BART’s new train cars will have a slew of new features and improvements to the interior, exterior and propulsion systems. Among other things, the cars will be brighter, quieter and more user-friendly than today’s cars.
Based on feedback from seat labs, customer surveys and emails from the public, the train interior layout is being designed to maximize seating, openness, and comfort within the available space.
The new train design provides more handholds for shorter and mobility-impaired individuals. For taller customers, the design features a higher ceiling over the middle aisles, about four inches higher than the current BART train cars. The ceiling will be accented with indirect light.
The new train car design includes two types of seating areas to meet the diverse needs of BART customers. Commuter sections at the ends of the train cars may be preferred by individual passengers traveling long distances, while open seating areas near the doors may be preferred by riders traveling in groups. Riders with luggage, bikes, strollers or other personal items, as well as customers who want a little more legroom may also prefer the open seating areas.
The new configuration of seats will allow for roughly 10% more standing room in each train car compared with todays train cars, while reducing seats per car by less than 3%. Extra standing room will help alleviate crowded commutes and provide a comfortable trip for passengers who are only traveling a few stops.
For customers who have limited mobility or have difficulty reaching the high overhead grab bars, BART and Bombardier are exploring a variety of handhold options possibly including a multi-branch floor-to-ceiling pole near the doorways.
So far, customer feedback indicates that most riders prefer vertical poles over other types of handholds. Nevertheless, BART plans to try out a variety of options and ask for rider feedback in order to identify the best solution. The final design must consider the diverse needs of shorter people, sight-impaired riders, senior citizens, wheelchair users, and others.
During initial exploration and customer feedback sessions, riders have indicated cleanliness is a top priority. BART is currently replacing seat covers on the existing train cars with a non-porous, wipeable seat material that is easy to keep clean. This type of seat material has received a positive response among riders, so will continue to be used in the new train cars. Read more about the BART’s new vinyl seats.
Feedback from over 2,000 customers helped BART determine optimal seat dimensions for the new train cars. BART surveyed and interviewed a random sample of BART riders to learn what dimensions were acceptable:
Based on results from a series of seat labs where BART studied customer preferences for a variety of seat widths and heights, seats in the new trains will be mounted higher off the floor than in the current trains. This will allow carry-on sized luggage to fit underneath many of the seats. Also, the higher seats will be more comfortable, and will make it easier to stand up from a seated position.
Using feedback from the seat labs, Bombardier will be designing the seats in the new train cars to these dimensions:
Seat designs were developed and presented for public feedback October-November 2013.
As ridership grows, finding a seat on peak period trains is becoming harder. The new cars will have almost the same number of seats per car as today’s average BART car. With an increased fleet size of 775 train cars, the total number of seats available in the fleet will be 12% higher than the current fleet. Depending on funding availability, BART may ultimately increase the fleet to approximately 1,000 train cars, which would increase the number of seats in the fleet by 45%.
Because BART trains are constantly coupled and uncoupled between runs throughout the day it is not possible to keep a dedicated “bike car” in a predictable position on each train. So instead, the current design incorporates bike racks in every car. The racks will be designed to stabilize bikes as the train moves.
Passenger Information Systems
The new cars will include six interior digital LCD screens that will display the system map, next stop and transfer information as well as travel advisories and other announcements. BART is also planning to use the screens to relay other interesting information such as upcoming events and nearby attractions.
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In addition, the new train cars will have dedicated LED screens on the ends of the cars that will always display next stop information.
An additional digital screen on the exterior of the cars will display route color, the train’s destination, and possibly direct customers to wheelchair and bicycle areas.
In addition to the digital screens, many hearing-impaired riders may benefit from an induction loop system that transmits information directly to hearing aids and cochlear implants. This is a feature that the Bombardier engineers are planning to develop and test.
For sight impaired passengers, automatic audio announcements and a better quality PA system with speakers on both the interior and exterior of the train will improve wayfinding and information awareness.
In anticipation of the increase in ridership that is projected over the next 30 years, the new train cars will have three doors to make it faster and easier for passengers to get on and off trains. Two of the doors will be located in the same place as today. A third door will be located in the middle of the car.
As the new train cars are delivered over the course of multiple years, BART will be running a “mixed-fleet” of new and old cars. The black tiles we have today on the platform to mark where the doors open will remain useful to demarcate the doors for both old and new trains. BART will be evaluating whether any additional markers are needed to demarcate the location of the middle doors.
The doors on the new trains will use an entirely different technology than that used by the current trains. Currently, BART trains have pocket doors that slide into the wall when they open. These doors contribute to a noisy ride on BART because they do not adequately block out noise from outside the train and they can rattle as the train travels through tunnels.
The new doors will utilize micro-plug door technology. This means they will slide on a track outside the train, similar to a mini-van door. As they slide closed, they will pull in ¾ of an inch to seal tightly around the door frame. This “plug” will dampen the amount of noise that reaches the inside of the train, as well as better insulate the cars, making them more comfortable on especially hot or cold days.
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