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Bikes on a train: METRO debuts new cars with racks to swoon over

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Houston METRO, new train car, October 2012
METRO welcomed the first of 19 new light rail vehicles (LRVs) on Monday.  Houston METRO/Facebook
Houston METRO, new train car, interior, October 2012
These LRVs have a capacity of about 200 passengers per car, plus bicycle racks at the front and rear doorwys of each. Houston METRO/Facebook
Houston METRO, new train car, October 2012
The units also allow an option to couple up to four units for greater capacity during peak times. Houston METRO/Facebook
Houston METRO, new train car, October 2012
Houston METRO, new train car, interior, October 2012
Houston METRO, new train car, October 2012

As part of an $83 million contract with Siemens, METRO welcomed the first of 19 new H2 S70 trains to its light rail fleet this week. The rest will be added over the next year and a half, taking some of the strain off of the 18 nine-year-old S70 models currently in service. 

"The new light-rail-vehicle (LRV) is not just a rail car. It represents a savings of nearly a year's time in getting optimal service to rail passengers. These units will help us offer more timely and comfortable trips," METRO board chairman Gilbert Garcia said in a statement.

 This option for cycle storage is a huge improvement from the current system (which is actually no system at all). 

Among the changes that come with the new generation of vehicles? Capacity for about 200 passengers per car, an option to couple the units for greater volume during peak times and sliding doors spaced to better facilitate fast passenger loading and unloading.

Plus, perhaps the most exciting development: Bicycle racks located at the front and rear doorways of each car. 

This option for cycle storage is a huge improvement from the current system (which is actually no system at all, leaving passengers to precariously balance with their wheels during stops and starts), but cyclist ridership will still be limited by time restrictions.

And it begs the question: Will the racks slow down train arrivals and departures more than the improved doors serve to speed them up?

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