Behind-the-scenes look at new Muni trains

- KTVU's Sal Castaneda got a look at Muni's brand new fleet of trains, and they are a lot different from what you may be used to.

From the outside the new trains look similar to the ones running now but there are a lot of improvements both inside and out.

When you step inside you'll notice the seating is different. The seats are side facing which makes for wider aisles and easier access for people in wheelchairs.

It also makes it easier for people to stand and to get on and off crowded trains - and there are more places to hold on.

Director of Transit John Haley says, "As soon as we get these cars into service we'll use them on the most crowded lines. Because our twin problems if you will, with the current system are first crowding and second reliability and they'll be an immediate improvement in both as we introduce these new cars."

Muni delays in the subway are often caused  by defective doors. Muni official say as many as 40 percent of all delays are caused by door problems

Recently a door even fell off of a moving train.

The new light rail vehicles have a new better door that fails less and is easier to diagnose and fix when it does.

Technology is the key in the new streetcars. Not only is it going to make it easier for riders, it will make it easier for Muni technicians to diagnose problems.

"If you have a problem with a component and you don't have an urgent problem but you need to look at this component or it may fail in two days it will provide very specific information," said Haley.

This should lead to fewer surprises and broken down trains.

The new cars are also lighter which means less wear and tear on tracks, and other infrastructure. Muni says the new cars will also be quieter.

The new cars will be phased in over the next 10 years until all the old ones are retired.

Each new LRV is priced at $3.3 million.

Muni has agreed  to purchase 215 new LRVs built by the Siemens Corporation in Sacramento at a cost of $700 million which will come from federal, state and local funds.

Muni has been testing the new LRVs in the late night and early morning hours making sure the trains can fit in all the tunnels and make all the turns along the system.

Julius Navaro is one of the mechanics assigned to working on the new cars.

"It's super exciting. It's like a kid on Christmas. You're opening it up, you're playing with it, you're trying to figure stuff out. It's something exciting and new for San Francisco.

The new streetcars are the first to be purchased since the last major purchase in the mid 1990's.

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