BART has run into hangups with its new fleet of trains that may delay the transit agency’s rollout until after Thanksgiving. But in more immediate San Francisco news, Muni announced Thursday that the first of its own freshly minted replacement coaches will spring into action any day now.
Spokesperson Kristen Holland notes, “The latest milestone for the new Muni light rail vehicles has been passed. The first of Muni's newest trains has been cleared for service and could start as early as next week.”
Muni says that eventually it will deploy all 215 of the new cars, upping its overall train fleet by 64 vehicles altogether.
But for now they’ve got just the one.
“We are looking forward to receiving the next five to six cars in a few months and the first 24 vehicles by the end of 2018,” says Holland, adding, “Each vehicle has to be cleared and subsequent multi-car configurations (two-car and three-car) must also be approved separately.”
Riders have been waiting to climb aboard the inaugural coach for some time, as it first arrived to much fanfare in January. At the time the plan was to have it in action by summer, but delay is the name of the game when breaking in new technology.
(The January arrival was even itself technically late, the original target being December.)
Muni has been stuck using the old, lumbering Breda-built trains since 1996. The Italian-made vehicles weigh nearly 80,000 pounds each, which is rough on both the streets and the rails of San Francisco.
The new cars, built in Sacramento, are some 4,000 pounds lighter, which will hopefully crunch less asphalt over the coming decades. Muni also promises they’ll be quieter and make for a smoother ride—note the hydraulic hum of the new car being tested in June.
But of course, the real proof of will be in the eventual boarding.