San Francisco, CA

Locals wowed by delightfully scented shiny new San Francisco BART (Bay Area Rapid Transit) train cars and comfy seats

Karen Madej

A local who rode on one of the new trains said it even smelled cleaner. This evoked several stories from other folks of their sensory experiences of individual BART cars. One involved motion sickness induced vomiting and another had a migraine and didn't manage to get off before throwing up.

Regardless of passengers' personal stories, BART wants to welcome you aboard their fleet of the future. As of August 2, 2021, 282 cars had been received, 266 certified, and 219 in service. It currently has 23 new trains in service.

Some of the existing cars started their service 40 years ago! Despite their rehabilitation in the 90s, the original cars are nearing the end of their life cycle and need to be replaced with shiny new ones.

Did you know the Bay Area trains run the biggest and oldest fleet of train cars in the US?

The cars have an average age of 30 years and both the old rejuvenated and the newer cars will need replacing in the coming decade.

Older car systems became outdated and parts and raised maintenance costs, not to mention breakdowns causing delays. The first new ten-car train arrived in 2018. From then the new cars were delivered at a rate of 16 new cars per month. The original plan agreed was a total acceptance of 775 new train cars to be delivered by Spring 2023.

The BART Board of Directors all agreed to order up to 1,200 cars in November 2018. They also decided to continue using Bombardier. However, in January 2021, BART stopped accepting cars so that Bombardier would have time to make improvements to the reliability and availability of their cars. The BART rail car storage couldn't handle the amount of maintenance needed.

In conjunction with BART's new train cars, hundreds of new American assembly jobs have been created. Here locally, Bay Area jobs support the design, commissioning, warranty and other activities associated with the project.

Independent teams selected Bombardier after a year-long assessment process of testing 500 details of the three final bids.

New Features

Some locals discussed the importance of cloth seats for comfort. They agreed plastic seats were practical but not comfortable. One local BART user queried the use of cloth as it's not easy to clean. BART's comfortable new padded seats are easy to clean wipeable fabric. The seats also have lumbar support! The seats are also 74% sustainable thanks to their lightweight steel and aluminum elements.

Special micro-plug doors keep out noise and cooling systems will keep cars cooler by distributing cool air from the ceilings. Much needed on hot days when standing. Although, currently, locals report cars as half empty during peak commute times.

State-of-the-art new train doors will only open if someone is standing in front of them, thus saving heating and cooling energy!

To assist new arrivals and tourists in the Bay Area, BART has provided easy-to-use color-coded routes, and next stop information is provided via auto-announcements and digital screens.

One thing some locals say BART didn't get right was the bike racks. They preferred the original design.

Each bike area will have a horizontal leaning bar and strap that bicyclists can use to stabilize their bikes. 

The new style bike areas at either end of the train do provide more standing room and space for strollers but the average number of seats reduced from 54.6 to 50. And BART is working on exploring height and distance from the wall modifications to meet the old-style leaning bars on legacy cars.

New buffer zones have been added at each end of a car to meet required crash safety measures.

If you'd like a Sim World for trains, all you need to do is like the video below. Also, for all you trainspotters out there, you'll find lots of facts and figures about BART.

Just one commuter using BART each weekday instead of driving saves over 360 gallons of gas and 7,000 pounds of CO2 in a year.

Sources

Why New Cars

Delivery Plan

Sustainability

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Passionate about climate change and living a debt-free, sustainable life. Determined to learn how to and build an adobe house or Earthship. The goal is to live off-grid and off the land. Energy for heat and to power electrical devices and appliances will use solar, wind, and hydro-powered electricity. No trees will die to make my home.

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