BMW DesignworksUSA To Upgrade San Francisco’s BART Trains

by , 07/28/11

bart, metro inspiro, siemens, bmw designworksusa, bmw, public transportation, san francisco, sustainable design, green design

Riders of San Francisco’s BART (Bay Area Rapid Transit) can tell by the carpeting, plush upholstery, and decades-old ketchup stains that the same cars have been running down the tracks since 1973. The fleet is in dire need of a makeover, and BART has found just the designers to take on the challenge. DesignworksUSA, a design arm of BMW, recently signed a $500,000 contract to upgrade BART’s outdated aesthetics.

bart, metro inspiro, siemens, bmw designworksusa, bmw, public transportation, san francisco, sustainable design, green design

Potential changes include easy-to-clean plastic seats, wider aisles for faster boarding times, and bike corrals. BART is asking for public input on everything from seat style and handicap accommodations to the types of information included in on-board displays. Of the thousand surveys already received, riders have indicated their willingness to give up a couple inches of leg room and seat width to ensure a more pleasant transportation experience.

This isn’t DesignworksUSA‘s first foray into public transportation. The design group also recently signed a contract with Siemens to design the company’s Metro Inspiro subway cars, which will be used on Warsaw’s public transit system. If this next generation of BART cars turn out anything like the Metro Inspiro (pictured above), Bay Area citizens may be more likely to leave their cars at home. BMW’s “Fleet of the Future” will be introduced in 2017.



Photos courtesy of BMW DesignworksUSA

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  1. lazyreader July 28, 2011 at 4:44 pm

    BMW, do we get leather seats or other stuff. Gold plated handrails?
    The city is gonna spend 700 million dollars to acquire new trains that they won’t fully receive until 2024. You need rail, rail cars, right of way, lights, signs, stops, overhead wires, switching stations, power converters and substations so you don’t overload anything. Then of course funnel vast sums of money into the unions. The advantage of a diesel bus is it’s power supply is readily available anywhere it goes. If BART spend 700 million on buses, they could have all the transit they need and acquire all those buses in just a year or two.

    There are only 9 cities in America that have populations of a million or more. A few are close but typically less than 600,000. With nearly 200 cities with less than half a million people, some of which are gambling with rail transit schemes of their own and thousands of small towns and cities with less than 50 thousand. Big box (high occupancy) transit is not practical for most cities. You start with the fact you’re running transit all day long when it’s mainly used during rush hour. The idea of transit being energy efficient only applies if you can fill a majority of it’s seating, but you often don’t especially newer transit systems in those moderate sized cities but it costs as much to build that system in small cities than it does in big cities and it uses the same amount of energy to move an nearly empty train than a fully occupied one. The average light rail car is never more than one-sixth full to capacity. And now you taking transit to pick up people far out from distant suburbs so it doesn’t fill up until you’ve reached the city center and if you have to switch train lines well that’s more energy your using. That’s why you don’t want high occupancy transit, you want low occupancy transit that offers direct point to point transportation. Overall it makes no sense to have large transit systems anymore especially when we can have small box transit (buses, shuttles, jitneys and minibuses) that takes groups of people where they want/need to go specifically then home again and simply shut down when rush hour ends while using those small road vehicles to pickup the strays during odd hours of the day. Wait until it’s needed then go out and do it again. You don’t have to burrow huge amounts of capital from the feds or raise bonds in the millions or billions, requires very little construction if at all and saves energy overall by not having large mostly empty vehicles going out through most of the day.

    Maybe by canceling it’s ambitious multi billion dollar BART to Silicon Valley and San Jose projects. Free up billions that could be used to operate and actually improve bus service by easily acquiring new buses that they could use immediately in the Bay Area.

    Bear in mind that BART carries only a very small percentage of commuters in the Bay Area, 5 percent roughly. Yet it steals almost half of Bay Area transportation money, by some accounts. Mass transit is supposed to be a cost-effective commuting option for lower income people. Much of that money is taken from the money appropriated and payed for by drivers through gas taxes. In fact most of the money for the transportation bills comes out of highway and road user fees and we wonder why our roads are in bad shape.

    For years people have always talked about highways, bridges and tunnels being poorly maintained or at risk of collapse .People on this site might use examples in their towns as justification. Except however the number of structurally deficient bridges & roads has been declining for years. The I-35 bridge collapse though sad and tragic was caused be design flaw, not terrible maintenance. The bridge that replaced it was built ahead of schedule on under budget. The bridge is equipped with anti-icing sprayers avoiding the need for salt which we all know is highly corrosive to concrete and steel. And was constructed with high-strength concrete with little exposed steel. There are sensors to measure bridge conditions. It’s innovative and actually pleasing to look at. Meanwhile transit is billions in the red for skipped maintenance with money it doesn’t have nor possibly obtain in a short timeframe even if they doubled fares which only makes it less attractive. You see big transit construction in small cities of less than a million people when big cities are cutting transit services by closing whole lines and stations.

  2. xsimpletunx July 28, 2011 at 4:19 pm

    Perhaps they can apply the same methodology to Washington, DC’s metro system since its the same as the BART. Same dysfunctional layout and design with carpet to maintain. The main difference is likely that the BART isn’t bankrupt every other year.

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