It’s finally here!
San Francisco’s first new Muni light rail vehicle arrived Friday morning at 1 a.m. on a flatbed truck into the Muni Metro East Rail facility in the Dogpatch neighborhood.
Siemens Industry, Inc. is manufacturing the new Muni light rail vehicles at its plant in Sacramento, so the first new train did not have to travel far.
The first 24 new trains will arrive over the next 24 months with another 40 trains arriving two years after, according to transit officials. The first 64 trains are expansion trains that will add to the current fleet of 151 trains.
The Board of Directors of the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency and the Board of Supervisors in 2014, approved the $1.2 billion contract with Siemens that not only included replacing the current 151 Breda Muni vehicles, but also purchasing extra vehicles for expansion purposes.
SFMTA’s Director of Transportation Ed Reiskin said:
“For a lot of us here this feels like Christmas. We got a big ol’ new toy that we’re here to celebrate.”
The Muni Metro system is backbone of the transit system carrying an average of more than 100,000 riders during the weekday, said Reiskin.
He said the newer trains are more reliable, safer, easier to maintain and will be a better experience for Muni passengers.
The new train is 75 ft. long and 8-ft. 8-in. wide and weighs 76,000 lbs, according to the transit agency.
Some of the features of the new train include a bench seating style, which will provide more standing room space inside the train.
John Haley, SFMTA’s director of transit, said there much more extra space inside the train, enough to fit eight wheelchairs.
“This a product of public process where the supervisors weighed in, riders weighed in, the public weighed in.”
The destination signage is brighter and more visible outside of the train, said Haley. Passengers will be able to see the destination signage from 200 feet away.
Inside the train, there are full-colored LCD destination screens that not only tell passengers what train they are on, but the signage will also inform passengers of the next transit stop.
The moving parts inside the train such as the doors and steps will be more reliable. Haley said the doors are lighter and have better support compared to the current Breda trains, which have more than 200 moving parts in them.
Haley said the doors and steps on the Breda trains have been the top mechanical issue that have caused delays inside the Muni Metro.
The front door near the operator cab can open independently just for wheelchair passengers. Haley said this new function will help with wear and tear of having to pull all the steps up for a wheelchair passenger to board.
Another difference that Muni passengers and operators will notice is the new operator cab, which now features a curved sliding door for easier access for operators and a larger window for passengers to pay their fare with cash.
President of the Board of Supervisors London Breed said she had been telling her constituents and residents of The City that the trains are coming and that now she has proof:
“We know that San Francisco is growing and we need to get prepared for that and this is the reason why I sponsored the contract to purchase these new trains is because we know as our city grows, as more people are living here, as more people are relying on our public transportation system, we have an obligation as a city to make sure it is one of the best public transportations in the country.”
Breed said she regularly calls Reiskin about subway delays:
“I call director Reiskin on a regular basis because sadly our trains currently are breaking down on a regular basis and that is unacceptable. This is why we needed these trains and we needed these trains now.”
Haley said testing of the new train will conclude sometime in the late summer to early fall. A SFMTA document said testing would last approximately seven months.
SFMTA spokesperson Paul Rose said the train will go through a number of tests including testing the train in The City’s operating environment such as testing the brakes on the hills.
Other tests include testing the propulsion system to set the proper acceleration coupling trains together and stopping a train in water called “fordability,” said Rose.
Haley said the transit agency will eventually test out three-car and four-car trains as well.
Another component that transit officials will test is inside the subway and how the train communicates with the Automatic Train Control System, the system that controls the train inside the subway.
After all the testing complete, the SFMTA will apply for a safety certification with the California Public Utilities Commission, which oversees rail safety in the state.
By the end of 2017, the transit agency expects to have a total of nine trains in its rail facility, said Haley.