Hey, somebody write this down: this week, Mayor Ed Lee is riding Muni not once, but twice! First, he took the M-Ocean on Tuesday, to, he told the Chron, "try to experience it with everybody else." And this morning he'll be taking Muni Metro again, but this time his ride comes with a $648 million price tag.
As we mentioned back in July, the SFMTA Board agreed to make an unprecedentedly-huge purchase of new light rail vehicles intended to boost the fleet and reduce breakdowns. How unprecedentedly-huge? $1.18 billion in total, for a purchase of 260 cars.
So last week, the Board of Supes OKed the initial contract with transit company Siemens, to the tune of $648 million for 175 Muni Metro vehicles to be manufactured in their Sacramento plant. Today the Mayor will sign off on the plan...and will take a little ride in the process.
According to a press release sent by the mayor's office, the Mayor and the SFMTA will this morning operate a "test train that will take first diagnostic measurements of rails to inform Siemens’ manufacturing of new Light Rail Vehicles." Assuming that things go smoothly (heh), the mayor will will also sign the resolution on the purchase and contract at that time.
At the event, which is at 11 a.m. on Muni's "pocket trackway" on The Embarcadero between Howard and Mission Streets, attendees "will be briefed on the types of testing that Siemens will be undertaking over the next few months to carefully measure the minute details of the current track environment."
Then. one of Muni's old LRVs will "be equipped with special measuring, tracking and monitoring devices as it takes the first measurements," with the mayor onboard. Will this fulfill the city's expectation that the mayor and other top city officials ride Muni twice a week? I'm not so sure about that, especially since he won't be fumbling for that extra quarter to take this ride.
According to the mayor's office, "the data retrieved from this testing will help Siemens to more accurately design its vehicular dimensions and adapt its world-class light rail technology for the unique characteristics of San Francisco’s curvy and hilly streets." Hey, maybe while they're at it, they can find some technological solution to how the mayor's car keeps ending up parked in Muni stops and crosswalks!