Location: Pittsburgh Regional Transit’s Car House at South Hills Village

Featured guest: Justin Selepack, Assistant Manager of Rail Car Maintenance at Pittsburgh Regional Transit

3 things that surprised me:

1. In a room called the “Wash Rack,” the T train cars are washed every night after they return from transporting riders. Every other week, the trains come in for a tune-up. Additionally, the train operators can note if other repair jobs are needed and those can also be addressed daily.

2. These trains are incredibly heavy. Justin pointed out a wheel that weighs 400 pounds alone. He also showed me a “center truck,” a steel structure that holds the wheels underneath the train, which weighs over 9,000 pounds. The Car House is full of pulleys and cranes and lifting systems so the team can work with such heavy machinery.

3. These trains have some serious mileage on them. Some of the oldest cars, dating to 1987, have traveled over 500,000 miles, though Justin explained that those cars essentially have been completely overhauled. With only 26.4 miles of track on the T line, those trains have gone back and forth many times.

One thing that didn’t make the final cut: Justin took me down a short flight of stairs that led to a space underneath a train where they’d installed a state-of-the-art system that can scan the wheel systems with cameras and lasers to ensure that they’re perfectly aligned. If they can’t resolve the problem internally, Justin and his team can reach out to experts in Germany who can access the machine remotely to take a closer look at the wheel measurements.

Additional info: You can learn more about Pittsburgh’s light rail system and how to take it for a ride at the Pittsburgh Regional Transit website.

Want more Yinzer Backstage Pass? Check out our visit to Tree Pittsburgh, where we met a GIANT squirrel and learned how they grow tens of thousands of trees a year.

Boaz is the host of NEXTpittsburgh's Yinzer Backstage Pass video series. He is also an author, filmmaker, advertising copywriter, teacher, experiential storyteller, talk show host, gardener, kazoo museum curator and so much more.