BART unions might want more money and better benefits, but BART passengers want nicer, cleaner, and more spacious commutes.
Well, they just might get what they're asking for -- commuters that is.
Yesterday afternoon BART revealed a life-size mock up of its new train car design, and while it doesn't have the technology to stop people from stripping off their clothes and attacking, it does have some upgrades (40 years later) that everyday riders will greatly appreciate.
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You can check it out for yourself at the MacArthur BART station (yes, you have to go to Oakland) where there's a scale-to-model rendering of two thirds of a future BART car.
The biggest change you will see is the addition of six digital screens that will display BART maps with a red dot that'll move along the map, showing the train's route in real-time. In addition, it'll show pertinent information, such as where and why the train has come to a dead stop mid-commute. All this information will be given in four different languages.
In line with trying to keep riders informed, digital signs above each train door will display the next destination. According to BART reps, that is one of the biggest complaints riders have had over the last four years since the transit agency started eliciting feedback from passengers.
Also, the new cars will have a stanchion, or a pole with three curved bars coming off it, in the middle of the train, which means you won't have to knock someone in the head to find a place to hold onto anymore. Gone will be the days when you had to set your legs apart, squat a bit and try like hell to not be thrown around when the train takes off.
Other big changes: three doors on every car, doors that will open out and seal tight (cuts down on noise), and dedicated space by the middle door for bikes.
Now for the burning question: When are we going to start riding in these fancy BART cars? BART's Chief Marketing Officer Aaron Weinstein says that the new $2.5 billion trains should start rolling out in 2017, and phased in over time -- if all goes well.
Commuters who had a gander at the new models seemed impressed, however, some felt the transit agency has bigger problems than poopy seats.
"Hopefully they just work out a contract, that's the big thing," said Parmjit Gill of El Sobrante
If you want to see the model, there's still time -- it'll be on display all this week from 2 p.m. to 7 p.m. at the MacArthur station.