The promise of a sleek, new way to get around on public transportation is inching closer as Miami-Dade unveiled the first two new Metrorail cars that are ready for testing.
The two cars, unveiled Monday, are the first of a planned 136 new cars that will be introduced into the system between 2017 and the end of 2019. Miami-Dade transportation leaders hope to have these two cars on the rails by the end of next year.
The new fleet is being designed and built by Hitachi Rail USA and the cars will keep some existing features like free WiFi while adding new digital media displays, interior bike racks, an improved audio system for announcements and a new overall look that’s been described as futuristic.
The pair of cars will be tested over the next eight to nine months at both the Hitachi USA facility in the town of Medley and the Lehman Center for Transportation Research. The cars will be tested for any electrical and mechanical issues, balance ability and for connectivity between the cars.
Alice Bravo, the director of the county’s transportation and public works department, said regular Metrorail riders will definitely see a difference in their experience.
“You’ll have improved lighting, new air conditioning, the digital boards will give information on nearby destinations,” Bravo said. “The ride is going to be smoother and we shouldn’t have any disruptions in service due to the conditions of the vehicles.”
The testing of the cars comes after some delays in the $313.8 million project, which was approved in 2012, as county commissioners wanted to see a new look for the cars and the Hitachi facility just opened in March. Bravo said the department still expects the project to remain on time and on budget.