Muni to upgrade light rail vehicles

Transit agency plans on spending $56 million to improve doors, steps
By Will Reisman
Examiner Staff Writer

Transit riders will soon have an easier time getting on and off Muni’s light-rail vehicles.

The transit agency plans on spending $56 million during the next five years for rehabilitation work on their 143 Italian-built Breda trains that will include improving the doors and steps. The light-rail vehicles have been in use since 1997 without the benefit of any major rehabilitation work, according to agency officials.

The improvements are part of a larger overall plan to improve Muni’s stock of vehicles. Earlier this year, the department identified $663 million in necessary repairs to get their fleet completely up to standards.

The money for the improvements to the Breda trains will come from state bonds and federal grants, including $15 million from the federal stimulus package, according to Muni spokesman Judson True. The rehabbing project is part of basic maintenance of the trains, and the improvements of the doors and steps were not driven by any safety concerns, True said.

Along with upgrading the doors and steps of the Bredas, Muni has long-term plans for various improvements on the light-rail fleet, including replacing motor bearings and pins, rehabbing train couplers and investing in new traffic control technology.

The spiffed-up Bredas will help Muni improve on-time performance rates, according to officials with the transit agency. Muni light-rail vehicles recorded an on-time performance rate of 70.9 percent last fiscal year, far below the department goal of 85 percent.

“This work is crucial to vehicle reliability, which is in turn key to providing on-time service,” True said.

Muni’s board of directors is expected to authorize the $56 million allocation for the Breda repairs at today’s meeting. To receive the federal stimulus funding, Muni must have an agreement finalized for the work by Nov. 30.

The contract will be with the manufacturer of the trains, AnsaldoBreda Inc.

wreisman@sfexaminer.com

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