BART board approves funding for new vinyl seats

Many BART seats show signs of wear and tear.
Kevin Foote/Staff
Many BART seats show signs of wear and tear.

A portion of the wool seats in BART cars — many of which are stained, ugly and smell unpleasant — will be replaced with more sanitary and aesthetically pleasing cushioned vinyl seats in the upcoming months.

As part of ongoing interior upgrades, the BART Board of Directors voted Thursday to fund the implementation of the new seats in 100 cars beginning in April next year, according to a presentation made to the board. The total cost for buying the materials for the 200 cars is about $1,945,234, which will come out of BART’s operating budget, according to Tamar Allen, BART’s chief mechanical officer. She estimated that it would cost $500 of labor per car to install the materials.

It was concluded that vinyl — which would cost $9,000 per car and less than $100,000 a year to clean — would offer the best value, life and maintenance cost, according to the presentation.

“The cost would be worth it if the vinyl seats meant there would be better maintenance,” said UC Berkeley sophomore Julia Dendle.

If surveyed customers like the new seats, more will be installed in an additional 100 older cars, according to Allen.

“The seats are brimming with urine and other fluids,” said UC Berkeley freshman Tejomay Gadgil. “I don’t understand why they weren’t completely plastic when they were built.”

In a series of seat lab studies conducted by BART in May, 62 percent of customers expressed a preference for vinyl and 81 percent rated cleanliness as very important, according to the presentation.

Customers should not see any service interruptions and will see the new installations throughout the system, Allen said.

Of the 100 cars that are having their seats replaced, 60 will be older, hard-surface floor cars, 20 will receive new floors and interior expansion — which involves removing seats and creating more open space for bicycles — in addition to the vinyl seats and the remaining 20 will receive new carpets in addition to the new seats, Allen said.

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  • Another 2 million wasted on welfare.

    • Sean P.

      Welfare? Sure BART is a public service, but it’s not free. We pay to ride, and I don’t think it’s outrageous for us to expect them to maintain a minimum level of cleanliness (which historically hasn’t been the case).

    • guest

      seriously? if you compare bart with ac transit, bart serves a more predominantly white middle class demographic. ac transit is the transportation service that most people in the lower class use. i know people from oakland who really wanted to go to sf community college, but decided to go to bcc instead because they would rather get a bus pass or pay $2 a ride than to pay $4 for bart. 

  • Alex Lysso

    I sense a dichotomy in the way Bay Area residents view themselves and the world around them.

    Not meaning to be prejudicial here with my comment to you but are you not more concerned with devoting energy to things that would eliminate the causes for the things you say culturally were intended as well as the range of populations who now utilze said rapid transit.

    When I first saw the BART myself personally I thought it was insane. A rail public rapid transit system with CLOTH seats?

    Doing it wrong. I never saw cloth seats on a New York City subway car seat. The BART map and a NYC subway map cover approximately the same area.

    Your anger at the Occupy movement or people descended from a different  population as you did makes me feel you see much through a veil of preconceived notions based on a system that failed you and many others, yet you cannot let it go andinstead  point your anger at the failure at anything you could remotely justify fosucing your anger on.

    What deserves anger is injustice and divisive practises that allow an individual to ignore another who is suffering, until it is your turn to suffer.

    Then it will matter more to you.

  • [“The seats are brimming with urine and other fluids,” said UC Berkeley
    freshman Tejomay Gadgil. “I don’t understand why they weren’t completely
    plastic when they were built.”]

    Two reasons. First of all, natural fabrics are far more comfortable than either hard plastic or vinyl, which does not “breathe” and can become very unpleasant on a warm day. Secondly, back around 1970 there were STILL some expectations that people using public transportation would be expected to maintain some level of deportment and civility. Even as screwy as SF was back in the late 1960’s (I remember it as an elementary school kid), nobody dreamed that some day at homeless bums, unkempt gutter-punk types, and low-IQ males incapable of pulling up their pants would be regular patrons of a transit system designed to bring middle-class suburbanites into the city for work and recreation.  Nobody imagined either the loony liberal disease known as Political Correctness would prevent law enforcement and transit officials from enforcing the most basic standards of human conduct in public places. They couldn’t imagine that 40 years later that it would be viewed as “racist” or “insensitive” in SF to kick unwashed squatting transients (both the Occupy and traditional homeless types) out of stations, or insist that idiots pull up their pants and not let their underwear contact the seat surface. We may have moved forward technologically in the last 40 years, but in terms of basic civilization, we’re quickly headed back to the Stone Age.

    • Insert Name

      Political correctness is hardly a looney liberal disease. People on both sides of the political spectrum are offended by different things. And do you have any examples of how political correctness prevents “law enforcement and transit officials from enforcing the most basic standards of human conduct in public places”?