Transit Briefs: Caltrain, Metrolinx, NYCT, Sound TransitWritten by Marybeth Luczak, Executive Editor
Caltrain’s third and fourth new Stadler-built KISS EMUs (electric multiple unit) arrive in San Jose, Calif. Also, GO Transit debuts DC character-themed PRESTO fare cards for FAN EXPO Canada in Toronto; a new cohort of MTA New York City Transit (NYCT) train operators graduates; and Seattle’s Sound Transit takes delivery of the first two of 11 new commuter railcars from Alstom.
Caltrain on Aug. 22 reported that the third and fourth EMUs of 19 on order have arrived at the Centralized Equipment and Maintenance Facility in San Jose.
The EMUs were built by Stadler US at its Salt Lake City, Utah, facility, and then tested at the Transportation Technology Center in Pueblo, Colo., before being sent to California. Caltrain will test each EMU—which includes seven cars, as opposed to the current five or six—before it starts service in 2024.
The EMUs will replace the commuter rail operator’s existing diesel fleet. Caltrain awarded Stadler a $551 million contract in August 2016 for 16 six-car KISS bilevel EMUs, with an option for a further 96 cars worth an additional $385 million. In December 2018, Caltrain exercised an option to extend the trains from six to seven cars, and ordered another three seven-car trains. They are part of the Electrification Project to upgrade and electrify Caltrain’s 51-mile double-track system from the 4th and King Station in San Francisco to the Tamien Station in San Jose (see map above).
Caltrain last month tested its first EMU between the Santa Clara and Tamien (San Jose) stations.
Metrolinx has launched a partnership with FAN EXPO Canada, Warner Bros. Consumer Products, and DC to produce 5,000 DC character-themed, limited-edition PRESTO fare cards. They will be available at FAN EXPO Canada, which on Aug. 25-28 will bring together thousands of sci-fi, horror, anime, comic book and gaming fans at the Metro Toronto Convention Center.
Designed by DC artists Jason Fabok, Tim Sale, Yanick Paquette and Gary Frank, there are five different PRESTO card options, including Superman, Wonder Woman, The Joker, and two designs featuring Batman. Each cost C$35 plus tax, according to Metrolinx.
Twenty-nine new subway train operators have graduated at NYCT, following completion of training at the New York City Transit Learning Center in Brooklyn. They are slated to help the agency tackle crew shortages and bolster the frequency of subway service.
“The new employees join the hundreds of bus operators, train operators and conductors who recently completed their training—part of a deliberate effort by the MTA to rapidly grow the number of bus operators, subway train operators and conductors,” the agency reported. “A hiring freeze, necessitated by a fiscal crisis that developed during the pandemic, depleted the ranks of train operators and conductors with many veteran workers retiring or leaving their front-line posts. Along with improved recruiting efforts and speeding up training for new employees, the MTA addressed the staff shortage by bringing back recently retired train operators, scheduling additional overtime, and buying back vacation time.”
“We will continue to aggressively hire train and bus operators to ensure we are meeting our service commitments,” NYCT President Richard Davey said. “Coupled with our overall efforts to improve employee availability, this new class of train operators will ensure that public transit is the best option for riders returning to work and school this fall.”
Last month, NYCT reported the graduation of 20 new conductors.
Alstom has delivered a cab car and a coach car for Sound Transit’s S Line commuter rail service from Lakewood to Seattle. They are part of a $46.5 million, 11-car order (three cabs and eight coaches) approved by the Sound Transit Board in 2020. That order was an option to a 1998 contract with Bombardier (acquired by Alstom in early 2021) for 38 coaches, worth $74.7 million.
A second shipment of two more cars is expected in mid-September, according to Sound Transit.
The 11 new cars will increase the Sounder railcar fleet to 78, which includes both cab and coach cars. All the new cars will go through inspections, systems testing and commissioning before being put in service. The first of the new cars are expected to begin operating this fall.