This evening I’d planned to take Muni Metro home from work as I often do, but there was an unexpected twist: as I got to the platform level, one of the new trains was pulling in. Finally I’d get to ride one! Unfortunately for me it was going in the opposite direction I was headed, so I only took it one stop just for fun.
Some background: The new trains cars are Siemens S200 light rail vehicles (LRVs) which are slowly replacing the 90’s era Breda LRVs. The Breda’s weren’t always the most reliable, especially their door mechanisms. With the new subway line opening (maybe) next year Muni thought it would be a good idea to start ordering new train cars sooner rather than later, and to have narrowly-defined reliability requirements in the contract. So that’s how we wound up with these new Siemens S200 train cars. Muni calls this new fleet “LRV 4” for some reason they haven’t explained as far as I know.
In my brief ride today, here’s a few things that immediately stood out:
- The exterior is a little boxier looking than the current Breda LRVs but otherwise looks pretty similar. The color scheme is nearly identical.
- These are very quiet trains, which has been par for the course in major European cities for a while but is new to SF.
- The seating arrangement is more like a typical subway with benches along the walls rather than two-across bus-style seating. This should leave more standing room during rush hour.
- Onboard audio cues sound different and may take some getting used to.
- The Clipper card readers have a new design.
But the biggest difference? This one’s impossible to ignore:
In the middle of the train is a live display with the destination, the next couple of stops, and the transfer points for the next stop. Hopefully they keep this up to date as bus routes change. There’s also an argument to be made that “Cable Car” should be more specific since there are multiple lines. But that’s all nitpicking, overall the new display is a massive improvement.
That’s all I have for now. In the future I may have some deeper impressions to share, particularly on street level stops when the stairs come down.
If you’d like to try the new Muni Metro trains SF Transit Riders has a live map of their locations here.