Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority (Metro) CEO Phillip Washington and agency executives held a roundtable with international railcar manufacturers and consultants to discuss how transportation innovation can translate to the presence of a passenger rail manufacturing facility in L.A. County.
Among some of the ideas discussed were locating a full-scale facility where passenger railcars could be designed, manufactured, tested, and refurbished, or establishing a universal facility that would provide testing operations such as test tracks, which are in extremely limited supply in the U.S. The effort would also extend to the manufacturing suppliers around the nation. Metro and the firms also talked about a “mobility innovation park” that could be shared by several companies and perhaps focus on a variety of sectors in the transportation industry.
Metro’s Measure M sales tax measure, which was approved overwhelmingly by county voters in 2016, is funding the construction of 40 major transportation projects over the next 40 years. With the 105-mile Metro Rail network expected to roughly double in size, Metro anticipates needing more than 900 new light rail vehicles and 800-plus subway cars to meet its future needs. Metro is also seeking to operate a fully electric-powered bus fleet by 2030. But the concept would serve not only Metro’s needs, but the entire U.S. market.
“The roundtable today was just the beginning of exploring how we can innovate the presence of passenger rail car manufacturing here in LA County,” said Washington. “We’re excited about the possibilities we heard from our colleagues and I am eager to continue the conversation to see how we can think differently about the role passenger rail manufacturing plays in bringing jobs and better mobility to our region.”