The Metropolitan Transit System finalized an agreement Wednesday with the city of Mendoza, Argentina, to donate as many as 39 older trolleys that began operating in San Diego in 1995, a move that will clear room for the newest generation of light rail vehicles for MTS.
The vehicles headed for Mendoza are part of the second generation of trolleys at MTS, the Siemens SD100 series. After almost 30 years, MTS decommissioned the trolleys to lower maintenance costs and improve the customer experience.
According to the transit agency, they will become part of the Metrotranvia Mendoza light rail fleet.
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"As MTS modernizes its trolley fleet, we are very glad to see our older models continue to be put to use, serving the people of Mendoza to carry residents to work, school and other activities, just like they've been doing in San Diego for almost 30 years," said Sharon Cooney, MTS CEO. "I'd like to personally thank our friends from the city of Mendoza for this partnership. It's great to see light rail flourish in other parts of the world the way it has in San Diego, while also keeping these vehicles from the scrap heap or landfill."
The light rail systems in Mendoza and San Diego are compatible, as evidenced by a 2012 sale of 24 MTS trolleys to Mendoza from its first-generation fleet.
"The exceptional condition of our trolleys is a testament to the excellent work of our maintenance workers, technicians and trolley operators," said Wayne Terry, MTS Chief Operating Officer, Rail Division. "Donating these light rail vehicles to Mendoza benefits the city's economy and residents. It will also cost MTS zero dollars to execute. It is a win-win for both transportation agencies."
The Mendoza government is covering all costs associated with the donation and shipping, according to MTS, including labor for a team of MTS workers to reassemble the cars and plans to send technicians to San Diego in the near future for maintenance and operations training.
To make the trip to South America, the vehicles will be dismantled into two pieces and encased in plastic. They will be transported by truck to Long Beach, by boat to Antofagasta, Chile, and then by truck the remaining distance to Mendoza through the lower Andes.
The first three cars just arrived in Mendoza, and shipments are expected to continue over the course of the year. Terry and a team of MTS maintenance staff made the trip to Mendoza to oversee the arrival.