MARTA commits to buying 254 new rail cars at cost of $646 million

A rendering of one of the new MARTA rail cars.

MARTA’s board of directors have approved a $646 million agreement with Stadler Rail for the purchase of 254 new rail cars. The agreement also contains options for MARTA to order up to 100 additional rail cars.

The rail cars are scheduled to be delivered between 2023 and 2028, with the delivery of a pilot car in 2022.

The 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 customer engagement process to determine riders’ functionality needs and preferences. Customer input will support the customization of the rail car design.

As the MARTA system grew between 1979 and 2000, MARTA had procured rail cars three times previously – in 1979, 1985 and 2003. The Stadler procurement, however, will mark the first time that previously purchased cars will be retired.

“We have consistently exceeded our on-time performance target goal of 95 percent, but we know that the age of our current fleet contributes heavily to the delays we experience,” said MARTA CEO Jeffrey Parker. “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. 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.”

The interior of the new cars will have wider aisles and more room for wheelchairs and luggage.
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