Jammed doors. Steaming hot cars. Antibiotic-resistant fecal and skin-borne bacteria (aka MRSA) nestled in those hard-to-clean plush blue seats. There are a number of recurring issues and design flaws to complain about on BART’s old trains, many of which have been chugging along since the transportation system was first built in the 1970s. The trains were rehabilitated in the 1990s to extend their life another 15 years — and we’ve passed that deadline, too.
But Friday afternoon, BART officials unveiled the first train of its long-anticipated Fleet of the Future at MacArthur Station. If you’ve skimmed the headlines but haven’t read all the details, here’s a list of some of the ways these new cars totally rule:
- The aforementioned fabric seats, which soaked up soda, urine, and bacteria have been replaced by padded seats with a wipeable surface. Rumor has it they’re more comfortable, thanks to lumbar support, and they come in some nifty cheerful colors: lime green and bright blue (Pantone 7706 and 390 for the design nerds out there).
- Three sets of doors per car, instead of two. Speedier boarding, here we come.
- Better bike racks. No more leaning bikes in awkward piles that collapse every time the train stops and starts.
- A quieter ride. Better insulation and doors with a “micro plug” mean a less ear-piercing commute through the tunnel.
- Digital screens in each car that announce the next stop. Forget the frantic peeking outside the train’s dark windows to see what stop you’ve pulled into — just look up.
- You know those rare hot days when you enter a car and it is at least 20 degrees warmer than outside? Yeah, the new fleet won’t have that issue. Cooling systems distribute air directly from the ceilings.
It also probably goes without saying, but a fleet of new trains will hopefully break down much less than the old ones.
There are a few things this fleet won’t have: outlets for charging devices, a speedier rate of travel, or dedicated cars for bikes. There are also fewer seats to maximize the number of passengers each car can carry, so that luxurious bench you snag 50 percent of the time may no longer be an option.
But hey, at least if you do sit down, you’ll have a better chance of not contracting a staph infection.