On Monday, UTA began auctioning the 50-year-old Comet cars. The highest bidder at the end of the auction window on Nov. 1 will take home a piece of FrontRunner history.
Earlier this year, the FrontRunner Comet cars were removed from regular service and placed into reserve, being used only for large community events or unexpected spikes in FrontRunner riders. UTA says keeping the trains has become “too great of a logistical and financial burden” to continue maintaining the trains and keeping them prepared for operation.
This is due to many parts for the Comet cars becoming obsolete and no longer being manufactured after 2009. Additionally, UTA said the railcars had frequent mechanical and reliability issues.
UTA said they are not allowed to donate the railcars due to federal funding used to refurbish and transport the cars. Should UTA donate the railcars, it would reportedly be unable to apply for federal grants to purchase future railcars.
UTA doesn’t have any concerns regarding ridership, saying “UTA has been closely monitoring ridership levels in preparation for auctioning off the Comet cars. Current ridership on FrontRunner can be accommodated with three-car FrontRunner trains, and there is room for ridership growth before replacement vehicles are needed.”
Options for replacement vehicles are currently being evaluated, but according to UTA, there hasn’t been a decision made as of yet.
In the meantime, anyone interested in placing a bid on one of the 25 FrontRunner cars up for auction can do so by visiting the auction website.