The Metropolitan Atlanta Rapid Transit Authority’s (MARTA) board approved a $646 million agreement with Stadler Rail for the purchase of 254 new railcars. The agreement also contains options for MARTA to order up to 100 additional railcars.
The procurement, which is the single largest for either organization, is a milestone in MARTA’s capital improvement program aimed at more efficient performance and enhanced customer experience.
“About 65 percent of our delays are due to rail car reliability, and with rail transit being the cornerstone of our business, we aim to change that,” said Jeffrey Parker. “The new fleet will reduce the number of unscheduled repairs associated with MARTA’s aging rail fleet, which ranges between 30 and 40 years old. A better customer experience in turn will increase ridership.”
As the MARTA system grew between 1979 and 2000, MARTA had procured railcars three times previously — in 1979, 1985, and 2003. The Stadler procurement, however, will mark the first time that previously purchased cars will be retired.
Stadler has manufactured trains since 1942. A Switzerland-based manufacturer with U.S. operations in Salt Lake City, the organization is committed to meeting the specific needs of their clients and employing innovative technologies to customize features that improve performance and passenger comfort.
While it is confirmed that each new pair of cars will feature an open gangway design with modernized electronic signage and public address system, more comfortable seating plus handholds and stanchions with better functionality, two wheelchair positions, charging stations, luggage space, and enhanced video surveillance, MARTA is also planning a robust customer engagement process to determine riders’ functionality needs and preferences. Customer input will support the customization of the railcar design.
The new railcars will also interface with other investments aimed at enhancing the customer experience, such as MARTA’s new integrated operations center, new station audio-visual information upgrade, systemwide elevator and escalator upgrade, restroom modernization program, and station rehabilitation program, which will refresh MARTA stations.
The railcars are scheduled to be delivered between 2023 and 2028, with the delivery of a pilot car in 2022.