and Sacramento city councilman. “(For our) growing region, the new modern low-floor cars will also help reduce traffic congestion and inspire new riders to get onboard.”
With no emissions, the light rail cars also help cut greenhouse gases and reduce air pollution. That’s a plus for communities in the Sacramento region; commuting is made easier while also helping the environment.
“Our region needs good news amid this COVID-19 crisis,” said Sacramento Mayor Darrell Steinberg. “This investment by SacRT in modernized infrastructure to serve our economy and meet our carbon neutral goals is most welcome.”
For more details and routes, visit www.SacRT.com.