San Diego (Calif.) Metropolitan Transit System (MTS) is donating up to 39 decommissioned Siemens SD100 LRVs (light rail vehicles) to the city of Mendoza, Argentina.
The first three LRVs recently arrived in Argentina, and shipments are expected to continue over the course of the year.
“As MTS modernizes its Trolley fleet, we are very glad to see our older [second-generation] models continue to be put to use, serving the people of Mendoza to carry residents to work, school and other activities, just like they’ve been doing in San Diego for almost 30 years,” said Sharon Cooney, CEO of MTS, which ordered 45 new S70 low-floor LRVs from Siemens in 2016, the first of which was delivered in 2018. “I’d like to personally thank our friends from the city of Mendoza for this partnership. It’s great to see light rail flourish in other parts of the world the way it has in San Diego, while also keeping these vehicles from the ‘scrap’ heap or landfill.”
The government of the Mendoza is covering all costs associated with the donation and shipping. To make the trip, the LRVs must be dismantled into two pieces and encased in plastic; and then transported by truck to Long Beach; by boat to Antofagasta, Chile; and by truck the remaining distance through the lower Andes to Mendoza, where a team of MTS workers will reassemble them. The government is also slated to send technicians to San Diego “in the near future for more in-depth maintenance and operations training,” according to MTS.
This is the second time MTS is sending LRVs to Mendoza. “Given the compatibly of the city’s light rail infrastructure with San Diego’s LRVs manufactured by Siemens, back in 2012, MTS sold 24 Trolleys to Mendoza from its first-generation fleet [Siemens-produced U2s, built in Dusseldorf and shipped to California],” the California agency said.
“The exceptional condition of our Trolleys is a testament to the excellent work of our maintenance workers, technicians, and Trolley operators,” MTS Chief Operating Officer, Rail Division Wayne Terry said. “Donating these light rail vehicles to Mendoza benefits the city’s economy and residents. It will also cost MTS zero dollars to execute. It is a win-win for both transportation agencies.”
MTS last summer marked the 40th anniversary of its Trolley system—the first modern light rail system in the U.S. On July 19, 1981, the Trolley’s inaugural run took place on the 15.9-mile South Line (now the UC San Diego Blue Line) between downtown San Diego and San Ysidro at the U.S./Mexico border. And on July 26, 1981, revenue service began with a fleet of 14 U2s.
Today, the Trolley system spans 65.3 miles with four lines: UC San Diego Blue, Orange, Sycuan Green, and Silver (downtown San Diego loop). (See map below.) The $2.1 billion, 11-mile Mid-Coast Extension of the UC San Diego Blue Line made its debut Nov. 21, 2021.