BART Carpets Stink -- and BART Management Agrees

Shag on...
When it comes to BART, safety or the lack thereof seems to dominate dialogue in the press. But what's likely more of a nuisance -- and certainly a greater health hazard -- is the stained, soaked, and soiled carpeting on the train cars.

An out-of-towner recently asked SF Weekly, why does even BART have carpeting?

Good question.

According to Linton Johnson, chief spokesman for BART, carpeting and padded seats were promised to riders back when the trains were built in the 1960s. At that time BART ridership was just a trickle, and so the agency was justified in delivering a luxury like carpet on a train.

But fast-forwarding four decades, BART now carries 350,000-plus riders a day -- and carpeting on the train cars seems about as sanitary as a trip to the port-o-potty.

Johnson admits the carpeting is "pretty beat up." And that's putting it mildly. Riders have for a long time lamented the state of the rancid trains. In a 2006 satisfaction survey, BART riders were pretty clear that they wanted cleaner and tidier trains. After that, BART approved money to rip out the nasty carpeting and replace it will composite flooring, which is cheaper, easier to clean and lasts much longer than carpeting. Not to mention, it's much more popular among riders. A full eight out of 10 riders polled preferred the composite floors to carpeting. This is a surprise. We'd like to meet those two people.

Composite floors also have a hidden benefit: "It makes you think we have new cars," Johnson added.

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