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MARTA wants to swap entire train fleet for street-ready cars by 2026

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Those standard tin cans apparently won’t cut it much longer

MARTA’s next progressive move could be to begin the process of swapping out its entire fleet of train cars for more versatile vehicles that can traverse city streets and other nontraditional routes.

The transit agency wants to retire all of its aging train cars by 2026 and incorporate a new fleet that can double as streetcars and travel freight rails, which could be key for branching the system into Clayton County, according to a Saporta Report article that cites bid solicitations due by the end of this month.

Each of MARTA’s 216 train cars is more than 30-years old and nearing full life expectancy despite undergoing overhauls within roughly the last decade, the website reports.

Vendors who respond to bids are asked to also provide info on how best to extend the life of the existing fleet until the shiny new replacements arrive. The new cars, hypothetically, will be able to run on an electrified third rail in tracks and via an overhead wire similar to the existing streetcar system.

It’s not the first out-of-the-box news to come from the MARTA front this summer.

MARTA rolled out a double-decker, 14-foot-tall bus as part of a six-week trial program last month that could help ease congestion on some of the system’s busiest routes. The bus debuted in Clayton County (where low bridges wouldn’t get in the way), and other routes were expected to pop up during the trial.

And earlier this summer, MARTA deployed double-long, articulated buses on busy routes that officials hope will be another high-capacity solution and ridership booster.