Metro is pondering the design of its next rail cars. Will the 7000 series have cloth seats? Carpeting? More space to stand? It’s an interesting exercise that Washington Post readers have weighed in on.

Now Transportation Nation reports that San Francisco’s Bay Area Rapid Transit District (BART) is considering some design questions of its own.

BART trains feature the same style of seating that’s in Metro’s cars, except they are covered in cloth (they also have carpeting). BART, which opened in 1972, is wondering what type of material it should consider next. Concern about cleanliness is one of the prime issues being weighed.

A recent report by the Bay Citizen raised the issue that bacteria may be thriving in the seats of San Francisco’s subway cars — and backed it up with tests conducted by a supervisor from the biology lab at San Francisco State University.

If you’ve ever ridden a BART train from the San Francisco airport to Market Street, it’s enough to make you think twice about sitting down — or touching anything. BART, which hopes to take delivery of new rail cars in six years, has deployed a “mobile seat lab” to try out some new options and to get passenger feedback, according to the Transportation Nation report.

Meanwhile Metro has pondered switching to velour or some other fabric from the current vinyl covers. There are even some 6000 series cars traveling the transit network with new seat covers and different flooring materials.

Metro signed a contract last year with Kawasaki to build its next generation of rail cars, which is expected to debut in 2013. Metro has said it expects to begin focus groups with riders on the design soon.

Meanwhile, you can weigh in on our Metro redesign page. Make suggestions. Upload your own photos and sketches. Just have fun with it.

Related links

Redesigning the Metro rail car