We’ve had some inquiries from customers curious about a couple of new features they’ve noticed on BART cars marked as "demonstration cars." They've asked about the handstraps hanging from the bars at the top of the cars and about the large blue "Bike Space" decals marking a priority space for bikes.
Here’s the scoop:
In a long-range project still in the planning stages, BART intends to replace its entire existing fleet of about 700 rail cars, many of which have been running since service began in 1972. (Read more about the new rail car project.) But even in the shorter term, BART undertakes various projects to improve existing cars to better meet rider needs. One of those is an interior modification project – and that’s where the handstraps and bike spaces come from.
The project involves modifications that are planned for all 80 of the newest group of railcars, known as "C2" cars. (Read more details about all of BART’s existing rail car types.) So far, 40 cars have been completed with a number of features that include putting in a hard-floor surface instead of carpet, installing handstraps and opening up space for bikes (marked with a new decal), wheelchairs, luggage and strollers. Public input has been gathered through a survey and through posters on trains encouraging feedback, and it’s been largely positive. Shorter people especially have told us they appreciate having the straps to hang on to for balance on a crowded train. (Handstraps and/or hard-floor surfaces have also been added on some of the older model cars.)
The objectives of the interior modification project are to improve passenger flow and circulation, reduce main aisle congestion, create a defined space for multi-purpose use (such as bikes, luggage, strollers, etc.), and facilitate more efficient use of space within the cars.
The interior modification project was developed after two other car tests were completed where BART obtained feedback from passenger surveys and focus groups, incorporating input from BART’s Accessibility Task Force, the disabled community and BART’s Bicycle Advisory Task Force. BART plans to modify its other cars ("A2," "B2," and "C1") over the next several years, using federal stimulus funds.
You can check out some rider-shared photographs of the handstraps and bike spaces on our blog.
What has your experience been like hanging on to the straps or using the bike space? You can tell us what you think by sending an email to email@example.com.