MTA to Begin Repairing Fleet of Damaged LRVs

image001.jpgAn unidentified Muni light rail vehicle with serious damage from a wreck. Photo: MTA

The San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency Board of Directors is expected to vote tomorrow to approve up to $217,634 to repair two damaged Muni Metro light rail vehicles. Muni currently has ten LRVs that are out of service due to damage from crashes, roughly one-fifteenth of its 151-vehicle light rail fleet.

Both the vehicles slated for repair, numbers 1451 and 1502, have been out of service since at least this March, when an MTA presentation (PDF) identified them, along with two other LRVs, as having "medium damage." Four other vehicles were listed as having "major damage," with the total estimated cost of repair for all eight LRVs listed at $18 million.

Vehicles with anything more than "minor damage" generally cannot be repaired by Muni in-house. Given the relatively low cost of repairing numbers 1451 and 1502, which have "medium damage" and account for only a small fraction of the $18 million sum, the heavily damaged vehicles are certain to have multi-million dollar repair costs.

Since the March report, two additional Muni Metro vehicles were severely damaged in a July collision at West Portal station. Given the seriousness of that crash, one or both vehicles are likely to have sustained serious damage, bringing the number of out-of-service vehicles to ten, and compounding the $18 million figure for all the repairs.

The MTA has been actively seeking funds to begin repairing vehicles, and on September 1 the MTA board voted to dedicate $1.2 million in state Public Transportation Modernization, Improvement, and Service Enhancement Account funds to LRV wreck repairs. Originally, the funds were to go towards the Mission Bay Loop project, but the board elected to divert them to repairs. The March report also identified $2.6 million in Prop. K funds for LRV repair, and noted that LRV repair was a proposed stimulus package project, though the MTA ultimately did not receive stimulus funds for that purpose.

Muni will need to address the impact of having one-fifteenth of its LRV fleet out of service with serious damage, in addition to any LRVs removed from service with minor issues that can be fixed in-house, as it formulates its strategy towards funding vehicle repair.

"We have ten LRVs that have severe accident damage," MTA
spokesperson Judson True said recently. "We’re working on strategies to fix those and
get them back in service."

The repairs the MTA board will consider authorizing tomorrow could take up to 18 months to complete.

  • The LRV accidents are horrible enough, but then realizing their compound effect of decreased service capacity on the entire MUNI system, the accidents are just unacceptable.

  • Hal

    Doesn’t MUNI have insurance for this reason? Isn’t that the point? Or do they just have an eighteen million dollar deductible?

  • I wish they’d paint “repaired by MUNI” or something, so we’d know which trains to avoid.

  • Does Muni pursue payment from motorists found to be at fault in the crashes?

  • Michael Rhodes

    @Hal: A good question. The MTA board recently voted to purchase insurance, which has a $5 million per incident (as opposed to per vehicle) deductible. Generally, they “self-insure” for incidents under that amount.

  • michael b

    I guess I know why we’ve been having 1 car N Judah trains recently. MUNI has improved my health, however–I now walk or ride my bike, since MUNI is either too crowed or too slow (or both!) getting to work. If only the bike land on market street would come soon . . .

  • Jas

    How on earth can a Muni train cost so much? It’s not like it’s a freaking particle accelerator or aircraft. We’re talking about steel, welding, electric motors, a big VFD and some chairs. Not exactly rocket science.