S.F. Examiner file photoRiders say they prefer the new vinyl seats that have been installed on some BART trains over the old fabric ones

BART riders prefer new vinyl seats to old fabric ones, survey finds

File this one under the “no duh” department: BART passengers say the agency’s new train seats are better than the old, stain-ridden ones.

In March, BART installed new vinyl seat covers in 100 of its trains, replacing the fabric material that had become notorious for soaking up unseemly splotches and odors. The change, unsurprisingly, has been a big hit with riders.

BART recently polled 1,250 random passengers, and according to the study, 74 percent of those riders preferred the vinyl seats to the old fabric ones. Additionally, 93 percent of those surveyed rated the vinyl seats as “good” or “excellent.”

With those reassuring results in mind, the agency is planning on rolling out the vinyl seats in 50 more cars by the end of July. Another 50 should be installed by early next year, bringing the number of BART cars with new seats to 200. The agency currently has 669 total cars.

If customer feedback for the seats continues to be positive, an additional 100 cars will get the new fabric in the near future. Trains with the vinyl covers will have a decal on their exterior, alerting passengers of the new seats.

Installing the 200 new seats will cost BART $1.9 million. However, the agency projects to save $600,000 annually in dry cleaning costs.

wreisman@sfexaminer.com

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