Save Muni Calls Out Defects in the new LRVs


Date: March 26, 2019

Ed Reiskin,
Director of Transportation
San Francisco MTA

Save Muni recognizes that Muni needs new Light Rail Vehicles (LRV’s) to replace the aging fleet of Breda cars. However, the first cohort of the new Siemens cars, which are now in service, are a huge disappointment and clearly need design changes to better serve San Francisco transit riders.

The SFMTA seems to have focused on cramming as many riders as possible into the cars with uncomfortable seating and poorly designed multipurpose areas. More importantly it appears that no attention was paid to the ability to quickly safely, and smoothly couple cars to achieve the 3-and-4 car trains that the Market Street Subway was designed for.

Save Muni members have identified some other problems with the new cars. 1) jerky acceleration which leads to the danger of rider injuries:.2) inability to provide a level step onto subway platforms 3) flawed interior design that leads to sliding on the bench seats: 4) inadequate numbe kr of stanchions and straps 5) poor door configuration which hinders boarding, especially for disabled riders: 6) narrower pantograph width which will lead to both vehicle and overhead wire damage.

The Siemens cars are likely to remain in service for the next 20 to 25 years. There is an opportunity to make changes now for the next round of vehicle delivery, the cost of which pales compared to replacing or retrofitting cars that fail to serve Muni riders.

Save Muni insists that LRV’s be able to couple into longer trains at subway portals, the only way that Muni can substantially increase capacity in the Market Street Subway.

We also urge design changes to make the LRVs safe and comfortable for all riders including. 1) modifying the propulsion system or software for smooth acceleration; 2) fixing the stabilization issue to assure level boarding; 3) bucket bench seating to prevent sliding and single and double transverse seats mixed with bench seats; 4) more stanchions and straps at all heights; 5) redesigning the door areas for easier boarding for disabled riders (and strollers and walkers) and 6) wider pantographs

SFMTA should look at BART’s Fleet of the Future to see attractive, comfortable seating and well designed multipurpose spaces. We note that BART displayed a full size prototype and solicited rider comments before ordering new cars. So while the new BART cars are better than the prototype, SFMTA , which went ahead without much public input, is now considering substantially changing its new cars after already taking delivery of 20 % of the total order.

Save Muni realizes that SFMTA is committed to changes to the interior of the LRVs. But unless the issues identified above are also addressed, these cars will fail to serve the public well. While accelerating delivery is a laudable goal, it should be tempered with careful consideration of design changes that impact more than a generation of riders and operations.

We look forward to your considered response to our concerns in a timely manner.


Bob Feinbaum
President, Save Muni

cc: Julie Kirschbaum, Janet Gallegos, Tillie Chang, John Larson, Chair of the CTA CAC, Dan Weaver, Chair, MTA CAC


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