SFMTA will roll out a new fleet of Muni trains next year.

Read on to find out what the new vehicles will look like and what features they’ll include. Hopefully they’ll enable SFMTA to provide better public transit service to residents and commuters across San Francisco.

New Muni Trains a “Big Deal”

Did you hear that SFMTA will begin employing a new fleet of Muni trains in 2017?

According to SFMTA, it’s a “big deal,” adding that “these vehicles will go a long way toward providing more reliable Muni Metro service and needed capacity for riders, not to mention bringing some neat new features.”

SFMTA has hired Siemens Industry Inc. to manufacture the new Muni trains — also called light-rail vehicles or LRVs for short — at its 60-acre factory in Sacramento.

A Look at the New Muni Trains

New Muni trains: Inside the Vehicle

Image credit: Jessica Christian/S.F. Examiner

On August 29, San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee, Supervisor London Breed, and Assemblymember David Chiu, along with members of the press, toured Siemens’ facility to see the first new Muni train in person.

As Joe Fitzgerald Rodriguez, a reporter for the San Francisco Examiner, described the scene:

“Like a model train fresh from the box, the plastic wrap protecting the floor of the first of San Francisco’s new Muni trains has yet to be broken. And, yes, it has that new train smell.”

Features of the New Muni Trains

When designing the new trains, SFMTA solicited input from Muni operations, maintenance and accessibility teams, as well as feedback from more than 8,000 Muni riders.

After considering all of the feedback, the SFMTA Board of Directors approved a set of six features for the new Muni trains at its August 2016 meeting.

Here are the details, as described by SFMTA in a recent press release:

Front steps raise independently

To allow customers to access handicap-accessible platforms at street-level stops, Muni operators must raise all steps on the right side of the current trains.

With this new feature, operators will be able to raise only the front steps necessary for platform access, reducing wear on the other steps.

Line color on destination signs

On the trains’ digital destination signs, a block of color will display around the letter for each Metro line (J, K, L, M, N or T) to help riders distinguish the train’s line more easily.

Technical tweaks to integrate new and old systems

The brains inside these trains are being customized to ensure they work seamlessly with Muni’s current and upcoming systems for radio communications, location-based monitoring and automatic train control in the subway.

Easier train settings

When operators pull trains out of the yard into service, they must program the console on each end of the front train car so it can be identified by the subway’s automatic train control system.

That routine will be a lot faster and easier, as operators will be able to reprogram train cars from just one console.

Radio chargers

Each operator cab will feature a charger for Muni’s next generation of handheld radios to make sure communication goes uninterrupted.

Next-level software to diagnose mechanical issues

Our train mechanics work hard to keep Muni’s Metro system running.

We’ve upgraded the trains to include Siemens Expert Diagnostic Software to give our maintenance teams the modern tools they need to troubleshoot complex issues and track patterns.

Funding and Timeline

Earlier this month, the California State Transportation Agency (CalSTA) awarded SFMTA a grant of $45 million in cap-and-trade funds.

With these funds, along with a grant of $41 million the agency received last year, SFMTA now has the financial resources necessary to replace its current fleet of 151 trains. It also has sufficient funds to cover 42 of 64 vehicles that it plans to add to its fleet.

According to John Haley, director of transit at SFMTA, despite some manufacturing delays, the first 24 new Muni trains will begin “rolling down the tracks in time for the launch window, which is late 2017.”

The remainder of the 200+ new trains will be rolled out in phases through 2028.

Concluding Thoughts

Here are some concluding thoughts from SFMTA regarding the new Muni trains:

“For a Metro fleet that will move hundreds of thousands of San Franciscans every day for about 25 years, we knew we had to get the details right.

“Our investment in these upgrades will help ensure this generation of trains mean fewer headaches for Muni’s customers and caretakers. It’s a sign of a commitment from us and our partners to helping Muni reach its full potential.”


Feature image credit