When a family buys a new car, the mom, the dad, and each of the kids typically wants a say on the model, sound system, upholstery and other features.
When BART buys new cars, it’s got some 360,000 daily riders to think about – a mobile village of varying tastes, needs and politics.
Are you tired of conservative blue seat colors? Are there too few seats for long rides? Not enough space to get in trains in rush hour? Is more space needed for bicycles and wheelchairs? How about televisions on trains? Do the floors and seats smell like overused sleeping bags because they soak up grime and odors?
The rapid transit system is trying to find out what BART riders really want in the design of the train car of the future. BART is preparing to order up to 700 cars to replace its aging fleet of cars.
The BART Board gave and got samples of the design concerns Thursday in a special workshop to unveil some alternative conceptual models for the $3.4 billion car order.
Under some options, BART cars would have a third door, fewer seats and more standing room to carry more passengers and unload them faster. This is a big plus for increasing BART’s people-carrying capacity in a growing region, but a potential bummer for travelers who get stuck standing on a long ride from the suburbs.
“We can’t make them stand that long,” said Gail Murray, a BART board member from Walnut Creek. “That’s my bottom line.”
The long distance riders, she said, supply most of BART’s fare revenue money under a fare structure that charges more for longer trips.
Despite the recession that has cut into BART’s passenger growth this year, some trains still are very crowded during rush hour. The crowding will only worsen in the decades to come as the region’s population increases, BART planners say.
Positioning of seats is another design concern. Most BART seats face forward or back, but positioning more seats to face sideways would open up more standing room to handle more passengers.
To improve comfort for standing passengers, BART proposes to look at installing poles in the center of cars with cushioned pads for people to lean against. This concept is borrowed from London’s subway.
In other thoughts from board members, Murray said she wants to do replace the “staid” blue seat colors for “21st century” colors. Lynette Sweet of San Francisco wants stain resistant, easily cleaned seat and floor material to preserve her dream that BART cars some day may permit drinking beverages from leak-resistant containers.
BART has posted drawings of alternative models at www.bart.gov.cars/, as well as offering viewers a chance to submit comments.
One BART rider from San Ramon who read my story about the train design called me up to express his priorities.
Quieter cars, clearer public address announcements, and easier to clean seats and floors are on Moises
“You can hear the public address announcements, but you can’t understand them,” Ostrovsky told me earlier today.
His ideas reflect what many BART riders say in surveys. In the new trains, train arrival announcements will be automated for the most part, BART officials say, and there may be lighted maps on walls to show train locations and stops.
So what are your ideas for the train car design? Let us know below, and visit www.bart.gov.cars/ to submit your ideas to the transit agency.