We recently shared photos and renderings — see above — of the HR4000 heavy rail cars that will be arriving next year and one of the top questions, as expected, was in regards to seating. The new rail cars have more bench seats, or side-facing seats, which many of you on social had opinions about. 🙂
So much better than the other kind with the rows of seats and narrow aisles👍
— Breda (@breda_lund) November 26, 2019
The straps only work for people with a hand to spare, & ok to stand for long periods. Elderly; infirm; kids; parents holding kids or bags of shopping–hanging straps dont suffice for *many* riders. Strictly a design for healthy young professionals. Needs a rethink. #beinclusive
— Les Le Mon ✒ DEFEND DEMOCRACY! Author 💻 (@LesLeMonAuthor) November 26, 2019
First, the actual numbers. Our current A650 subway rail cars have 50 seats per subway car and 100 seats per “married pair,” allowing for a total passenger capacity of 232. The new HR4000 rail cars will have 47 seats per car and 94 seats per “married pair,” allowing for a total passenger capacity of 251. So just by removing three seats in each subway car, we’re able to increase total passenger capacity by 19. Please keep in mind you’re seeing just a portion of each car in the renderings above.
There’s another important distinction. The new HR4000 cars will have an open gangway so you can walk from one end of the car to the other. You cannot do that on our current subway vehicles. This means that you’ll have access to more potential seating after boarding.
Though more people will be able to stand, the side-facing seat configuration allows the aisle in the middle of the rail car to be wider, so standing and moving around will be more comfortable and more convenient. Those with strollers, bikes or luggage and wheelchair users will also find it easier to navigate on board.
For those concerned about handholds, the new rail cars will have hanging straps as well as stanchions with split handles, as can be seen in the photo of the mock-up. We are also not reducing the number of priority blue seats and we’ll continue to rely on fellow riders offering those seats to those who most need them (and in my experience, that happens most of the time).
Will this new seating configuration actually result in less chance of you sitting down? The short answer is: not really! As stated above, there are only three less seats. If standing is made more convenient, chances are some people who previously sat may opt to stand instead (especially because too much sitting isn’t great for your health), which opens up seating for those who want it.
And a reminder: this sort of seating configuration isn’t unique and, in fact, is the norm in many large metro areas around the world. See the examples below. Interestingly, SF Muni’s new light rail cars now use bench seating as well.
A few other fun facts about the new seats:
- they will be the same size dimensions as current subway rail car seats
- they will be vinyl
- they don’t have butt dents
Personally, I like this new seating configuration — and I too would like to see it eventually on our light rail cars. However, there is a cost associated with reconfiguring existing rail cars, so it’s not something that can be done at the drop of a hat.
Some other rider reaction to our earlier post:
Wow these are so great, it’s going to be so much easier to move around inside the rail car and stand away from the door . I hope we get something similar for the expo line too haha.
— 💖💫🚇 (@elanahan) November 26, 2019
— Bryan ❤️ Sandwiches (@MrKneeSan) November 25, 2019
Categories: Transportation News