Transit Miamians — It’s an extremely important time to make your voices heard to your elected officials and community planners!

As many of you already know, Miami-Dade County seems to have concluded its negotiations with the firms bidding to construct and install the new Metrorail train cars, slated for delivery in the last quarter of 2014.

The Miami Herald reported early last week on Miami-Dade County Mayor Carlos Gimenez’s endorsement of the Italian company, AnsaldoBreda, to win the $313,000,000 contract to replace 136 Metrorail vehicles.

Putting aside the politics of the decision in favor of the Italian firm AnsaldoBreda over the Spanish firm CAF, TransitMiami was interested in learning more about the actual designs of the new train cars themselves, and how they would impact our daily commute.

We got in touch with the energetic and eager-to-help Acting Assistant Director of Miami-Dade Transit Rail Services, Mr. Jerry Blackman. If you recall, Transit Miami reported on Mr. Blackman’s January 2012 presentation at the Citizen’s Transportation Advisory Committee (CTAC) regarding the acquisition of the new Metrorail train cars.

At that time, unfortunately, the contract was still under bid and thus remained under the Cone of Silence. Exercising an abundance of caution, Blackman was rather tight-lipped about the contract.

When Transit Miami got in touch with Mr. Blackman just a few weeks ago, it seemed that the Cone of Silence was still in effect. Just a few days later, however, the Miami-Herald brought the public’s attention to Mayor Gimenez’s recommendation that AnsaldoBreda be awarded the multi-million dollar contract that will dictate our Metrorail experience for the next 30-plus years or so.

We were then able to convince Mr. Blackman to give us some insider information on the design of the prospective Metrorail train cars.

We didn’t get too much, but what we did get should make a good start to a deeper public dialogue on how our city’s Metrorail can best serve its people . . .

With regard to “Passenger Seating / Bicycle Rack”, we got the following excerpt from a presentation made by an unspecified bidding firm (assumedly AnsaldoBreda):

  • Color schemes, materials and designs will be finalized during the Vehicle Final Engineering Design Reviews
  • The seating layout shall provide for two ADA compliant wheelchair areas per car
  • Seat cushions shall be designed to fit on the seat frame in a clean, well designed appearance, and shall include cushion foam and upholstery
  • Seat upholstery shall be a material resistant to graffiti, vandalism, and liquid pentration
  • The seating arrangement shall include an area in the R-end of the vehicle with center facing flip-up seating to allow for passengers with either baggage or bicycles
  • Bicycle racks shall be installed with provisions to support a minimum of two (2) bicycles per car to secure bicycles

We also acquired a single rendering of the interior of one of the proposed Metrorail train car designs — it’s no Rosetta Stone of Miami Transit, but it’s a start to a more transparent public discussion:

This conceptual rendering of one of the proposed designs of the new Metrorail train cars should get us thinking: Is this the type of train that will best serve our community for the next 30-plus years?

Now that we’ve finally emerged from the secretive Cone of Silence, it’s time to speak-up! Transit Miami will be keeping a close eye on how our collective $313 million is going to be spent.

This is our city; let’s make sure it evolves the way we want - the way we need - it to . . .


18 Responses to Time to Speak-Up: New Metrorail Train Cars Coming…

  1. TJ says:

    Good job Matt. I hope you stay on top of this process and post updates to TM. Do you know if MDT intends to publicize the Vehicle Final Engineering Design Reviews process? Is there room for public input?


  2. Walter Ward says:

    Is there not an American based company that makes the cars. Why go overseas when we need the jobs here.


  3. Matthew Toro says:

    Thanks, TJ. I’ve heard no explicit talk of MDT publicizing the Vehicle Final Engineering Design Reviews.

    However, TransitMiami will be working diligently to publicize everything we can get a hold of. Moreover, with the spotlight on this critical issue, we expect MDT to be as forthcoming as possible with any and all information. Technically, since we’re now out of the Cone of Silence, all of these materials should be subject to the Sunshine laws requiring full transparency with the public.

    According to contacts at Miami-Dade Transit, there will indeed be opportunities for “public input”. At the very least, there should be presentations made at the MPO’s CTAC (Citizen’s Transportation Advisory Committee) and BPAC (Bicycle Pedestrian Advisory Committee).

    We’ll definitely be keeping you and the rest of our community abreast of developments, TJ.


  4. Meghan says:

    Which officials and community planners should we contact? Anyone in particular?
    I am using the metrorail weekly and have some ideas as to address some deficiencies. Thanks


  5. Matthew Toro says:

    Great, Meghan!

    At this point, I would direct your thoughts to the following pertinent persons:

    - Ysela Llort (Director of Miami-Dade Transit):

    - Jerry W. Blackman (Acting Assistant Director, Rail Services, Miami-Dade Transit):

    - Elizabeth Rockwell (Public Involvement Officer, Miami-Dade Metropolitan Planning Organization):

    Please do feel free to share your thoughts on this forum, too, Meghan! Let’s try to make the conversation as loud as possible from all quarters . . .


  6. Marta Viciedo says:

    Isn’t it possible to retrofit the existing cars? Or at least phase-in new cars rather than allocating so much money to a new fleet? The current Metrorail cars definitely need some upgrading but as a transit rider, I just don’t see the need for all new cars particularly when there are so many other opportunities to spend money on improving transit in Miami.


  7. JJJ says:

    One great addition would be passenger demand doors. That is, if the train arrives at a station and no one wants in or out (and its raining)…the door doesnt open.


  8. prem says:

    $2.3million per vehicle?

    Public transit sure is expensive…


  9. Kevin says:

    I’m going to go off what Marta Viciedo said, are all new cars even necessary? Technical and mechanical aspects aside, as a Metro rider, I’m completely fine with the current cars. If anything, it’s the stations that could use some upgrades (broken clocks in stations, burnt out lights, walls needing painting, etc).

    I concede that eventually new Metro cars will be needed, but perhaps these can be slowly integrated into the existing fleet. We could save this money for future Metro expansions (one can hope).


  10. bob says:

    Italian company, but if I am not mistaken, the trains will be built in Miami at a new factory.

    Also, there really are not any top-quality U.S.-based manufacturers of urban rail cars, so I don’t blame them for going foreign.


  11. B says:

    I’m sure the new cars will have automated station announcements and clocks inside, though some will miss the variety of voices making the station announcements.

    I also wonder if the train operators will still be sticking their head out the window to see if it’s ok to close the doors:).


  12. Kevin says:

    ^ Good point. Can we please finally get automated station announcements please? Preferably in Spanish and English. It’d be helpful for a lot of people.


  13. Mike Moskos says:

    FYI for everyone who doesn’t know what to do now that Apple dropped the Google routing of transit. Here is the app that blows everything else away:


  14. M says:

    Here is a look at what the new BART trains in the San Francisco area will be like. They have a lot of good ideas that we can take to Miami-Dade Transit.


  15. gerwyn flax says:

    Matthew Toro, does everthing have to be spanish? You sound irritated that the spanish firm was’nt awarded the contract. And why must the conductor announce the stops in spanish and english? English is the language of the United States. Anyone wanting to live here should learn it, and quit demanding that we capitulate.


  16. prem says:

    Gerwyn, your superiority complex is showing. Ignorant monolinguist much? Or just a stubborn umurican?
    The USA does not have an official language and good riddance!
    All languages change over time, so there really is not such a thing as a real English anyway!
    Learn Spanish, make a new friend, chill out.


  17. Gerwyn Flax says:

    Ignorant monolinguist? I think not! I’m fluent in three different languages learned through necessity by living in different countries. If I lived in Russia, I would not expect the Russians to learn English to accommodate me. No such thing as “real english”? Your lack of education is showing. All languages do not change over time. Again your lack of education! By the way, this”America” for which you seem to have such revulsion, provides you with the way of life you now enjoy. However, if you can’t respect this “Umurcia” maybe you should leave.


  18. prem says:

    That’s a tired argument.
    Maybe not all languages change over time, I’m open to some example, but I know for fact that english changes significantly both over time and over space. We don’t speak or write it the way the English do, and neither do it the way they did it 100 years ago.


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