Real world testing to determine fate of poles, bike racks in new trains


Real world testing to determine fate of poles, bike racks in new trains

In a move to allow for real world public testing of the remaining design options for BART’s new train cars, the Board of Directors today voted to have the manufacturer build two different train car interiors with floor to ceiling poles and bike racks to be tested during revenue service in late 2016. 

In the summer of 2015 BART will receive 10 pilot train cars to allow for testing before the manufacturer begins to assemble the full order of train cars which will start arriving in 2017. 

The Board voted today to have 8 of the 10 test train cars include all three poles positioned at each door entry, but to move the 2 end poles another 2 inches away from the center of the doorway to provide a wider path for wheelchairs, bringing the total to 6 inches off center.  These test train cars will include the proposed bike rack.

The two remaining test train cars will have both the two end door poles and the bike rack removed.  Empty space will be left in the original bike rack location.

During the last quarter of 2016, these test train cars will be put into revenue service so the public can experience the 2 options and provide feedback.  The Board will need to vote again on the final design, taking into consideration feedback and observations from the test period. 

“The Board wants to evaluate data from real world experiences before making such an important decision that impacts all of our riders,” said Board President Joel Keller.  “We want to be as responsive as possible.  Let’s test out the various options and see if the issues people are most concerned with surface.  We want to keep the conversation open and to be guided by actual experiences.”

Floor to Ceiling Poles

The original new train car design included floor to ceiling poles positioned at each door entry to provide something stable for passengers to hold onto when the train accelerates and brakes, especially for senior citizens, those with disabilities, mobility or balance issues, and those who are not tall enough to reach the straps.  Following feedback from the BART Accessibility Task Force that the pole may provide challenges for those in wheelchairs to maneuver around, BART made adjustments to the pole design including moving it 4 inches further away from the designated wheel chair spot on the train thus providing a wider path for wheelchairs.  

Bike Racks

The original design included bike racks which hold three bikes in each car to provide a designated spot for bikes to be safely and securely held.  The racks will help prevent bikes from blocking seats, aisles, and doors. 

Immediate Crowding Relief

The first 100 trains incorporating the final design decision will arrive in 2017 which will dramatically grow the number of trains and seats on our system to provide much needed crowding relief for our passengers.   There will be more 10 car trains serving all lines to San Francisco once the trains arrive.  With BART‘s goal to order 1000 new cars, compared to today’s 669, passengers will have 38% more seats available.

Public Feedback Guided Design

Throughout BART’s public outreach process, nearly 35,000 people have weighed in on the design and BART has taken the feedback into consideration, refining the design throughout the process.  

More than 17,000 people toured the final design model and their feedback was overwhelmingly positive on all of the 10 train features they were asked to rate, from exterior appearance to comfort of seats to the poles and bike racks.  From 79% to 95% of respondents rated each of the features good or excellent.

Refinements from the latest round of customer feedback include adding armrests on seats next to doors, increasing the number of hanging straps for people to hold onto, lowering the height of the intercom to make it more accessible for people who use wheelchairs, improvements for the LCD screen including reducing glare, and providing Braille for blind customers.

Features for a Comfortable Ride

The design includes: LCD displays with real time information in various languages; wider aisles; increased reserved seating for those with disabilities; padded seats with lumbar support and wipeable seat coverings; more handholds for standees; additional intercoms throughout the train to reach the train operator; LED screens and lighting; brighter, more welcoming colors; bike racks; micro-plug doors which seal out noise for a quieter ride; a modern air conditioning system which circulates air better and automatically adjusts as the train travels through the various micro-climates of the Bay Area; automated audio announcements and a better quality PA system with interior and exterior speakers; and a third door to make it quicker and easier to get on and off trains.

BART has 775 new cars on order with the goal of funding 1,000.  Complete details about the Fleet of the Future including details of the latest public survey can be found at