BART unwraps future of transbay travel

BART riders got a first look this week of one of the transit agency’s new trains displayed at Justin Herman Plaza in San Francisco.

Dubbed the “Fleet of the Future,” the 775 new trains on order will replace aging trains that have been in service for an average of 30 years, said the transit agency.

New features inside the new BART trains include new doors to help riders with a less noisy ride, a new air conditioning system, and LCD screens displaying maps and trip information.

Better public announcement speakers inside and outside of the train are also featured, as is a third door for riders to get off faster and easier.

Seats will have lumbar support for riders and are covered with easy-to-clean fabric. The seats will also be color coded to let passengers which seats are preferred for seniors and disabled riders.

Bike riders will be able to park their bikes in the middle of train in racks to minimize interference of passengers getting off or boarding trains, the transit agency said.

BART Board President Joel Keller said in a statement that the transit agency is listening to its riders and understands the frustrations of the old BART trains:

“BART’s current fleet is the oldest on average of any major system in the nation. The aging fleet is a source of frustration to customers who have experienced delays due to mechanical issues that plague 40-year old trains.”

Environmentally-sensitive features aboard the new train include flooring made from almost entirely of raw materials, seats that are 74 percent recyclable and LED lighting, said BART officials.

Additionally, Two-thirds of BART’s power comes from clean hydro-electric and renewable sources.

Members of the Independent Resource Center of San Francisco led a protest near the new BART train. Executive Director Jessie Lorenz said there is a problem with a new pole placed near each door:

“BART under estimates the level of hostility who travel with mobility devices or people like me who ride with a service animal. People already don’t want to let me board when its crowded.”

The new poles for riders to hold on is near the space for wheelchair users. The transit agency said they moved the pole three inches away from the wheelchair access space.

Despite the move Lorenz said the riders who stand at the poles will stake out that space, leaving less room for disabled riders.

Ten trains will start arriving next year and be placed into service starting in 2017. The cost of 775 trains is $2.5 billion. Funds to pay for the new trains are from passenger fares, BART’s operating budget and federal and local grants through the Metropolitan Transportation Commission.

BART is currently displaying a model of its new train at several near several of its stations. The train will be on display Friday at West Oakland station from 2 to 7 p.m., and at Fremont station at the same times Monday.

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