The Chicago Transit Authority is set to receive $200 million from the federal government to replace aging rail cars. The money will cover at least 300 new “electric propulsion” passenger rail cars to replace ones that have been in service since the 1980s.
These are matching grants, meaning the CTA will have to put up at least $200 million to cover the cost of the replacements.
”Like many older transit systems, the CTA must regularly invest in modernizing its fleet to replace aging vehicles that are beyond their useful life,” said CTA President Dorval R. Carter, Jr. in an emailed statement. “CTA now has funding needed to begin planning and designing for the future procurement of our next-generation of railcars, which will provide our riders with safer and more reliable rail services, as well as improved technologies to make public transit a more convenient and accessible travel option.”
A total of $703 million will be allocated in this first round for rail car replacement to improve “safety, service, and the customer experience on subways, commuter rail, and light rail systems,” according to a press release from the U.S. Department of Transportation.
Federal transportation officials have budgeted $1.5 billion toward rail car replacement nationwide, noting many of the older models aren’t in compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), make traveling with a stroller difficult and frequently break down.
This is the latest in a series of federal grants to help the CTA as it struggles to grow ridership back to pre-pandemic levels. Earlier this year, federal transit officials committed $350 million toward extending the Red Line south. Chicago was also one of a handful of recipients to receive federal money to make some of its stations ADA compliant. Still, passenger sentiment remains weary with complaints of crime, grime and trains that fail to run on time.
This grant is one of six that federal transportation officials are allocating to transit agencies across the country as part of President Joe Biden’s Bipartisan Infrastructure Law. Cleveland, Sacramento, Salt Lake City, St. Louis and South Florida also will receive grants to replace older rail cars.
Claudia Morell is a metro reporter covering government and transit issues for WBEZ.