On Monday, Regional transit leaders joined with state and local elected officials to celebrate the grand opening of St. Louis Metro's new paint facility that will be used to repaint the MetroLink light rail vehicles (LRV).
Located in East St. Louis, Ill., the new $4.3 million facility enables Metro to prepare and paint the LRVs in an environmentally controlled area that is healthier for employees and better for the environment.
Many of the 87 LRVs in the Metro System have been in service since the 1990s, and average 500 miles per day as they carry passengers back and forth along the 46-mile alignment. While Metro has been manually repainting the LRVs at its maintenance facility in St. Louis, the new paint booth will improve the process through increased technology and minimize the environmental impact of maintaining the trains.
The new facility is a 9,600-square-foot pre-cast panel structure containing two distinct work areas, one of which is the totally enclosed paint booth. This design enables Metro employees to clean and prepare the trains for painting on one side of the facility, while other trains are simultaneously being painted on the other.
The prep area includes a dust collection system that is one of the "green" features of the operation. Six separate work areas in the prep bay, where employees use various air tools, are tied into a central vacuum system that will collect all the dust and other particles and transport them to dust collection bags in a separate room.
The paint booth itself is equipped with two automated "lifts" that give the individuals applying the spray paint easy access to all parts of the train. Each lift can accommodate up to two painters, further streamlining the process. The trains are painted with low VOC (volatile organic compounds) paint, and an extensive exhaust system helps to further minimize the environmental impact of the process, while also reducing the risk of dust or other particles marring the paint job.
"This facility will allow Metro to effectively and efficiently restore the body of the Light Rail Vehicles, extend the service life of each train and create a consistent image for Metro's customers," said Ray Friem, Metro's COO, transit services.