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New BART floor…

New BART floor

…in a new BART car.

I take BART (Bay Area Rapid Transit) almost every weekday. BART is the third stage in my four-stage commute to work, and is the second-most reliable mode that I use (the other three are: walking; bicycling; and Amtrak). There are some good things about BART (90% on time; relatively low-cost for short trips) and some bad things about BART (10% not on time; longer trips disproportionally expensive), but there are two things, for me, that completely remove any pleasure from using Bay Area Rapid Transit.

For one, the trains are as loud as blazes. Above ground, on a straightaway, at low speed, a BART train sounds like a dozen cats trying to keep themselves from sliding down a steep, thousand-foot, metal cliff wall. Below ground, on a curve, at high speed, it sounds like a hundred waterskiers with metal skis trying to make a hard turn on the surface of a metal lake. In a word, BART screeches. A lot.

But, the main thing that bugs me about BART? It stinks. Literally.

Kudos to the BART car designers who optimistically put upholstered seating and carpeted floors in their train plans. They must have imagined a utopian world where passengers did not include people who sweat, or who bring in and spill food, or who are drunk, incontinent, or both. At the very least, most BART cars are infused with 30 years of miscellaneous passenger funk, and have a mustiness that no amount of air conditioning can overcome. It is an odor that causes me to play a game called “search the train for the car that smells the least.”

This brings us back to the photo above. The picture was taken on a refurbished BART car. The heating and cooling systems have been upgraded. The seats have been re-padded and re-upholstered. And, most importantly, the flooring has been replaced with an honest-to-goodness hard surface. I don’t know if it’s rubberized or plasticized or what. What I do know is that it isn’t carpeted. And so, hundreds of square feet of green, smell-storing material are removed from the BART car ecosystem.

Ahhh, new (BART) car smell.

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