Posts Tagged ‘Public transit’

Waiting to Return to Downtown Cleveland

May 31, 2023

It is the late 1960s or early 1970s in Cleveland. Shaker Heights Rapid Transit car 72 and other PCC cars are sitting inside the Van Aken loop in Shaker Heights. Soon these cars will be called for rush hour service to downtown Cleveland. Today this is the Blue Line of Greater Cleveland Regional Transit Authority.

Photograph by Robert Farkas.

Cleveland RTA Wins Grant for New Rail Cars

May 7, 2023

Plans by Greater Cleveland Regional Transit Authority to replace aging rail cars received a boost last week when the Federal Transit Administration awarded a grant to the agency.

The FTA awarded Cleveland RTA and five other transit agencies grants for rail vehicle replacement.

The funding is coming from the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, approved by Congress in 2021.

An FTA news release said Cleveland RTA will $130 million to buy 60 new cars that will be capable of operating on all of RTA’s rail lines.

RTA had earlier said it plans to buy the cars from Siemens Mobility.

Also receiving grants were transit agencies in Miami; St. Louis; Chicago;, Sacramento, California; and Salt Lake City.

RTA Board OKs Contract for 24 New Railcars

April 20, 2023

The governing board of the Greater Cleveland Regional Transit Authority this week approved moving ahead with the purchase of 24 new railcars.

The board agreed to award a $164 million contract to Siemens Mobility for the purchase of the Model S200 railcars with an option to purchase up to 60 cars in the future.

The 52-seat cars will be modeled after a similar car type used by a transit agency in Calgary, Alberta.

RTA is hoping up to 60 new cars to its fleet over a seven-year period.

The new cars will be ADA accessible and come with two two wheelchair-accessible seats and capacity for four bicycles per car.

They will have high floors and plastic seating. The current cars used by RTA have 72 fabric seats per car.

The age of the existing fleet ranges from 39 to 42 years. RTA officials have said those cars have become prone to rust and corrosion.

The cost of replacing all of RTA’s railcars has been put at $393 million, which includes the cost of the cars, infrastructure and railroad changes, and spare parts.

Transit Station Escalators Being Replaced in Pittsburgh

April 19, 2023

Nine escalators are being replaced at three downtown stations on the light rail lines of Pittsburgh Regional Transit.

The agency said work on the $13.5 million project will begin on April 24.

Three of three of four escalators will be replaced at Steel Plaza Station followed by the replacement of  escalators at Wood Street Station in fall, First Avenue Station in early 2024 and Steel Plaza Station in summer 2024.

In a news release, agency officials said the escalators will be out of service while work is being completed.

Cleveland RTA Eyes 24 New Cars for Red Line

April 6, 2023

An artist conception of the proposed new rail cars for Cleveland RTA rail lines.

If it can find the money to buy them, Greater Cleveland Regional Transit Authority is leaning toward purchasing 24 new rail transit cars from Siemens Mobility.

The Cleveland RTA governing board heard a report this week about plans to buy up t o 60 high floor car over a seven-year period. The projected cost of that is $393 million.

Although the RTA board voted to move ahead on spending $164 million to purchase 24 cars, it acknowledged it is $7 million short of being able to cover that cost with its existing funds.

The initial 24-car order would be assigned to the Red Line between Cleveland Hopkins Airport and East Cleveland via downtown Cleveland.

The new cars would be ADA accessible, including two wheelchair-accessible seats. Capacity of the cars would be 52 seats and space for four bicycles.

Other features of the new cars include plastic seats, heated windshields, and ice cutting technology.

What was presented to the RTA board this week was a concept. The actual design of the rail cars will be done over a 15-month period once the agency signs a contract with Siemens.

The new cars would replace 69 of the agency’s existing cars.

The new cars, though, would come with fewer seats than the existing cars, which can seat 84. RTA officials said the loss of seating will be offset somewhat by having more standing room.

In a statement, RTA General Manager and Chief Executive Officer India Birdsong Terry said the Siemens Model S200 cars would come with lower maintenance cost, provide more flexibility in their operation and improve the passenger riding experience.

RTA Chief Operating Officer Floun’say Caver said the new cars would provide increased rail route flexibility by making possible trips the current infrastructure cannot support.

He cited as an example having a one seat ride from Hopkins Airport to the Green Road Station in Shaker Heights.

Currently, making that trip requires a change of trains at Tower City Station in downtown Cleveland.

The existing RTA rail car fleet  is of two different models with one model confined to the Red Line and the other model confined to the Blue, Green and Waterfront lines.

Caver said that although the current fleet of RTA rail  cars is safe to operate, they are prone to rust and corrosion.

The agency conducted a study that concluded it was more cost effective to replace those cars than continue to repair them.

The car replacement process has been four years in the making and suffered a setback in 2021 when vendor response to an RTA request for proposals proved to be inadequate.

The RTA board plans to discuss the rail car replacement program at an April 10 committee meeting with the full board expected to consider the plan on April 18.

As for funding of the new rail cars, officials told the board that RTA has $157 million on hand with another $67 million committed to the project that will become available over the next several years.

RTA hopes to land a $130 grant from funds provided by the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act. Grants from that pot of money. Those grant winners are expected to be named next month.

If RTA fails to win that grant or receives less than the $130 million it is seeking, officials said the rail replacement project will need to be scaled back.

SEPTA Pauses Expansion of Norristown Line

March 19, 2023

Work on extending the Norristown High Speed Line in Philadelphia has come to a screeching halt due to lack of funding.

The Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority said the four-mile extension to King of Prussia, Pennsylvania, is being paused after the Federal Transit Administration declined to approve a grant for the project.

A SEPTA news release also cited rising costs due to inflation and high interest rates as other factors that led to the project being halted.

In declining to provide a grant for the project the FTA said it had concerns over whether SEPTA would be able to come up with its share of the project costs.

That included covering cost overruns for the project, which has ballooned from an estimated $2.08 billion in August 2020 to $3.02 billion today.

“SEPTA’s capital budget has been underfunded for decades,” SEPTA CEO Leslie S. Richards said in a statement. “This has left the Authority with significantly fewer resources than peer agencies to pursue system expansion while also addressing critical infrastructure needs. With the funding we have currently, SEPTA must prioritize essential infrastructure work and safety and security improvements to maximize the reliability and effectiveness of our aging system.”

SEPTA said it has spent about $53 million so far on the project since 2012.

SEPTA Rail Contract Being Reviewed

February 28, 2023

The Inspector General of the U.S. Department of Transportation has launched an investigation into the procurement of new rail cars by the Southeast Pennsylvania Department of Transportation.

SEPTA awarded a $138 million contract to China Railway Rolling Stock Corporation to build 45 rail cars.

The OIG audit will review whether the contract violates the Federal Transit Authority’s Buy America requirements for the acquisition of rolling stock.

In a news release, the USDOT OIG said the audit will examine FTA’s oversight of SEPTA’s certification of CRRC’s adherence to Buy America requirements, and SEPTA’s calculation of the total value of foreign components. The audit is expected to begin in the coming weeks.

Alstom Gets Contract to Build SEPTA Trolleys

February 25, 2023

A Philadelphia public transit agency plans to buy modern trolley cars that will be fully accessible.

The Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority awarded a $714 million contract to Alstom Transportation for the new cars, which the agency said would comply with standards of the Americans with Disabilities Act.

Alstom will build 130 cars with an option for 30 additional vehicles. Delivery of the new trolleys is scheduled to begin in 2027 with full fleet delivery by the end of 2030.

In a news release, SEPTA said the new cars will be longer and have a higher capacity than existing cars.

The new cars will have low floors and ramps, wider pathways, audio and visual messaging systems, and designated open space for wheelchairs, walkers, strollers and bikes.

1 Hurt in SEPTA Derailment

February 7, 2023

One woman was taken to a hospital after a Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority rapid-transit train derailed Saturday night.

The derailment occurred just before midnight on the Market-Frankford line, SEPTA’s most used transit route.

Although SEPTA said the cause of the derailment remained under investigation, a broken rail discovered during track work after the derailment may have been the cause.

The derailment occurred just before midnight and involved a train carrying 100 passengers.

It occurred between the 2nd Street and Spring Garden stations. The third car of the six-car trainset jumped the rails.

The line is normally closed for maintenance between 1 a.m. and 5 a.m. However, service wasn’t restored until 10 a.m. on Sunday.

The woman taken to a hospital reported having knee pain. There were no other injuries.

3 Transit Systems to Get Federal Station Improvement Grants

December 20, 2022

Public transit systems in Cleveland, Pittsburgh and Philadelphia are among the recipients of grants from the Federal Transit Administration to be used to modernize stations and improve their accessibility.

The agencies are sharing in $686 million being awarded to 15 projects. The grant funding is coming from the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act.

Greater Cleveland Transit Authority will receive $8 million to rebuild its East 79th Street rapid station to make it more accessible.

The 1920s era station will receive new ramps, concrete platforms, rail crossings, warning panels, canopy-covered concrete stairs, upgraded emergency call boxes, and slip-resistant walking surfaces.

Pittsburgh Regional Transit will receive $24.4 million to make the Bethel Village, Westfield, St. Anne’s, and Shiras stations on the Red Line ADA accessible. Station improvements will include installing a high platform for level boarding, shelters on the boarding platform, ramps, accessible signage and auditory support.

The Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority will receive $56 million to make its 11th Street subway station on the Market-Frankford Subway Line and the Chinatown, Erie, Fairmount Upper Level, Fairmount Lower Level and Snyder stations on the Broad Street Subway Line accessible.

The stations were built in the early 20th century. Work will include installing elevators, general station upgrades, ramps, and making path of travel improvements.