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Rider's Almanac Blog

Light Rail METRO Blue Line METRO Green Line Minneapolis St. Paul Transit Improvements

Plastic seats the new norm on light rail vehicles

| Thursday, September 9, 2021 6:58:00 PM

The cloth seats customers once found – and sometimes avoided – on light rail vehicles are no more.

This summer, light rail technicians finished swapping out more than 13,000 cloth seat backs and bottoms with new, custom-designed plastic seats that are easier to keep clean and dry. Efforts to install the new blue seats began in 2020.

“This was really a tremendous effort on the part of our technicians who, given a challenge, stepped forward and delivered once again,” said Ryan McTeague, director of light rail vehicle maintenance.  

New light rail vehicles that will be used on the Green Line Extension are also coming equipped with plastic seats.  

Maintenance employees are looking forward to the change as much as customers.

To clean cloth seats, staff at times had to remove the bottoms and backs, steam clean them, and allow them to dry before putting them back. In some cases, the seats needed to be refurbished or discarded.  

In contrast, cleaners can quickly wipe down and dry the plastic seats. To help prevent the spread of germs, light rail vehicles are always washed and sanitized before entering service.

Stronger air filters that can capture more airborne particles are also being used.

“Now more than ever, it’s important to provide the cleanest on-board environment we can,” McTeague said. “The combination of plastic seats and stronger filters go a long way toward that goal.”

Customers are invited to offer feedback on the new seats by contacting Customer Relations