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San Francisco's Mayor Lee Sheds Light On Financing Muni's Light Rail Expansion

SAN FRANCISCO (KCBS)— San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee may have already announced a major expansion of Muni's light-rail fleet, but at a news conference he said options to finance the multi-million dollar project are still being considered.

Lee made an announcement Tuesday morning at the Muni Metro East Maintenance Facility at 601 25th Street at Illinois, where the aging fleet of cars is maintained.

"We've had an opportunity to add an additional 40 light-rail vehicles to our fleet. That's the announcement today that we've figured out how to do it," he said.

A six-year process is already underway to replace the 170 car light-rail fleet.

The San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency (SFMTA) will seek up to $153 million in California cap and trade funds and the $57 million balance from the MTA. If that doesn't work, the Metropolitan Transportation Commission (MTC) is expected to guarantee funds to fill in the gap.

Chair of the SFMTA Tom Nolan is thrilled with the new technology of the new cars.

"Currently our light-rail vehicles breakdown on the average of about 5,500 miles. These new ones will be about 59,000 miles. That will make a huge difference in the lives of San Franciscans every single day," he said.

Siemens Rail Systems, which was awarded the contract to makes the cars, offered a window to make the cars at a good price. They will produce the new fleet with options for an additional 85 cars.

The first should be ready to go by the end of 2016.

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