BART (Bay Area Rapid Transit) is getting a much needed remodel after 40 years of service. The typical Bay Area commuter’s relationship with BART has always been strained. A typical BART ride, much like that on any big city's public transit system, involves outdated design, crowded cars, maintenance delays, and unsightly seating tainted from someone else's Friday night in the city. The migraine-inducing ride from Oakland to San Francisco under the Bay might be unique to BART, but hopefully this will all change in the future. BART is looking to replace its entire fleet with brand new cars. Nearly 35,000 BART users were invited to view prototypes of the new cars and give an honest critique of the improved design. After numerous surveys and input from users, the new fleet of BART cars will include:
- Micro-plug door technology to seal out noise. Your ride under the bay will no longer sound like a roller-coaster ride.
- A cooler air system to distribute air on those hot days.
- Comfortable padded seats with vinyl for easy clean up.
- Digital route maps placed throughout cars.
- Next-stop information available through both automated announcements and digital screens.
- Designated bike racks in every car, each with bike stabilization.
One fact all BART regulars know to be true is the struggle to find seating. During rush hours, you are packed into a car like sardines, being held up by a shifting mass of people as you are whipped through the city and under the bay. If the goal of 1,000 train cars can be reached, the new fleet with have 54,000 seats, in comparison to only 39,220 seats in the current fleet. That amounts to 38% more seating, which will hopefully result in fewer glares directed towards the bicyclist pushing his or her way onto a crowded car. With the significant increase in seating, more people will be able to ride BART, potentially leading to more people leaving their cars at home. It was estimated that a single commuter using BART during weekdays instead of a car saves over 300 gallons of gas and 5,868 pounds of CO₂ per year.
BART’s 100% electric trains will continue to be the most sustainable form of public transit in the Bay Area. Through the conservation of materials, additional detail in the new cars will make the system even more sustainable than it was before. Since the cars need to be extremely lightweight to accommodate infrastructure, the majority of the train exterior will be constructed out of aluminum. Aluminum is an abundant, lightweight material with the ability to reflect light and heat off its surface, keeping the train cars cooler and therefore using less energy in a lifecycle. A white roof will also be incorporated to reflect heat from the car, decreasing the amount of energy used by its cooling systems.
The vinyl seats will not only address the issue of cleanliness, but they will factor into the sustainability equation by being almost 50% lighter in comparison to the current seats. This significantly lightens the weight of each car, therefore resulting in a more sustainable, fuel-efficient design. The interiors will even have Marmoleum flooring made of natural raw materials. These are naturally anti-microbial, providing a healthier environment for passengers. The new fleet will begin filtering into the BART system by 2017, with the last of the cars arriving in 2023. Until then, regular commuters will have to anxiously await the arrival of the new design.
What are your thoughts on the new BART design and integrated sustainability? Is the future of BART similar to public transit in your city?
Credits: Images by Lauren Golightly. Data linked to sources.