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Regulators clear Muni’s first metro train car in future fleet

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Mayor Ed Lee and other San Francisco and SFMTA officials sit inside the new Muni light-rail vehicles during construction at Siemens Mobility in Sacramento on Aug. 29, 2016. (Jessica Christian/2016 S.F. Examiner)
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The inaugural car in Muni’s new fleet received clearance from regulators to hit the tracks Nov. 15.

The California Public Utilities Commission cleared the new train car for rollout in a Friday letter on the condition that three flaws in a recent inspection are remedied
beforehand.

John Haley, who as the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency’s director of transit oversaw the testing of the new cars, said certifying the first train car in their future fleet was likely to be the hardest. An additional five trains may be certified by December, far more quickly than the months-long process for the first new train car in the technologically updated fleet.

Haley said two of the three issues have already been addressed, and the light fixture will be replaced this week.

Those new cars feature benches that sit along the car lengthwise, as opposed to the paired horizontal seats common in today’s vehicles, and feature new digital signage inside the car.

The CPUC dinged the SFMTA in a Thursday inspection of the new car, No. 2006, for electrical issues, improperly sealed headlights and a more than three-inch gap between the new vehicle and Castro Station.

Meanwhile, the SFMTA Board of Directors voted Tuesday at its regular meeting to dedicate the inaugural rail car to Larry Martin, who served as a Muni operator in 1966 and started a community program with local school children to visit Muni yards. Martin died Oct. 16.

Martin “quickly moved up the ranks,” according to the SFMTA, to become international vice president for the Transport Workers Union of America, which represents nearly 140,000 members across airline, railroad, transit, universities, utilities and services industries.

Martin served on the Human Rights, Planning, and Recreation and Parks commissions, and worked alongside many mayors.

According to the SFMTA, Muni superintendents used to say “general managers come and go, mayors come and go, but Larry Martin is always there.”

Correction: An earlier version of this story incorrectly stated the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency was called out by state regulators for malfunctioning doors. In fact, the SFMTA was called out for electrical issues.

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