BART's board of directors voted unanimously today to replace the much-reviled fabric seat covers in 100 train cars with cushioned vinyl covers that will be much less susceptible to stains and bacteria.
The public has long been clamoring for cleaner BART seats. The retro-fabulous fabric seats in BART trains are comfortable enough, but have some hygienic downsides to say the least. In March, the Bay Citizen found that "fecal and skin-borne bacteria resistant to antibiotics" teemed in the seats.
BART officials announced their intention to try out cleaner vinyl seats in September, but the board finally approved the proposal today. After a series of "seat labs" to elicit public comments on what they'd like to see on trains, BART has settled on a product called PreVail, made by the company Omnova.
"The fabric seats were considered a real attraction when BART began service in 1972, but we're now carrying 370,000 riders each weekday and those seats are getting much more use," BART General Manager Grace Crunican said in a statement. "This trial should give both customers and BART staff a chance to see if vinyl, cushioned seats strike a modern balance between cleanliness and comfort."
Seats in 100 cars will be replaced next spring, according to transit officials. If riders respond well, the contract with Omnova has an option to extend the covers to an additional hundred cars, bringing the total number of renovated train cars to 200.
Follow us on Twitter at @SFWeekly and @TheSnitchSF