If public transportation makes you want to mummify yourself with disinfecting hand towels and stay there in that sudsy little cocoon forevermore, maybe the stainless-steel rail beasts unveiled this morning by Southern California's Commuter Train Service, gallantly titled the Guardian fleet, will make you reconsider.
The sleek design of the 10 new Metrolink trains may originate from a need to be crumple-proof -- after a suicidal SUV driver on the tracks left 11 dead in 2005 and a texting conductor allegedly caused the death of 25 more riders in 2008 -- but there's a more immediate perk to be had. These passenger cars are the sex.
Here's what we've heard so far:
"The Metrolink passenger will be riding on a train you won't find anywhere else in America," Keith Millhouse, both a Metrolink board member and Moorpark City Councilmember, said at the Moorpark unveiling.
But of course he said that. We wanna hear it from the people:
Local blogger Chris Guenzler gives a play-by-play of the Metrolink cab coming 'round the bend and pulling into the station, its green-and-blue body paint rippling in the sunshine.
Combining fashion with function -- fabulous! -- train designers (including Hyundai Rotem of South Korea) decided to point all seats toward the back, so passengers can wistfully look to from whence they came and not break their noses when the driver gets to texting.
And don't even get us started on the spacious walk-in bathrooms.
The LA Daily News talked to another warm-blooded community member: Riverside "transportation activist and blogger" Justin Nelson.
"The bathrooms are bigger and the higher seats are a little better for lumbar support," Nelson said. "I can actually rest my neck on the neck support."
We'll also let the Daily News take care of the function part:
The new cabs are designed to crumple upon impact, dispersing the energy from a crash, with an elevated compartment in the cab car to give the engineer better visibility. Inside the cars, the seats have higher backs, and tables are designed to fold upward to minimize passenger injuries.
Of course, all this sexiness comes at a price: $250 million of your state-collected tax dollars, to be exact. In all, 137 cars will be deployed by the end of next year, and by 2015 -- at an additional cost -- Metrolink officials hope to install a GPS-type system that would prevent trains from being in the same place at the same time. Real thinkers, these ones.
Things at Metrolink will get even cuter as Christmas -- er, the holidays -- draw nearer: A dolled-up Holiday Toy Express train wound in twinkly lights will be making a cheerful six-night loop around the tracks. Reads the presser:
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Santa Claus will arrive on the train, make his way down to the station, and stay with all of the guests for photo opportunities. Metrolink and station hosts are planning the evening's festivities, such as local school bands, dancers, plays, booths, etc.
Want to get up close and personal with the nation's finest? The whistle-stop tour has yet to hit these stations near you (sort of):