New light rail car designs in the works

Detail of the new, bright yellow and white reflective markings and paint scheme rail car styling designed by Metro Creative Services.  A test “mock up” was applied to an older car model by Lee Hetherington (right) in Blue Line Fleet Services and his capable team.

Detail of the new, bright yellow and white reflective markings and paint scheme rail car styling designed by Metro Creative Services. A test “mock up” was applied to an older car model by Lee Hetherington (right) in Blue Line Fleet Services and his capable team.

As previously reported, the Metro Board of Directors recently approved purchasing new light rail vehicles from Kinkisharyo International. Metro’s Creative Services group has since been hard at work creating distinctive styling and graphics for the new rail cars as well as the entire rail fleet.

“The forward looking design is intended to capture the vibrant spirit of Los Angeles,” said Jorge Pardo, Director of Art & Design for Creative Services. “We are seeking to transform Metro’s trains into gleaming, contemporary vehicles that express L.A. as a world class urban center. We’re creating a safer train and doing it with a sense of style that the world now expects of L.A.”

The the workhorse Nippon Sharyo P2020 car were the first in Metro’s fleet to receive the bold reflective yellow markings and white super-graphics overlaid onto painted cool grays of the vehicle chassis (these cars are used on the Blue and Expo Lines). A “mocked up” vehicle with the new trimmings will roll out next week and be under close performance assessment. Slight variations and tweaks may occur until the styling is perfected and agreed to by Metro department stakeholders — they want to make sure the cars work both aesthetically and can be maintained.

Full side view with new paint and decal styling, including “Metro” supergraphics and yellow dot patterns conveying motion and Southern California sunlight. Nighttime and daytime train visibility has been greatly enhanced.

Full side view with new paint and decal styling, including “Metro” supergraphics and yellow dot patterns conveying motion and Southern California sunlight. Nighttime and daytime train visibility has been greatly enhanced.

Existing train designs, featured on the Blue and Expo Lines.

Existing train, featured on the Blue and Expo Lines.

Incorporating enhanced safety was a critical objective of the design. Improvements include bright, large scale, reflective white and yellow decaling that make trains more highly visible – particularly at night – and therefore create safer conditions for customers approaching trains and at intersections.

“The increased reflectiveness of the train surfaces is impressive,” said Lee Hetherington, a 16-year veteran Metro Rail Body/Paint Leader in Fleet Services. “These trains are sure to stimulate new ridership. Other transit agencies across the nation will be envious of our bold, fresh looking trains.”

With its new styling, Metro trains will present a cohesive and more visible rolling billboard for the agency county-wide, encouraging discretionary riders and creating a safer and more attractive ride for our customers.

Designs are still being finalized. Stayed tuned for updates in the coming months.

See Fleet Graphics Concept presentation for background:

Metro Rail Vehicle P3010

Related link

39 replies

  1. LA needs to do something like this:

    http://www.crunchyroll.com/anime-news/2013/03/31/oreimo-wrap-returns-to-chiba-urban-monorail
    http://www.bulsuk.com/2013/04/tsunami-rebuilding-through-anime.html

    Japan promotes new anime, especially if said anime is set in that city, by wrapping their trains (in this case, a monorail) with promotional wrapping. And they go all the way not just the outside of the train, but the train stations, ads, signs and even the announcements as well.

    It promotes local tourism, it increases revenue to the transit operator from ad placements, brings in additional revenue from sales and taxes for selling limited edition collector’s items, and overall, they’re totally cool!

    Japan has anime, we have Hollywood here in LA. Why not do something like this on the Red Line? Why can’t we have Iron Man signs saying “please give this seat to elderly, pregnant and the disabled.” Why don’t we have cool things like Luke Skywalker’s voice making announcements of the next station or voice of Doc Brown when the next train arriving?

    Not only does Japan has better transit, they think of cool ways to make their transit fun, enjoyable and revenue making at the same time. We should do this too here in LA. We have Hollywood, then why not work together with Hollywood to promote LA transit?

  2. Nice to see a more contemporary livery finally being rolled out to the railcar fleet! I like the design in general, though the typographic design geek in me would like to see Metro use the “correct” font for the car numbers (e.g. “148” seems to be in the incorrect typeface). 🙂

    I assume some folks might have concerns that the abundance of yellow coloring might lead some casual riders to think they’re only seeing Gold Line trains, but if this design can be rolled out quickly enough (including to the Red/Purple lines), then the standardized look may help minimize confusion. And moving to lettered lines instead of colors will help as well.

  3. That older train car looks pretty nice the way it has been painted up, hopefully more of the old sharyo train cars will be painted.

  4. Looks cool? My first thoughts were “ugly.” On the other hand, what can you expect from a group that designed the cars currently being used on the Gold Line?

  5. I’m somewhat reminded of the paint job on the shuttle buses for The Parking Spot that you see at LAX.

  6. Looks great!

    @JamesLee – You do sometimes see the trains / busses wrapped in ads, so you got your wish!

  7. I appreciate the reflectivity of the paint, but can it be a white/silver reflectivity as some of us have discussed in this and an earlier post? Or just bright lights? Our concern is a design bias that bows to the Gold Line.

  8. Generally an improvement, but anything on windows that obscures the view out is bad.

  9. @Alika, I don’t think the yellow is necessary on the red/purple or green lines because they are completely grade separated, and visibility isn’t a problem. I actually prefer the cars without the yellow, but I guess that is needed for safety. If the silver/yellow scheme is run on the blue/expo lines then I think people will get used to it and not associate the gold line.

  10. I have been riding Metro Rail since the Blue Line first opened. Personally, I think the yellow on the front of the trains is pretty ugly. It makes the trains look older than ever.

  11. I didn’t realize how many people liked the current look. I always thought it looked boxy and outdated… I love the new look. About time those trains got a fresh coat of paint. The white back w/ yellow stripe just seems so boring to me.

  12. I kind of like the new scheme. It gives the older cars a clean, modern, updated look, and is much better than the current one, as was the original scheme.

    Rick say the the yellow makes the cars look older…well, they are almost 25 years old, and there is only so much you can do to them as is before you get into costly redesign/modernization. I suppose Metro could design a sleek new cowling to enhance the look of the current flat-faced cab.

  13. Huge, gigantic improvement. The current schemes are terribly dated and look like something that should be rolling in a small town, not in LA.

    Should absolutely provide positive ridership feedback.

    • Hey Gary;

      Fun idea and those cars do look great. I’ll ask around and see if such a paint scheme was considered.

      Steve Hymon
      Editor, The Source

  14. I dont like the yellow but the gray looks nice. I hope they never get rid of these old trains, they have the best look they are quiet and the dont have that big bulge the new trains have in the middle.

  15. Dear Metro,
    can’t you come up with something more creative??
    Come on, what’s with the your love of gray color?.. It’s boring, nondescript, utilitarian, and unattractive.
    How about giving your trains more vibrant colors? Maybe white with aqua-blue?.. Make it look cascading, etc. But the proposed scheme is awful, sorry to say.

  16. I agree with “GaryB”. The bright red (to match the once-existing Pacific Electric cars) would look awesome! Way better than the proposed dull gray color.

  17. Paint the Cars in the classic Pacific Electric Red with the so-called “Butterfly” striping. The striping could be reflective. This would bring back the storied “Red Cars” to Southern Caifornia. Metro could then restore the slogan “Ride The Big Red Cars”, Comfort, Speed, Safety. Metro did this on two of the train sets a few years back. I believe the Rapid buses are using the P.E. Red color. Also install the P.E. E-Flat whistles as has been done on the Red/Purple line cars.

  18. Alek, I disagree with you on the use of the gray scheme. However, I like the aqua-blue suggestion, especially if these cars are going to continue to serve primarily on the Blue and Expo Lines. I’d rather see a cool calming blue tone accent the trains rather than the bright and “too busy” yellow that they are proposing.

    Also, they could have painted the cab front black like on the Breda and Siemens cars, from the top of the cab window down to just above the headlights and brought the darker gray down from the car roof to the cab sides.

  19. Many of the old LA streetcars, the intra-city transit, were yellow/California Poppy color, so there is a history and legacy of yellow in our storied rail transit history, not just red for PCE.

    I, too, LOVE the Gold line fleet cars as the best looking. I, personally, just don’t see the big deal about the yellow planned for the front. It is obviously for safety and doesn’t seem to have that big of a negative impact.

    I will be nice for Metro to FINALLY have a unified design for ALL the rail fleet, and cease Metro’s ever changing colors for its rail and, hopefully, buses. Have we not all seen a blue colored and text marked “Express” bus working a Local route, and vice-versa, or just see a bus whose livery doesn’t belong on the route? Let’s get back to one livery for ALL buses, as well.

  20. As for RED, it looks too much like San Diego’s Trolley cars. The SD Trolley color has far too a distinctive or iconic look that it certainly would create confusion with pictures, at least. I much prefer what Metro is considering today.

  21. @Harry; Los Angeles Railway Yellow Cars were local streetcars, not interurbans. The comparison of Metro to the Red Car is the appropriate one.

  22. I vote for either the Breda’s livery or a retro Pacific Electric type livery. I can’t make up my mind on whether the one proposed is dull and pretending to be hip and modern or just plain ole ugly.

  23. It might seem like a small detail, but it would be nice to see silver used instead of grey, given that silver and bare metal were supposed to be the colors implemented on the rail livery to this day, as I understand it.

    Also, it would be wise for Metro to be open to using reflective black “Metro” decaling for a couple reasons:
    – The contrast between black and silver or light grey is greater than you’d get with white on light grey / silver; and reflective black decals should not be hard to come by as they are already in use on some taxi livery.
    – I’ve noticed the white reflective decaling that exists on the Red / Purple lines tends to look very dirty. Black decals would minimize the filth factor.

    And just out of curiosity, is there a timetable for the rollout of the new livery? I’ve seen the prototype running on the Expo Line once, but only once.

  24. What about the bright California Poppy (Orange) color that Metro currently use on its buses? Use a similar pattern as proposed with instead of yellow to show brand and network identity, branding different colors for things too much and too often degrades that fact that this is a transit network and it doesn’t simplify matters for a new transit user it complicates them. In fact it solves the problem with the Black M logo and its a color similar to the sun that creative team thought of.

    In addition this could work on the BRT lines that create a distinctive but unified branding for our transit network and save the agency a lot of money without having to reduce fares as they don’t need to have so many different colors for the livery, its just the two silver and orange.

  25. Correct to : “In addition this could work on the BRT lines that create a distinctive but unified branding for our transit network and save the agency a lot of money without having to INCREASE fares as they don’t need to have so many different colors for the livery, its just the two silver and orange.

  26. I agree. The design is good and a definitely improvement but the color choice is very poor. All red or blue would be a huge improvement. The city has enough silver and grey as it is.