BART will launch a car reconfiguration pilot program on January 15, 2016. BART’s record ridership means trains are more crowded than ever despite increased efforts to lengthen trains and dispatch every available train car during peak commute hours.
In an effort to find creative solutions to ease passenger crowding during the commute, we are taking a limited number of train cars on each line and removing seats so they can carry more customers. This pilot program, if successful, could be expanded to more cars as a temporary measure to ease crowding as we await the arrival of the first batch of new train cars in 2017.
We plan to test 20 cars with four cars running on each of the five lines. We will be replacing seven double seats with single seats to open up more space for people to ride. The wider aisle will also have the benefit of being able to accommodate luggage as more of our riders are taking trips to both SFO and OAK. Standees will still have handholds to help provide stability.
We will be surveying riders to get their input on the new configuration. This rider feedback will help us decide whether or not more cars will be modified. As soon as BART gathers enough data we will determine the appropriate course of action such as expanding the program or consider experimenting with alternate seating configurations.
These test cars will have signage to encourage feedback through an online survey. This pilot program is just another step in trying to do everything within our power to ease crowding while we wait for our new train cars to arrive. Steps include dedicating funds in our budget to add more repair and maintenance crews and shifts to help get every available train into service. Our skilled workers even resurrected multiple cars that were once considered beyond repair. Last fall we implemented a schedule change meant to help address crowding on our busiest lines. This schedule change included “limited service” morning trips in the reverse commute, an extra hour of direct service, and the end of the three car train, among other improvements.