SALT LAKE CITY -- The Utah Transit Authority is holding on to all of its FrontRunner locomotives, even though some of them are sitting in a garage.
With several suitors wanting to purchase some of its surplus FrontRunner engines, UTA is passing up an opportunity to make some quick cash and holding on to its entire fleet.
When the first line of commuter rail, dubbed FrontRunner North, opened from Pleasant View to Salt Lake City in 2008, UTA purchased 11 locomotives from Boise-based MotivePower. Shortly after, UTA purchased another 10.
The entire investment cost UTA $30 million.
But shortly after the line opened, the economy tanked and FrontRunner ridership wasn't what UTA first estimated it to be, so some of the locomotives were put in storage.
"We originally bought locomotives for both the north and south projects," said UTA spokesman Chad Saley. "But as the economy started to drop, we reassessed what we really needed for our system."
That reassessment led to the sale of two locomotives to the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority and one to the Minneapolis-St. Paul NorthStar commuter rail system.
UTA sold the locomotives for $3.5 million each.
According to UTA, several out-of-state agencies have continued to make inquiries about its seven surplus engines, but the agency is standing pat.
UTA's operating plan states the remaining engines will be used when FrontRunner South -- running from Salt Lake City to Provo -- opens in 2014.
The remaining engines can also be used on FrontRunner North if ridership picks up or if any of the operating engines face mechanical problems.
"We always have at least one in reserve (in the event of a mechanical problem)," Saley said.
UTA's current FrontRunner operational fleet consists of 11 locomotives, 12 bilevel Bombardier cabs, eight bilevel Bombardier coaches, and 25 Comet coaches, which were manufactured in the early 1970s and used in New Jersey before being refurbished and entering service in Utah.