San Diego MTS Trolleys headed to Argentina for next chapter

May 19, 2022
The agreement to send the second generation of Trolleys to the city of Mendoza will free up room for the transit system’s third generation of cars.

San Diego Metropolitan Transit System (MTS) finalized an agreement to donate up to 39 older Trolleys to Mendoza, Argentina, where they will be used as part of the Metrotranvia Mendoza light-rail fleet. The Siemens SD100 Series Trolleys began operation in 1995 and are the second generation of cars to serve San Diego MTS’ network.

“As MTS modernizes its Trolley fleet, we are very glad to see our older models continue to be put to use, serving the people of Mendoza to carry residents to work, school and other activities, just like they’ve been doing in San Diego for almost 30 years,” said Sharon Cooney, MTS chief executive officer. “I’d like to personally thank our friends from the city of Mendoza for this partnership. It’s great to see light rail flourish in other parts of the world the way it has in San Diego, while also keeping these vehicles from the ‘scrap’ heap or landfill.”

The agency explains that while the Trolleys have been decommissioned for its third generation of vehicles, the nearly 30-year-old fleet remains in “excellent and durable condition,” which is why it is being donated.

This is the second time San Diego MTS is sending vehicles to Mendoza. The city purchased 24 of San Diego’s first generation LRVs in 2012.

“The exceptional condition of our Trolleys is a testament to the excellent work of our maintenance workers, technicians and Trolley operators,” said Wayne Terry, MTS chief operating officer, Rail Division. “Donating these light-rail vehicles to Mendoza benefits the city’s economy and residents. It will also cost MTS zero dollars to execute. It is a win-win for both transportation agencies.”

Mendoza is covering the cost associated with the fleet’s transfer to Argentina. The vehicles will be dismantled into two pieces and encased in plastic before they are shipped at the Port of Long Beach to Antofagasta, Chile, and will make the remaining journey to Mendoza via truck. San Diego MTS reports the first three cars have arrived in Mendoza with Terry and a small team of MTS LRV maintenance staff overseeing their arrive. Shipments are expected to continue over the course of the year.

San Diego MTS’ third generation Trolleys were ordered from Siemens in 2016 and started service in 2019. The newest vehicles have a middle section designed to improve passenger flow and provide door-to-door accessibility for riders in wheelchairs or other mobility devices. Most of the new vehicles will be used on the Mid-Coast Trolley Extension, which opened for service in November 2021.

About the Author

Mischa Wanek-Libman | Editor in Chief

Mischa Wanek-Libman serves as editor in chief of Mass Transit magazine. She is responsible for developing and maintaining the magazine’s editorial direction and is based in the western suburbs of Chicago.

Wanek-Libman has spent more than 20 years covering transportation issues including construction projects and engineering challenges for various commuter railroads and transit agencies. She has been recognized for editorial excellence through her individual work, as well as for collaborative content. 

She is an active member of the American Public Transportation Association's Marketing and Communications Committee and serves as a Board Observer on the National Railroad Construction and Maintenance Association (NRC) Board of Directors.  

She is a graduate of Drake University, where she earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in Journalism and Mass Communication with a major in magazine journalism and a minor in business management.