For the past 16 years, customers who have taken a seat on a light rail vehicle have rested on cloth seats. But the seats have proven difficult to keep clean and dry, particularly during winter months.
To prevent future soggy bottoms and defray ongoing maintenance costs, Metro Transit is replacing more than 13,000 cloth seat backs and bottoms with new, custom-designed plastic seats.
After testing plastic seats on a handful of train cars last year, all 91 light rail vehicles are being retrofitted over the coming months. New light rail vehicles that will be used on the Green Line Extension will also feature plastic seats.
“Our customers have been asking us to do this for a while, so we’re excited to take this step and improve their riding experience,” said Ryan McTeague, director of light rail vehicle maintenance.
Maintenance staff are also looking forward to the change. To clean existing cloth seats, staff must sometimes remove seat bottoms and backs, steam them and allow them to dry. In some cases, cloth seats need to be refurbished or discarded.
The transition to plastic seats comes as maintenance staff put extra time and energy into cleaning and disinfecting light rail vehicles, part of Metro Transit’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic. All light rail vehicles are fully disinfected before entering service each day.
“We are doing everything we can to provide a comfortable and safe riding experience, and these plastic seats will be a big part of that moving forward,” McTeague said.
Customers are invited to offer feedback on the new seats by contacting Customer Relations.