The first of 64 brand new Muni Metro light-rail trains will arrive in San Francisco on Friday, January 13th. It's not the most auspicious date for a transit system known for its poor luck, but the good news is the train won't be put into service that day it's just arriving from the assembly plant in Sacramento. The new cars, as we learned two years ago when the deal was made, are being manufactured by German company Siemens and constructed at a 60-acre facility to our north, and a total of 24 are expected to be delivered and added to the existing Metro system by the end of 2018, with another 40 getting rolled out through 2020, and a total of 215 currently on order however it's still not totally clear how the city plans to pay for them all.
The Examiner reports via a report to the SFMTA Board of Directors that the first new train will "go through rigorous testing" before it's put into service, and Director of Transportation Ed Reiskin assures us the new train design will be a more "comfortable ride for everybody."
We've been assured that the new trains will be longer, with fewer seats (bench seating only) to make room for more standing, meaning each will have much greater passenger capacity. Also, as the SFMTA has said previously, they will require less maintenance, and have more reliable passenger doors, LED signage inside and out, better visibility from the operator cab, and an enhanced braking system. (The Examiner also notes that the ever familiar boxes of sand on the Breda cars, which help with braking, will no longer be visible within the train cars, but hidden down below.)
While the old Breda cars, put into service 20 years ago, in 1996, tended to go 4,000 to 5,000 miles between needing service, the new Siemens cars are supposed to go 59,000 miles between service appointments.
Transit riders in the Bay Area will be treated also to the first of BART's Fleet of the Future this year, with the first of those new cars having been delivered in April 2016, and testing (hopefully) nearly complete.
It remains unclear when Muni's new trains will begin shuttling their first riders, or how many we may see on the tracks by year's end.