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May 24, 2011 > BART begins analyzing feedback on Fleet of Future

BART begins analyzing feedback on Fleet of Future

Submitted By BART

The calendar is being set for all of BART's mobile seat labs, where riders give feedback on what they would like to see in the Fleet of the Future. The seat labs are just one of many ways BART is gathering public input on the project to replace its entire fleet of passenger trains, the oldest in the nation.

BART has also received approximately 1,000 public comments by email already received from the public. The seat labs have collected around 500 surveys, with six more labs still to come. See for the schedule of meetings.

The feedback will be shared with industrial designers for three renderings that incorporate the most-requested features and try to balance trade-offs for the best possible interior design. Later this summer, there will be another round of public input on those three models. Based on that public input, BART will give design guidance to the company that ultimately will build the train cars. Five builders have submitted proposals for the job.

So far, the seat labs have elicited feedback from diverse groups of riders. At the May 1 seat lab at Fruitvale BART Station, Oakland, daily BART commuters and occasional riders gave their feedback. When the lab visited San Francisco State University (SFSU) on May 11, BART heard from students, who rely on transit to get to school, and others in the community.

"I thought it was very good," said David Abercrombie who is not affiliated with SFSU but heard about the seat lab and, as a regular BART rider from San Francisco, decided to attend. "I enjoyed the chance to participate and be a guinea pig." Abercrombie said the seat lab prompted him to think about the challenges involved in designing new train cars. "I was undecided on seat width [currently, the most generous nationally] but seats should not become too narrow because people seem to be getting wider. You'll have to balance it with what the designers say," he added, acknowledging the public might have requests that are unfeasible from an economic or engineering perspective.

Earlier versions of the seat lab sought comments from groups of riders with specific concerns, such as riders with disabilities, senior citizens and bicyclists. One seat lab was conducted with a control group of randomly selected riders for additional research data to supplement that from public meetings. Results of that control group will be made public to indicate how the research is going.

"The Fleet of the Future will belong to the public," BART Chief Marketing Officer Aaron Weinstein said to explain the emphasis on public input. "It must be designed to meet BART riders' needs. The information from seat lab participants will help us better understand those needs. For example, BART hears that customers want digital screens showing the next stop and other passenger information, so BART will work to include this feature in the Fleet of the Future."

As for seat surfaces, early public feedback shows a slightly higher ranking for cleanliness than comfort though respondents say both are important. That does not commit BART to any specific seat covering; however; instead it creates a mandate to find a surface that can be kept clean but without completely sacrificing comfort. Any surface material has to meet stringent standards for fire, smoke and toxicity.

Early input seems to suggest that riders want: adequate seating, especially for those on longer journeys; seats that can be kept cleaner; appropriate space for bikes so that cyclists can be more comfortable while keeping bikes clear of passengers; a quieter ride; modern passenger information and enhanced accessibility for people with disabilities.

"Please recognize that BART's train cars need to be designed to accommodate all of us. We come in all sizes, ages, states of health, speak many languages and use different means of transportation. It must be possible to design train cars that can comfortably meet everyone's needs" is an earnest plea received by email from someone identified as a daily BART rider since 1979. This is the difficult challenge BART will try to meet with the Fleet of the Future project.

For more information, to check the seat lab schedule, sign up for updates or submit feedback, visit View a BARTtv video about the interactive seat lab at

Tuesday, May 24
11 a.m. - 3 p.m.
Los Medanos Community College Gymnasium
2700 East Leland Road, Pittsburg

Wednesday, June 1
2 p.m. - 6 p.m.
Union City BART Station
Center Access Road, Union City

Monday, June 13
3 p.m. - 6:30 p.m.
Dublin/Pleasanton BART Station
5801 Owens Drive, Pleasanton

Tuesday, June 14
2:30 p.m. - 6:30 p.m.
Pleasant Hill/Contra Costa Centre BART Station
Plaza next to fountain
1365 Treat Boulevard, Walnut Creek

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