SacRT Awarded $84 Million for New Light Rail Trains and Double Tracking to Folsom

April 27, 2018 RT News

April 26, 2018 – The Sacramento Regional Transit District (SacRT) is one step closer to becoming a world-class transit system. Today the transit agency learned it will be the recipient of two grants worth over $84 million. The two state grant awards will help to purchase 20 new low-floor light rail vehicles to replace others that are more than 30 years old.

The largest of the two grants came from the State of California’s Transit and Intercity Rail Capital Improvement Program (TIRCP) for a total of $64 million to implement the first phase of a rail modernization program.  The grant funding will also be used to modify several light rail stations to accommodate the low-floor style of the new light rail vehicles, which are easier to navigate for people with disabilities as well as for those with bicycles, strollers and luggage.

“This is incredible news,” said SacRT General Manager/CEO Henry Li. “Our team has been working diligently to secure competitive grant funding to help replace our aging fleet of light rail trains. This funding is just the beginning of our rail modernization effort, and we are highly encouraged by this initial success.”

The TIRCP grant award will require SacRT to implement three express routes from Folsom to downtown Sacramento during peak commute hours. The goal will be to decrease commute times in an effort to attract additional ridership on the Gold Line, thereby reducing congestion on local freeways.

Efforts to modernize the rail fleet will save SacRT money in high maintenance and repair costs that are associated with keeping light rail cars in service past their 30-year useful life. It’s anticipated that the new low-floor vehicles will be in service by spring 2021, due to the time it takes to build a light rail train.

“We anticipate these new light rail vehicles will dramatically increase the reliability of our service,” said Sacramento County Supervisor and SacRT Board Chair Patrick Kennedy. “This is just another example of the leadership team at SacRT guiding us towards a state-of-the-art transit system where service is exceptional and valued by the public and business community.

The grant award also sets aside $250,000 for SacRT to work with the California State Transportation Agency (CalSTA) on networking integration opportunities, including development of improved connections to other rail and transit services.

The second grant award of $20.3 million comes from the 2018 Solutions for Congested Corridors Program and paves the way for double tracking on the Gold Line, a project that will allow increased frequency of light rail service to Folsom.  SacRT partnered with Caltrans and the Sacramento Area Council of Governments (SACOG) to apply for the discretionary grant funding.

“This is a terrific example of what can happen when we collaborate on a shared vision,” said SACOG Chief Executive Officer James Corless. “We look forward to future opportunities with SacRT to progress innovative mobility solutions.”

“It’s vital we continue to seek out discretionary funding opportunities like these two grants,” said SACOG Chair and SacRT Director Jay Schenirer. “ We are fortunate to have strong leadership, dedicated to reducing greenhouse gas emissions and traffic congestion in the Sacramento region, while improving transit for everyone.”

The double tracking project will occur between Sunrise Station and the Historic Folsom Station. The single tracking that is currently in place restricts light rail trains to 30 minute service frequencies, but double tracking will allow for 15 minute service. The project also calls for signal improvements.

“Folsom residents have waited a long time to see 15 minute service between Sunrise and the Historic Folsom light rail stations, and to finally have dedicated funding for double tracking is tremendous news,” said SacRT Board Director and City of Folsom Councilmember Andy Morin. “We’re also pleased to hear the rail modernization program will include funding for traffic signal sequencing, which will ease congestion around the Gold Line in Folsom.”

The California Transportation Commission is slated to formally adopt the Congested Corridor Program award recommendations at its May 16-17 meeting. SacRT’s funding is scheduled for release in Fiscal Year 2019, which means the double tracking project could be complete by summer 2021.

SacRT intends to add an additional $60 million in local matching funds over a 10 year period, bringing the total cost for both projects to $144 million.  These state programs saw a multi-million dollar boost in funding levels due to the recent passage of SB1.