(Bay City News) BART passengers will get a chance to view and comment on the transit agency’s future fleet of train cars at the MacArthur station in Oakland over the next four days.
BART directors voted in 2012 to spend nearly $900 million to buy 410 new train cars to begin replacing its existing fleet of cars, which it says are the oldest in the nation, with the average train car more than 30 years old and many more than 40 years old.
The new cars are scheduled to go into service in 2017 but the transit agency says it has secured funding to build up to 775 new cars and would like to increase that total to 1,000 by 2023 so it can increase the total number of seats by 45 percent to better serve its growing passenger load.
The new train cars will have state-of-the-art digital information screens, vinyl seat covers, bike racks, more handholds and other features. A full-size mockup of two-thirds of a train car interior is set up for public viewing on the east side of the concourse level at the MacArthur station from 2 p.m. to 7 p.m. Tuesday through Friday.
Paul Oversier, BART’s assistant general manager for operations, said the new cars are still in the preliminary design phase so customers will have a chance to view the model car and comment on the design before it’s finalized next year.
The idea is to give the public a sense of the proportions of the new cars, possible configurations of the seats and placement of bike racks and handholds, Oversier said.
BART officials said nearly 10,000 people have given feedback on the new cars so far by attending other events, taking online surveys or emailing comments.
The new cars will have vinyl covers that make them easy to keep clean and also will feature comfortable bottom cushions made from silicone, according to BART spokesman Jim Allison.
Oversier said BART will begin testing a prototype of the new train cars in 2015 for safety.
“There will be a one-year test period to make sure they’re reliable because we hope that they will carry passengers for a long time,” Oversier said.
He added, “You can’t turn on the production line for the new cars until you make sure the manufacturer got it right.”
Each of the new cars will have six digital screens, one next to each door, which will display a real time system map and other helpful information, Oversier said.
People who are already traveling on BART through the MacArthur station this week can view the model and get back on a train without going through faregates.
For people who aren’t riding BART but want to tour the model, there will be a stamp system allowing them inside the paid station area for the purpose of viewing the model.