Glitch with private contractor delays expanded BART seat replacement project 

click to enlarge The vinyl seats being installed on BART have generate a positive response from riders. - S.F. EXAMINER FILE PHOTO
  • S.F. Examiner File Photo
  • The vinyl seats being installed on BART have generate a positive response from riders.

BART passengers will have to wait a little longer than expected to see more vinyl seats on trains.

In 2011, the agency started replacing its crusty and stained wool covers, much to the delight of riders. That $1.9 million project called for BART to replace the seats in 300 of its 669 train cars. So far, 250 have been outfitted with the new vinyl material and the agency is outfitting two cars a week to meet the 300 goal.

Because of the positive reception from passengers, BART was poised to expand the seat replacement program to include 139 more cars. The agency’s board of directors was scheduled to vote today on a $1.05 million contract to carry out that supplemental work, which would have resulted in 439 train cars having the new seats.

However, National Transit Interiors, the private contractor that submitted the winning bid for the work, unexpectedly informed BART that it would not be able to carry out the seat replacement project because of “problems with funding.”

BART allows its private partners a five-day grace period to back out of contract agreements, but NTI did not inform the agency of its funding problems until seven days after the deal was tentatively awarded. As a result of its policies, the agency couldn’t award the contract to the second-lowest bidder. Instead, it must restart the procurement process, said BART spokeswoman Alicia Trost.

That process will mean the additional seat replacements cannot begin for several months, said Trost. If the contract were approved today, the replacement work would have begun in mere weeks.

Trost said the agency did not receive any additional explanation from NTI on why it was unable to fulfill its contract obligations. The phone number listed on the Fremont-based company’s website was

A survey carried out last year by the agency found that 74 percent of BART passengers preferred the vinyl seats.

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Will Reisman

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Tuesday, Oct 25, 2016


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