Article by Harvey Glickenstein
At a total of 215 vehicles, the SFMTA contract is Siemens’ largest US light rail order ever. The base contract for US$648 million covers 175 vehicles. Including 85 optional additional vehicles, the total contract is for US$1.2 billion. This order will expand the SFMTA light-rail fleet by more than 70% when all of the vehicles are delivered.
The new vehicles will employ longitudinal seating instead of a mix of longitudinal and front-facing seats as in the existing rolling stock. SFMTA says that the new arrangement will provide the same number of seats as the existing equipment, but the wider aisles will allow for more seats for people with disabilities and space for strollers.
These new light-rail vehicles have been designed to provide significantly fewer door and step malfunctions, currently the single biggest reason for delays, than the existing equipment. They also provide shorter braking distance and improved visibility for the operators.
The new vehicles are more energy efficient than the existing vehicles, with a regenerative braking system and light-emitting diode lighting that uses up to 40% less electricity than standard neon lighting. Seven months of testing have been scheduled before the vehicles enter revenue service in late summer.