After cutting off night and weekend service for a month this summer in order to complete testing in the Muni underground system, the SFMTA has announced that they're expecting to put some of their new light-rail Muni Metro trains into service very soon after filing paperwork with the California Public Utilities Commission later this month. As Hoodline reports, once the CPUC gets their paperwork, the commission then has 21 days to approve and finalize the implementation plans for the new trains. Deputy spokesperson for the SFMTA Erica Kato told Hoodline, "We anticipate to have trains out by the end of the year, which was always the goal." According to the original announcement, SFMTA expects that the full fleet will be replaced by 2028, with the older Breda trains being incrementally changed out, starting this year.
The new fleet is being manufactured by German train-maker Siemens, at an assembly plant in Sacramento. As we learned last year, the entire new fleet of 260 cars is expected to cost $1.2 billion. And this is happening ahead of the expected retirement age of the Breda cars, which first went into service in 1996, and which have a sunsetting timeframe of around 2021.
What will you have to look forward to in the new cars? Well, benches, for starters. We explored how the new trains have bench seating running all along their length, as opposed to the row-like seating we have now, as an SFMTA design study found that it increased passenger capacity — albeit by, like, two people overall.
How many trains will Muni be putting into service this year? Just a small handful, and they're only scheduled to have 24 of these new trains in the system by the end of 2018, as we learned in January when one of the first trains arrived here for testing.
Meanwhile, BART has its own issues in getting right with the CPUC, as we shared earlier this month. They're still working on getting all their paperwork on their new trains in to the commission, and once they do, they're also be subject to the same 21-day waiting period as Muni. BART expects two of their full trains (two ten-car trains) will start gliding on city tracks sometime before the end of the year.