BART Board to Hear New Train Survey Results, Vote on Key Design Choices at Meeting on Thursday

June 11, 2014 16:00 pm · 11 comments


The Board of Directors on Thursday is scheduled to hear results of public input on BART’s Fleet of the Future and to vote on two key design choices for the new trains: floor-to-ceiling poles and bike racks.

In spring 2014 a model of the new train car was set up at 10 outreach events where the public could tour it, ask questions and fill out a survey. More than 17,000 visitors attended, 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. (For full results download the PDF of the presentation that will be made to the Board).

Combined with earlier feedback collected over the past three years, that means nearly 35,000 people have weighed in on the Fleet of the Future. Details on the design and public outreach process can be found at

“This latest customer survey gives us the feedback we need to make final refinements to the design before assembly of the train cars begins,” said Aaron Weinstein, Chief Marketing Officer.

Examples of decisions made in response to previous customer feedback include easier-to-clean, wipeable seats; a new type of doors that will seal out noise to provide a quieter ride; and improved information on digital screens and automated announcements.

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, and lowering the height of the intercom to make it more accessible for people who use wheelchairs.

The new fleet will have more capacity. Although on average there will be 4.6 fewer seats per car, BART has set a goal to increase the fleet to 1,000 cars from just 669 today, which will increase the overall number of seats in the fleet by 38%.

“The new train cars will bring relief from cromodel train car at civic centerwded conditions on BART,” said BART Board President Joel Keller. “The first 100 of the new cars is set to roll out in 2017, with more to come in each of several years thereafter. That will allow BART to lengthen trains that are currently shorter than the 10-car limit. And eventually, after a companion project to upgrade the train control system, BART will also be able to run more trains, more frequently.”

The Board is scheduled to take action on staff recommendations regarding two of the new train features that had generated some of the most intense discussion.


One, the poles, is the focus of some people with disabilities, particularly those who use wheelchairs, who are concerned the poles would make access more difficult.

“The purpose of the poles is to provide a stable handhold for shorter people who can’t reach overhead bars, seniors, and people with mobility or balance issues,” Weinstein said. “On the other hand, many people who use wheelchairs, have told us that the poles are in the way.” “We’re looking for a solution that best meets everyone’s needs.”

About 7,000 people took the survey after touring the model car, and of those 942 identified themselves as having a disability. More than two thirds of respondents with disabilities (72%) rated the poles excellent or good. While the pole was particularly popular with seniors and people with balance or mobility issues, many people who use wheelchairs or are blind gave low ratings to the pole.

The Board will consider several alternatives to strike a balance that meets everyone’s needs: Alternative 1 moves the poles further away from the wheelchair areas on all cars; Alternative 2 removes poles from the middle door area on all cars; and Alternative 3 removes two poles from each cab car (“cab” cars, with room for a train operator, make up 40 percent of the fleet). The staff recommendation to the Board is a hybrid of Alternatives 3 and 1: Remove two poles on cab cars, and shift poles further away from wheelchair areas on non-cab cars.

BART had worked closely with its advisory Accessibility Task Force over the past three years to address a host of issues intended to improve access, and many are part of the design plan. For example, there will be floor markings for wheelchair areas, wider aisles, intercoms near doors and automated announcements for customers with vision impairments.


On the bike rack issue, there are three options from staff: Alternative A puts one bike rack on all cars (as seen in the train model); Alternative B puts one rack in non-cab cars only; and Alternative C removes bike racks altogether. The staff recommendation to the Board is Alternative A.

After the Board vote, the design phase ends, and the manufacturer will begin assembling pilot cars for testing on the BART system in 2015 to prove safety and reliability. After that, general production will begin, with more than 100 new cars going into service each year beginning in 2017.

Sacto Rob June 11, 2014 at 4:19 PM

And for those of you who think “PUBLIC COMMENTS” have any impact whatsoever on bureaucratic decision making, I have some swamp land you might be interested in buying.
“Public comment” exists for one reason and one reason only: so that when unpopular decisions get announced, the powers that be can deflect any and all criticism with the response “But we had a public comment period!”

Dorothy June 11, 2014 at 7:27 PM

Public comment is required by law I believe. Doesn’t mean it changes anything. And the various media wonders why people don’t get involved more.

Most public meeting times are set for when most people are either at work or on the commute to home. Since those under 18 don’t count that leaves it up to retired and disabled people to be the “public.” Many of the retired and disabled have other things to deal with.

Big Al June 11, 2014 at 7:29 PM

Made in china! again… I’ve got some beach front property at Mono lake for sale.

Justin June 11, 2014 at 7:59 PM

Not so fast Big Al #3

Will the cars be “made in America” creating U.S. jobs?

A: Yes, Federal contracting provisions prohibit BART from placing any requirements on where in the U.S. assembly takes place or parts are manufactured, however final assembly of the car will take place in the United States and the cars will contain at least 2/3 American manufactured components, including the propulsion system, the brakes, the raw aluminum used for the body, and much of the electrical wiring.
– See more at:

Anon June 12, 2014 at 4:30 AM

Get rid of the worthless BART cops, replace them with actual cops.

Aspirin June 12, 2014 at 9:46 AM

BART track gauge doesn’t match any other track gauge in the country, so it is not possible, say, to run a train from Fresno to downtown SF. This design was a mistake when virtually every rail system in the USA runs on a standard track gauge. Another fault with BART equipment is the wear on the track, and on car wheels caused by the “washboard” wear pattern visible on the top of the rails. This is due to all train wheels being the same diameter and the wheel treads not being tapered. This causes destructive vibrations and a lot of noise on curves which can be heard blocks away from BART tracks. Periodically, smoothing of the rails is required which is done by grinding. Commercial railroads do not have this problem because different diameter wheels are used on locomotives and rolling stock.

RunDogRun June 12, 2014 at 10:01 AM

Loose the lime green.

PrimaryTime June 12, 2014 at 9:09 PM

Yes! That green is just
flat out offensive!

concord June 12, 2014 at 10:18 PM

How can you have 4.6 fewer seats per car. Is the .6 a half of a seat?

concord June 12, 2014 at 10:23 PM

Can’t wait for BART to spend another $19 million dollars on a wasted control system. BART makes all these promises they never keep. The best thing we had was train service every 15 minutes and then the economy and BART service has sucked ever since. BART spends all its money in every other county but Contra Costa. I feel so ripped off by BART’s pathetic, undependable service. Things haven’t gotten any better since the worker strike started yet BART Management gives themselves 3.7% raises. Why can’t passengers have 3.7% better service if BART Management gets a 3.7% raise. BART passengers haven’t had a raise in service since 2008!!!!!!! I’m so sick of all the psychos in the stations too and thefts and medical emergencies and just general poor management in absolutely DISGUSTINGLY DIRTY conditions for $300.00 a month commuting fees that don’t count parking.

concord June 12, 2014 at 10:24 PM

They chose that green because then you can’t see the homeless bile barf or their poo on the seats.

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