If you’re superstitious, it might be good luck or bad, but either way — it’s coming.
On Jan. 13, which happens to be Friday the 13th, Muni’s first train from its fleet of the future will arrive.
“We just couldn’t be more pleased it’s arriving,” said Ed Reiskin, San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency’s director of transportation, in a report to the SFMTA Board of Directors.
He announced the train’s arrival to the board Tuesday, and emphasized the new train will be a more “comfortable ride for everybody.”
SEE RELATED: Muni’s new future fleet debuts on the factory floor
It’s the first of 24 light rail vehicles to arrive through the end of 2018, Reiskin said. The next 40 vehicles will arrive on a rolling basis through 2020. Reiskin said the ultimate purchase of 260 light rail vehicles may be one of the largest purchases of light rail vehicles in North America in modern history, and will increase Muni’s light rail vehicle fleet by 50 percent.
“It won’t be in service right away, and it will need to go through rigorous testing before it is put in service,” Reiskin told the board.
But once they are put in service, the San Francisco riding public will get a glimpse at Muni’s future. The trains, built by Siemens, will come equipped with bells and whistles that today’s N-Judah, L-Taraval, J-Church, K-Ingleside M-Oceanview and T-Third do not enjoy.
In August 2016, the San Francisco Examiner took a tour of one of the new train cars on the factory floor in Sacramento.
As the Examiner reported, the seats are still fiberglass, but the individual seats, lined in a row, have been replaced by benches. Bright red, the surface has a slight texture, which was added for “grip,” according to Siemens’ designers.
The box of sand has moved, too. Well-known to riders of the N-Judah train, the sand is dropped to create friction while the train brakes. Now, instead of sitting underneath the seats, the sand box is hidden beneath a panel containing buttons to release seats for wheelchair access.
And perhaps the brightest new feature is LED signage within the streetcar, so riders always know what train they’re on.
All told, said John Haley, SFMTA’s director of transit, there are more than 50 discrete design improvements throughout the trains, the result of months of public surveys.