BART may be tuning out the protesters, but the transit agency is all ears when it comes to the seating situation. After several months of tests and public feedback gathered from Seating Labs held around the Bay Area, the transit agency announced yesterday that they will be installing new, wipeable vinyl seats on 100 train cars over the next six to nine months. The new vinyl seats are similar to what they use on the DC Metro, except "ours are nicer looking," according to Paul Oversier, BART's assistant GM of Operations.
Describing our general distaste for the wool seating, Oversier explained, "they're porous and tend to trap liquids and smell bad after that. It's been an issue around here for a while now." Also: Farts. They tend to trap train flatulence, Paul.
Anyhow, the 5,000 padded vinyl seats, which will retain BART's signature loveseat shape, should start popping up in early 2012. After a test period and some more feedback-gathering from the BART riding public, the agency will make a decision on whether to switch all fleet seats to the new design, revert back to the wool or some unknown Plan C. BART's BMW-designed fleet of the future is not expected to roll out until sometime in 2018, so it's nice to see the agency taking an interest in keeping our pants clean in the meantime. The $1.3 million budget for the upgrade comes from the agency's end of year budget surplus and they actually cost lest per car than installing new cloth.