Staff report on beginning process of acquiring new subway cars

With the Purple Line Extension’s groundbreaking ceremony now behind us, Metro staff is seeking approval from the Metro Board of Directors to begin the process of purchasing 64 new subway cars for the Red and Purple Lines. The Metro Board is scheduled to consider the item at its meeting tomorrow.

The Purple Line Extension’s first phase to Wilshire/La Cienega is forecast to open in 2023 — about the same time that some original subway vehicles are nearing the end of their service lifespan. Staff are seeking to initially purchase 64 rail cars — 34 new ones to help provide service on an expanded Purple Line and 30 to replace aging cars.

Of course, getting new rail cars is no easy task: Metro staff need to evaluate potential bidders, develop a request-for-proposal, evaluate bids and then recommend a bidder to the Metro Board, who must approve a contract. And then the cars must be constructed and delivered to Metro for inspection and testing.

Metro is also in the process of acquiring 78 new light rail vehicles that will be used throughout Metro’s light rail system, present and future.


12 replies

  1. Here’s my wishlist for Metro’s Generation-2 Heavy Rail Vehicles:


    2. Color LED signs to represent Red & Purple (or other) colors

    3. A better-quality public address system that carries low (bass) frequencies so announcements do not get masked in tunnel noise (In other words, something that does NOT sound cheap and midrangey like the A650s!)

    4. Visual similarity with the P3010’s body decals/accents (i.e. a different color, but applied in a similar way)

    5. Onboard WI-FI, baby.

    6. Dedicated bike racks or extendable brackets that can secure bikes to prevent rolling

    7. Video screens (though this is probably inevitable given the P3010s)

    8. An active map display (either via video screen or LED lights) indicating stations approaching/passed).

    9. No more 1980s-style cream-colored interior please

    10. Also no more 1980s-style fluorescent light fixtures please

    11. But keep the PE-style E-flat trombone whistle, pretty please!

  2. I agree that it would be nice to be able to move between rail cars like they have on Amtrak for instance. However, I am not in favor of eliminating seating for more standing. As a disabled person many times I do not get a seat as is. It is just plain rude that young people who are in good health take seating away from senior citizens and disabled people.

    • Half the time the trains are crowded enough as it is that there’s only standing space available. And as more people turn to transit, the trains are just going to get even more crowded. Some of the seats have to go. Many trains all over the world run trains where seats face the aisle to increase standing space, like this one in NYC Subway and the London Subway:

      In Japan, seats even fold up at a press of a button by the train operator on busy peak commuting times:

      Inevitably, that’s what Metro needs to do too as ridership increases. They can’t add more rail cars, stations weren’t built to handle more rail cars. If you want to add more rail cars, then all the stations have to be rebuilt and upgraded to handle lengthier rail cars and that’s going to cost millions of dollars. The only way to maximize capacity is to start reducing seats by making them face the aisle and increase standing room space.

      • I don’t support switching to center-facing seating exclusively, though I know it’s in use on a good number of (but not all) systems. However, I do support reevaluating the ratio of center-facing seats to paired seats, as Metro’s heavy rail cars have too few center-facing seats to be sure.

  3. Are the 78 new light rail vehicles still behind schedule? Has the manufacture been able to make up the time they lost form their mistake? What did the company do wrong again?

    • Hi Warren;

      The light rail cars are on schedule. The issue was that the Board had previously awarded the contract to another firm and that deal fell through, thereby delaying the purchase of the rail cars.

      Steve Hymon
      Editor, The Source

  4. Cars that have spent all of their life operating underground ought to be able to last for 40 years as they have done in Montreal. Even in all-weather Boston, the Pullman-Standard-built 01500 and 01600-series cars on the Red Line are nearly 45 years.
    That is thanks to mid-life rebuilds. There are other examples such as PATCO, which is rebuilding their 45 year old cars for only $1.6 million each:

    Where is Metro getting a number like $3.1 million which is about what a new car would cost?

    • Hi Erik:

      Please see the “financial impact” of the Metro staff report. Some of the funds are coming from the Purple Line Extension project budget.

      Steve Hymon
      Editor, The Source

      • Steve,
        Respectfully, I am not interested in where the money is coming from; Rather I am interested in why a rebuild is estimated to cost double what other agencies are paying and the same as a new car. Why is this cost so high?

  5. Can Metro look into buying vehicles that can be driverless? And also more desirable subway cars where passengers can travel seemlessly between each car. Similar to how subway trains are in Asia and on the newer London Tube trains. It creates safer passenger experience as it feels as if one is ridig in one big car versus a small car with fewer people.

    • I second Craig’s suggestion. The RPF should require cars that are connected from the inside. The main advantage of this design is that you can redistribute passenger overcrowding by allowing people to move around.

    • Seat alignments has to be done first to increase standing room aisle space. That’s the easiest way to add more capacity without actually buying more rail car sets.