SACRAMENTO (CBS13) — Sacramento Regional Transit is modernizing its transportation system with 28 new low-floor light rail cars.

SacRT secured $400 million in federal funding to go toward building the upgraded fleet.

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Henry Lee, the president of SacRT, showed off the shell of what will become the region’s very first “low-floor” light rail car. It’s called low-floor because the doors open at ground level, making it more accessible for passengers with disabilities, bikes and strollers.

“If you use a wheelchair, it will be easier to get into that,” Lee said next to one of the new rail car frames.

Siemens Mobility in Sacramento will build the new emission-free vehicles. But with SacRT ridership down 50 % compared to pre-pandemic numbers, we asked if this is a good time for such a big investment.

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“Prior to pandemic, we actually increased our ridership by 7 percent, which is way better than industry average,” Lee said.

Lee expects that trend to continue. He says the new cars will be used to serve current routes and planned expansions to the airport and into Elk Grove.

Lee also says the new investment will create more jobs.

Congresswoman Doris Matsui — one of many local leaders — got a closer look at the manufacturing process and called the new vehicles an investment in the future.

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“What we’re doing is we’re refocusing our country on the fact that we can’t rely on fossil fuel forever,” Matsui said.

Adrienne Moore