muni_generic.jpgNearly all the trains in the San Francisco Municipal Railway’s fleet of light rail vehicles are undergoing a makeover thanks in part to $9 million in federal stimulus funds, the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency announced.

On Thursday, the SFMTA, which operates Muni, unveiled the first of 143 light rail vehicles to be refurbished in part by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act funds.

As part of a $56 million contract awarded last September to rehabilitate all but eight trains in the 151-vehicle fleet, 143 Breda light rail vehicles will have their doors and step systems rebuilt and will be restored to their original operating specifications.

Other mechanical systems, including air supply units and the coupling systems that join trains, will also be rebuilt as part of the reconditioning project.

Shuttling about 20 percent of Muni’s total ridership, the light rail vehicles carry more than 160,000 boardings each weekday, according to the SFMTA.

At a time when budget shortfalls have resulted in reduced service and longer waiting times across the system, the SFMTA says restoring the trains will help it do more with less.

The rehabilitation project is expected improve vehicle availability, service reliability and performance, according to the SFMTA.

“Muni and our entire transportation system must be capable of serving new generations of residents and visitors who will depend on it to get where they want to go in this transit-first city,” SFMTA Executive Director and CEO Nathaniel Ford said in a statement.

The first rehabilitated vehicle was undergoing inspection by SFMTA personnel to ensure the work meets quality standards before the contractor can proceed with work on the remaining 142 vehicles, which entered service between 1997 and 2003.

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