Those nasty wool seats on BART that seem to host more germs than passengers are on their way to being phased off the agency’s trains.
New vinyl covers will replace the wool fabric seats in 100 of BART’s train cars, with the replacement process set to be completed by next July. BART officials say the vinyl seats will look better, stay cleaner and cost less to maintain.
The agency will gather feedback from its customers on the new covers, and if opinions on the updated look are positive, the agency will move to replace the seats in 100 more cars the following year. BART has 669 train cars.
Along with repelling stains and smelling fresher, the vinyl seats will come at a bargain to the agency. Outfitting an entire train car with the vinyl fabric will cost about $9,000 — significantly less than the $15,500 it costs to replace the wool seats. The vinyl covers also have a longer life expectancy — they won’t need to be changed out until 10 years from now. The wool seats were supposed to be replaced every three years, although BART officials conceded they rarely stuck to that schedule.
On Thursday, the agency’s board of directors approved a $1.9 million contract to replace the wool seats.
“With all due respect to our staff, what our passengers see when they board our trains are these nasty seats,” BART board Joel Keller said. “These seats have long since outlived their usefulness.”