New Muni trains on schedule for 2017 rollout

New Muni trains are still on course to roll onto San Francisco rail tracks in 2017.

The San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency gave an update Tuesday as to where transit agency is currently at in the process of completing and building its $1.2 billion light-rail vehicles called the LRV4.

Director of Transit John Haley told the SFMTA Board of Directors that new vehicles are expected to arrive this year and be on the streets the following year. He said the new vehicles would expand Muni’s fleet of LRV’s by 24 new trains by 2018 and another 40 trains by 2020.

Haley said the transit agency is in its final design phase and ensuring key components like doors, steps propulsion, hearing and air conditioning meet the specifications the transit agency had sought out from Siemens, who is building the new trains at its plant in Sacramento.

The transit agency also made sure that the new vehicle would meet strict weight guidelines. Haley said the new 78,000 pound vehicles weigh 2,000 pounds less that the current Breda light-rail vehicles. Haley said the lighter vehicle will help with the noise and vibrations.

Vehicles will go through at least 600 individual performance tests to make sure they are tip-top shape, said Haley.

When the vehicles finally do hit San Francisco streets, the transit agency is looking into introducing longer trains and express trains as well as a stop-skip feature that would program trains to go to certain stations to pick-up riders who may not have been able to get onto an earlier train because of overcrowding, said Haley:

“By enabling and using effectively using the skip-stop feature, we can send the train direct, send every third or second train directly to Castro and allow the folks to get on in the interior stations to have some room and move the system along.”

Board Director Malcolm Heinicke said riders were unable to board at the Castro and Church stations during his Tuesday morning subway ride because the trains were too crowded. He said the possibility of three-car trains wlll help alleviate some of overcrowding:

“This is exciting stuff. I think stuff that can really change the way the system interacts with the customers on a daily basis.”