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San Diego MTS Unveils Accessible ‘Low Floor’ Trolley Cars

Aired 9/30/11 on KPBS News.

It will soon be easier for people in wheelchairs and those pushing strollers to board the San Diego Trolley. The Metropolitan Transit Service unveiled a new accessible trolley car.

Metropolitan Transit Service (MTS) unveiled the first in a fleet of 57 low-floor trolley cars on Thursday. It’s part of a $620 million renewal project to make the system more accessible to passengers.

Older trolley cars with slow-running wheelchair lifts and stairs are being replaced. The new cars will provide level boarding access and a more efficient experience, said MTS spokesman Rob Schupp.

"The number of wheel chair lifts that we have to perform every day has gone up significantly, said Schupp. "It’s 50-60 percent more lift deployments now than five years ago."

The the wheel chair lifts take a lot of time to deploy, so the new cars will benefit all passengers, he added.

"It will speed up boarding, it will make our trips quicker. These are the latest and greatest in low floor technology, and it’s really going to bring up our entire trolley system to the level of the green line," said Schupp.

The first two cars will begin service on Oct. 3 at 5 a.m. in Santee on the Green Line. MTS hopes to have the new low-floor fleet operating on the Blue Line from Downtown to South Bay and the Orange Line in East County by 2014.

The project is funded by TransNet, a voter-approved half-cent sales tax, and state and federal funds.

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