BART, the San Francisco Bay Area’s underground transportation system, looks beyond scuzzy. Up until recently, all the train cars were covered in old carpet. The cloth seats, in place since BART launched in the 1970s, feature mold, fecal matter, and MRSA. All of which is why daily BART riders are waiting with baited breath for the so-called Fleet of the Future–a series of 1,000 new train cars that will be free of hideous green cloth and contain new amenities.
BART recently provided an update of what the new fleet will look like, and it’s certainly heartening. The cloth will be replaced with a wipeable fabric on padded modular seats that have an inch more legroom; a better cooling system will send air to the ceiling so riders who are standing up don’t wither in the heat; bike racks will be in every car; new “micro-plugs” on the doors will keep the (very loud) trains quieter, and digital route screens and automated announcements will make the whole experience much less confusing for tourists.
The first trains will go into service in 2017, and the whole fleet should be ready to go by 2023. In total, the train cars have 40% more seats than available today. BART will need all the extra seats it can get: by 2040, the Bay Area is projected to grow by 2.1 million people.