New subway cars for Metro Red, Purple lines will be made in China — and America

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Los Angeles transit officials inked a $178-million deal Wednesday to replace the aging rail cars on the Metro Red and Purple line subways, plus ferry passengers on an extended line to Beverly Hills.

The Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority signed a contract with China Railway Rolling Stock Corporation Ltd., to begin building 64 rail cars for $178 million in both China and the United States.

With five options to buy as many as 282 rail cars, the contract sum signed during a ceremony at Union Station came to $647 million.

“We’re turning L.A. from the Car Capital of the World into the transit capital,” said Dave Sotero, an MTA spokesman. “These new subway cars will be improvements over what we now have, creating a better passenger experience for our riders.”

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The 64 cars, scheduled to go in service by September 2021, will include gangways that allow riders to freely move from one car to another; LED screens for the latest travel information; active maps to show riders where they are along each route; and USB ports to allow passengers to charge their laptops and phones. A test car will be delivered in four years.

Thirty of the cars will replace the Red Line and Purple Line rail cars from North Hollywood to downtown to Mid-Wilshire, now up to 17 years old, according to the MTA.

The remaining 34 cars will be used for the Purple Line’s four-mile extension from Mid-Wilshire to Beverly Hills in 2023.

The cars’ exterior shells will be made in Changchun, China, with final assembly completed in Springfield, Mass., according to the transit agency, which exceeds a federal “Buy America” provision that requires 60 percent of components be American-made.

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They will be paid for using a combination of federal and local funds, including a fraction of the just-passed Measure R transit sales tax.

“We are confident that our contract with CRRC will produce the best, highest quality rail vehicles that our customers expect and deserve,” said Metro CEO Phillip A. Washington.

Metro claimed the Chinese company offered the best overall value for the lowest price, while offering the highest U.S. component content with a top record for quality and on-time vehicle delivery.

The MTA subway car deal was expected to create 50 local jobs valued at $38 million a year, Metro officials said, with 10 percent going to disadvantaged workers at a new manufacturing plant in Los Angeles for railcar propulsion, heating, A/C, ventilation and lighting systems.



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