MIAMI-DADE COUNTY. Fla. – An international crowd gathered Wednesday to catch a glimpse of the new fleet of sleekly designed Metrorail cars that are slated to be in service by late 2019.
The county is using its half-penny transit tax to update the dated fleet of Metrorail cars that went into service in 1984. The new cars will feature a variety of amenities, including Wi-Fi, LED lighting and bike racks.
County officials hope that the modern style and amenities, along with customized technology will change the riding experience.
"We're really happy about it," Miami-Dade County Mayor Carlos Gimenez said. "The new design, the new colors, its bright and its the future and we hope that we'll have many more riders."
The county is set to spend roughly $376 million for 136 rail cars that are designed and built by transportation giant Hitachi Rail. The company will assemble the new fleet in Medley at a sprawling, state-of-the-art 140,000 square-foot facility.
"Infrastructure investment is very important for us, and I think such a new facility and new trains will attract some more investment and that could be a very big opportunity for us," said Hitachi Rail Global Chief Operating Officer Kentaro Masai.
The assembly factory is expected to create about 100 new jobs in the area.
"The market in the USA asked to have a facility, and it's important because you reduce the cost to assemble here and also you have the opportunity to create jobs, and for me that’s an important value," CEO of Hitachi Rail Italy Maurizio Manfellotto said.
While the new fleet is sure to turn heads, there are pressing issues with the rail line’s decades-old infrastructure. Hitachi Rail hopes to remedy those problems with some of the technology that will be found in the new fleet.
That includes sensors that will be able to tell if something is wrong on the track.
The county has already made other upgrades including the new Orange Line to Miami International Airport.