Whose light rail train do you prefer?

In just one year, I’ve traveled to the grand opening for the Phoenix Valley’s (Arizona) first light rail line, visited the light rail lines in Salt Lake City, Utah, (opened before the 2002 Winter Olympics), and took the Megabus to Minneapolis, Minnesota, to check out the Hiawatha light rail. My devotion to monorail is unphased, but in the United States we build monorail lines at a rate of one per decade. To get my train fix, I ride light rail trains around the country. Each of the systems I mentioned uses rolling stock from different manufacturers.

Here you get to pick the best looking cars:

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Kinki-Sharyo, a manufacturer from Japan. LF LRV (low floor light rail vehicle).

A Valley Metro train waiting at the Roosevelt/Central Avenue station in Phoenix, Arizona, on December 28, 2009, for the grand opening festivities. Kinki-Shary makes many commuter and shinkansen trains for Japan.

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Bombardier, a Canadian builder. Flexity Swift car.

The Metro Transit Hiawatha line (route 55) travels northbound along the Hiawatha corridor multi-use path, approaching 24th Street in Minneapolis, Minnesota.

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Siemens, a German company. SD-100 or SD-160 car.

UTA’s TRAX light rail in the Salt Lake City valley operates trains from the Canadian-originated Urban Transportation Development Corporation (now part of Bombardier) and Siemens SD-100 series trains. The UTDC trains have butterfly doors (like some cars on the Chicago Transit Authority’s Blue Line); an example from TRAX.

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About Steven Vance

Enthusiast for urbanism, bicycling as transportation, and open data. Building a bicycle culture in Chicago.
  • http://www.yuriartibise.com Yuri Artibise

    While the Canadian in me wants to vote for Bombardier, the Phoenician and design aficionado has to go with Kinki-Sharyo, a truley impressive light rail car.

  • http://www.stevevance.net/planning Steven Vance

    I like the Bombardier trains the best. They also have a rad color scheme. Utah chose some really unattractive cars. They have an order right now for the S70 series from Siemens (San Diego uses these right now).

    I wonder what the relationship is between ridership and train attractiveness.

  • http://www.urkobold.blogspot.com stevencrane

    ima gonna go with the minneapolis cars, though the siemens cars are a close second. they might be a first, but for the butterfly doors.

  • http://zolk.com Kevin Zolkiewicz

    Out of the three models pictured, I like Phoenix's Kinki-Sharyo cars the best. Love the curves and seamless window design. However, both Bombardier and Siemens have newer models which look equally good.

  • http://www.stevevance.net/planning Steven Vance

    Seriously? That Siemens car is more boxy than any train CTA (or its predecessors) has ever run.

  • http://www.stevevance.net/planning Steven Vance

    I agree with you about the windows being a standout quality. I think this train also has more window space. (They might even be darker than the other trains because of the sun, heh.)

  • http://www.yuriartibise.com Yuri Artibise

    While the Canadian in me wants to vote for Bombardier, the Phoenician and design aficionado has to go with Kinki-Sharyo, a truly impressive light rail car.

    • http://www.stevevance.net/planning Steven Vance

      I like the Bombardier trains the best. They also have a rad color scheme. Utah chose some really unattractive cars. They have an order right now for the S70 series from Siemens (San Diego uses these right now).

      I wonder what the relationship is between ridership and train attractiveness.

  • http://www.stevevance.net/planning Steven Vance

    I like the Bombardier trains the best. They also have a rad color scheme. Utah chose some really unattractive cars. They have an order right now for the S70 series from Siemens (San Diego uses these right now).I wonder what the relationship is between ridership and train attractiveness.

  • http://www.stevevance.net/planning Steven Vance

    I like the Bombardier trains the best. They also have a rad color scheme. Utah chose some really unattractive cars. They have an order right now for the S70 series from Siemens (San Diego uses these right now).I wonder what the relationship is between ridership and train attractiveness.

  • http://www.urkobold.blogspot.com stevencrane

    ima gonna go with the minneapolis cars, though the siemens cars are a close second. they might be a first, but for the butterfly doors.

    • http://www.stevevance.net/planning Steven Vance

      Seriously? That Siemens car is more boxy than any train CTA (or its predecessors) has ever run.

  • http://zolk.com Kevin Zolkiewicz

    Out of the three models pictured, I like Phoenix’s Kinki-Sharyo cars the best. Love the curves and seamless window design. However, both Bombardier and Siemens have newer models which look equally good.

    • http://www.stevevance.net/planning Steven Vance

      I agree with you about the windows being a standout quality. I think this train also has more window space. (They might even be darker than the other trains because of the sun, heh.)

  • sightseer

    That may help folks get around while sightseeing in Phoenix..

  • http://www.sightseeingreview.com/ Sightseer

    That may help folks get around while sightseeing in Phoenix..

    • http://www.stevevance.net/planning Steven Vance

      That’s right. It’s a pretty quick (and really easy) trip from downtown Phoenix to downtown Tempe, both places have lots of culture, arts, sports, and nightlife.

      Except today (December 24, 2009): Both downtowns were pretty dead.

  • http://www.facebook.com/oranviri Oran Viriyincy

    I'm from Seattle and we have Kinki-Sharyo LRVs. While our windows and doors don't have as much glass as Phoenix's, I like our ends better than Phoenix's. Phoenix's bumper sticks out.

    Bombardier looks great overall. Too bad they couldn't hide the couplers.

    TRAX's Siemens cars are not the state of the art. If you want a modern Siemens LRV, I recommend checking out Portland MAX's Type 4 which uses S70's. Just delivered this year!

  • http://www.facebook.com/oranviri Oran Viriyincy

    I’m from Seattle and we have Kinki-Sharyo LRVs. While our windows and doors don’t have as much glass as Phoenix’s, I like our ends better than Phoenix’s. Phoenix’s bumper sticks out.

    Bombardier looks great overall. Too bad they couldn’t hide the couplers.

    TRAX’s Siemens cars are not the state of the art. If you want a modern Siemens LRV, I recommend checking out Portland MAX’s Type 4 which uses S70′s. Just delivered this year!

    • http://www.stevevance.net/planning Steven Vance

      The bumper is pretty weird. I wonder why PHX or Kinki designed it like that.

      I think Bombardier/MPLS left the couplers exposed so they can attach a snow plow (and the black bumper you see is a mini snow plow).

      TRAX has Siemens S70s on order. I don’t know if UTA needs them for replacement or for additional capacity or both. Some of their cars are used, but we all know trains are built to last for 50 years.

  • http://www.stevevance.net/planning Steven Vance

    The bumper is pretty weird. I wonder why PHX or Kinki designed it like that.

    I think Bombardier/MPLS left the couplers exposed so they can attach a snow plow (and the black bumper you see is a mini snow plow).

    TRAX has Siemens S70s on order. I don't know if UTA needs them for replacement or for additional capacity or both. Some of their cars are used, but we all know trains are built to last for 50 years.

  • http://www.stevevance.net/planning Steven Vance

    That's right.

    It's a pretty quick (and really easy) trip from downtown Phoenix to downtown Tempe, both places have lots of culture, arts, sports, and nightlife.

    Except today (December 24, 2009): Both downtowns were pretty dead.

  • http://www.facebook.com/oranviri Oran Viriyincy

    I'm from Seattle and we have Kinki-Sharyo LRVs. While our windows and doors don't have as much glass as Phoenix's, I like our ends better than Phoenix's. Phoenix's bumper sticks out.

    Bombardier looks great overall. Too bad they couldn't hide the couplers.

    TRAX's Siemens cars are not the state of the art. If you want a modern Siemens LRV, I recommend checking out Portland MAX's Type 4 which uses S70's. Just delivered this year!

  • http://www.stevevance.net/planning Steven Vance

    The bumper is pretty weird. I wonder why PHX or Kinki designed it like that.

    I think Bombardier/MPLS left the couplers exposed so they can attach a snow plow (and the black bumper you see is a mini snow plow).

    TRAX has Siemens S70s on order. I don't know if UTA needs them for replacement or for additional capacity or both. Some of their cars are used, but we all know trains are built to last for 50 years.

  • http://www.stevevance.net/planning Steven Vance

    That's right.

    It's a pretty quick (and really easy) trip from downtown Phoenix to downtown Tempe, both places have lots of culture, arts, sports, and nightlife.

    Except today (December 24, 2009): Both downtowns were pretty dead.

  • http://www.asgardsss.co.uk/list.php?cat_level=0&cat_code=GS&cat_name=Metal%20Garden%20Sheds&from=main Metal Garden Sheds

    By choosing the light rail for me “Kinki-Sharyo” is the best for me which was well designed by the Japanese company rather than the Canadian and German companies

    • http://www.stevevance.net/planning Steven Vance

      I also prefer Kinki-Sharyo, but purely on design and not on nationality.

  • http://www.asgardsss.co.uk/list.php?cat_level=0&cat_code=GS&cat_name=Metal%20Garden%20Sheds&from=main Metal Garden Sheds

    By choosing the light rail for me “Kinki-Sharyo” is the best for me which was well designed by the Japanese company rather than the Canadian and German companies

  • Tom

    As a Minneapolitan I’d have to say the Kinki-Sharyo looks the best but our Bombardiers are pretty tough. The Bombardier above is not showing livery colors – that’s a full-train-wrap advertisement. The livery is kind of mediocre. Looks like Minneapolis’ Type II (being procured right now) will be Siemens S70 stock, which are IMO much nicer looking than the old boxy Siemens trains like St. Louis uses.

    • http://www.stevevance.net/planning Steven Vance

      The boxy trains you speak of can also be found in great numbers in Salt Lake City and Portland. Both are upgrading to the S70 (but different variations).

      Portland chose a more sloping end model while Salt Lake City ordered the snub nose. The Utah Transit Agency explains why on their Flickr.

      I like the bright yellow livery of MPLS’ Bombardier train. Not a fan of the S70 based on my short ride in Portland. See this photo for my description why.

  • Tom

    As a Minneapolitan I'd have to say the Kinki-Sharyo looks the best but our Bombardiers are pretty tough. The Bombardier above is not showing livery colors – that's a full-train-wrap advertisement. The livery is kind of mediocre. Looks like Minneapolis' Type II (being procured right now) will be Siemens S70 stock, which are IMO much nicer looking than the old boxy Siemens trains like St. Louis uses.

  • http://www.stevevance.net/planning Steven Vance

    I also prefer Kinki-Sharyo, but purely on design and not on nationality.

  • http://www.stevevance.net/planning Steven Vance

    The boxy trains you speak of can also be found in great numbers in Salt Lake City and Portland. Both are upgrading to the S70 (but different variations).

    Portland chose a more sloping end model while Salt Lake City ordered the snub nose. The Utah Transit Agency explains why on their Flickr.

    I like the bright yellow livery of MPLS' Bombardier train. Not a fan of the S70 based on my short ride in Portland. See this photo for my description why.

  • Anonymous

    The Phoenix ones look swish but I kinda like the Trax cars. Not sure exactly why, I just do!

    The Minneapolis flexity swift cars are based on the ones that run past my office in Croydon, England. Those in turn are based on earlier examples operating in Cologne, Germany.

    • http://www.stevevance.net/planning Steven Vance

      The old or new Trax cars?

      Check out my comments above that show the difference between the new UTA Trax cars and the new Portland TriMet cars – they’re the same model (S70) but have different end designs.

  • Anonymous

    The Phoenix ones look swish but I kinda like the Trax cars. Not sure exactly why, I just do!

    The Minneapolis flexity swift cars are based on the ones that run past my office in Croydon, England. Those in turn are based on earlier examples operating in Cologne, Germany.

    • http://www.stevevance.net/planning Steven Vance

      The old or new Trax cars?

      Check out my comments above that show the difference between the new UTA Trax cars and the new Portland TriMet cars – they’re the same model (S70) but have different end designs.

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