BART is teaming up with a BMW subsidiary to help design its new fleet of train cars.
The transit agency is paying $500,000 to DesignworksUSA to draw up blueprints of what future BART trains may look like.
The BART board is scheduled to get the first renderings at its Aug. 11 meeting. The drawings will include one exterior model and three interior alternatives.
The agency will then seek public input on the drawings.
Eventually, BART will award a $3.4 billion contract to another firm to manufacture 800 to 1,000 new transit cars.
Those trains are expected to hit the tracks later this decade.
“BART is excited to announce its partnership with BMW Group
DesignworksUSA,” said BART Board President Bob Franklin. “With 75 percent of our customers having the option of choosing another way to get to their destinations, we figured what better way to lure the drivers of the future onto BART than to hire the company who knows motorists best. That's why we turned to DesignworksUSA, which has been instrumental in the design of many BMW vehicles presently on the road, to design a BART car that's modern, elegant, comfortable yet practical, economical and clean so that even more people will choose BART."
During the past couple months, BART took a mobile seat lab to all nine of its districts to allow people to say what kind of seat material, width and height they would prefer.
BART spokesman Jim Allison said they received 2,200 responses during the seat lab tour.
He said 75 percent of those questioned would accept a seat width of 20 inches. That's two inches narrower than current BART seats. The narrower seats would allow for wider aisles.
Those surveyed were split over whether or not to have armrests on the seats.
Those questioned also said seat cleanliness was more important to them than comfort.
BART officials have said the new cars are necessary because the transit agency has the oldest fleet of vehicles in the country. Some have been around since BART opened in 1972.