April 4, 2012

BART unveils new railcar seats

The Oakland, Calif.-based Bay Area Rapid Transit District (BART) showcased its latest seats by rolling out a four-car train outfitted with brand new, easier-to-clean seats. The special train made a quick journey between the 19th Street and Montgomery Street stations and back, picking up passengers along the way.

Rather than continue to replace damaged and worn seats with the existing hard-to-care-for wool fabric, the BART board approved a switch to an alternative material that meets smoke, fire and toxicity standards. The seat makeover is an interim step before BART begins to replace its aging fleet and gives riders a taste of the new car experience.

“You spoke and BART listened,” BART board President John McPartland said. “Eighty-one percent of those who participated in last summer’s Fleet of the Future ‘Seat Labs’ ranked cleanliness as ‘very important’ and when comparing vinyl, fabric and hard plastic seats, 62 percent of those surveyed rated the vinyl test seats as their favorite.”

In March BART began replacing existing wool seat assemblies in 100 cars with a brand new type of seat material. These train cars will be integrated into the existing fleet — a few cars at a time — until 100 cars are achieved.

Before BART purchases more seats, on-board surveys will be conducted to determine whether or not customers give the new material a thumbs up. The survey period is expected to run between April 21 and May 2. If results of these rider surveys are positive, BART will outfit up to an additional 100 cars with the new seat material.

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