UTA removing single-level Comet cars from FrontRunner trains

The 50-year-old, single-level Comet cars will be removed from FrontRunner trains beginning April 18. Photo: Utah Transit Authority

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah, April 12, 2022 (Gephardt Daily) — FrontRunner is saying goodbye to its 50-year-old Comet cars to cut costs and improve reliability of the commuter rail service, the Utah Transit Authority announced Tuesday.

The single-level Comet cars “have exceeded their standard lifespan” and will be removed from FrontRunner trains beginning April 18, according a news release from UTA.

“It is becoming more difficult and costly to maintain the cars and replace worn or broken parts, which are nearly impossible to find,” the news release states. “The challenges of keeping the cars in good and safe operating condition for our riders necessitate their removal.”

UTA estimates a savings of $600,000 to $800,000 per year on fuel and maintenance costs by removing the Comet cars.

Transit officials also predict “improved reliability on FrontRunner,” with “fewer delays due to maintenance problems with the Comet cars,” the release states. The trains’ acceleration and deceleration also will improve due to the reduced weight, according to UTA.

With FrontRunner’s current four-car configuration, the Comet cars provide 25% of the seating capacity, according to UTA. However, the percentage of riders using the Comet cars is consistently in the single digits, the release states.

During Free Fare February, fewer than 6% of riders used the Comet cars, with the overwhelming majority opting for the multi-level cars, according to UTA.

Transit officials are working with elected leaders and partner agencies to modernize and make additional service improvements on FrontRunner. Removing the Comet cars is a “first step” in preparing for the future of FrontRunner service, according to UTA.

UTA will keep the Comet cars available in case they’re needed before additional commuter rail cars are acquired, the release states. The cars also could be used to provide increased capacity for large community events or unexpected spikes in ridership, according to UTA.

For those who’ll miss the single-level cars, train hosts will be giving out Comet car stickers this week while supplies last.


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