SAN FRANCISCO: BART's Board of Directors (BOD) are to vote on Thursday in relation to two major design problems for the transit operator's proposed new carriages.
The BOD will hear results of public input on their 'Fleet of the Future' following public promotion of the trains across the Bay Area last month.
The two main issues that will be put to a vote are inclusion of bike racks and the controversial floor-to-ceiling poles.
More than 17,000 visitors attended the organized, public outreach events across the Bay Area, where they could tour the new car and ask questions and fill out a special survey.
BART say that the feedback was overwhelmingly positive. However, at the grand reveal at Justin Herman Plaza, mypurplechair.com met with some people who were unhappy with what they saw as restricted access with the new design.
“This latest customer survey gives us the feedback we need to make final refinements to the design before assembly of the train cars begins,” said Aaron Weinstein, Chief Marketing Officer.
Refinements from the latest round of customer feedback include adding armrests on seats next to doors, increasing the number of hanging straps for standing passengers and lowering the height of the intercom to make it more accessible for people in wheelchairs.
Joe Keller, President of the BOD said he expects the new cars to eradicate current problems with overcrowding.
“The first 100 of the new cars is set to roll out in 2017, with more to come in each of several years thereafter. That will allow BART to lengthen trains that are currently shorter than the 10-car limit. And eventually, after a companion project to upgrade the train control system, BART will also be able to run more trains, more frequently.”
BART's public unveiling last month did not excite some groups with disabilities.
One of the main concerns expressed by disability groups was the inclusion of a central, floor-to-ceiling pole in all carriages. BART said that while the new pole design proved popular with seniors and people with balance or mobility issues, many people who use wheelchairs or are blind gave low ratings to the pole.
“We’re looking for a solution that best meets everyone’s needs," said Chief Marketing Officer, Aaron Weinstein.
Jessie Lorenze, spokesperson for Independent Living Resource Center, told mypurplechair.com that people with disabilities have a right to move freely on public transportation.
"The pole design will see people with disabilities often not being able to board trains, and when they are able, having to apologize and board with less dignity than in the current model," Jessie said.
BART's BOD are to consider several alternatives to strike a balance that meets everyone’s needs:
On the bike rack issue, there are also three options put forward by BART staff:
Alternative A puts one bike rack on all cars (as seen in the train model).
Alternative B puts one rack in non-cab cars only.
Alternative C removes bike racks altogether.
The staff recommendation to the Board is Alternative A.
After the Board vote, the design phase ends, and the manufacturer will begin assembling pilot cars for safety and reliability testing in 2015. It's expected that general production will follow with more than 100 new cars going into service each year beginning in 2017.
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