While we're all certainly excited for the numerous amenities the new BART cars will offer, the seats are obviously the most important. It was with this in mind that we saw with excitement that BART officials today published an explainer as to just what, exactly, we can expect from the new train seating. Let's dive in.
First, officials are quick to assure us, "the seats feel great." "It's a Goldilocks-like sweet spot that varies by personal preference, but the best way I could describe it to you is: Not hard plastic like a Muni seat," writes one BART employee who had the pleasure of testing out the seats on the new trains. "Not spongy like the old fabric BART seats. Somewhere in between, that felt for this rider, just right."
A handy diagram helps break it down even further (see below), highlighting "six seat strengths." Those strengths are handles for people walking or standing nearby, lumbar support, more space underneath the seats to store luggage (think trips to OAK or SFO), silicon padded seats, a lack of crevices in which to lose your change, and finally (perhaps questionably), "cool colors to calm your commute."
The seats were selected following a lengthy testing process involving every-day riders. Running in the summer of 2011, the "seat labs" involved 2,200 passengers trying out one of twelve seat variants (the full findings are available to read online). "Participants were given the opportunity to comment on various types of material," reads a summary of the findings, "and the word 'clean' was used 653 times in comments" (apparently people didn't want a repeat of the gross cloth seats of yesteryear).
In other words, these things have been thoroughly vetted.
But what about the colors, which some 49ers fans claim to be too reminiscent of the Seattle Seahawks colors? BART officials reject that claim. And anyway, if they're comfortable enough, we'll all manage to get over it somehow.
The first of the new cars are scheduled to go into service before the end of this year, so you should have the chance to form your own opinion in the very near future.