What will Metro's next cars look like?
Riders ask if they can have any say about what the next generation of rail cars will look like. Metro says the answer is yes, and it will happen over the next year and a half.
But riders have very different ideas about what is comfortable and efficient in a car design. It's unlikely the final design will make everyone happy, but at least people will get their say.
Starting in January, the transit authority says, planners will reach out to riders and employees to help design the cars. Train operators, for example, will be consulted about the design of the cabs. The people who work in the yards and fix the cars will be consulted about maintenance issues.
Riders will have a chance to talk about the car interiors, including the coverings for the walls, floors and seats; the signage displays and locations; the lighting and hand holds.
The transit staff foresees two time periods when it will seek rider comments. The first will be January through March. Then after a preliminary design phase, the staff will go back to the public for discussions about fine-tuning. That will occur from July through September, if the schedule holds.
Besides working with the general public, the transit authority says, it also will continue to seek the views of advisers who include the Metro Riders Advisory Council, the Accessibility Advisory Committee and the Metro Transit Police.
Kawasaki, the company that will manufacture the new 7000 Series rail cars, will have its own design people working on the project. Metro officials note that those people will naturally represent the interests of their employer, so the transit authority will contract with an industrial transportation designer to provide assistance in planning and to be the agency's advocate with Kawasaki.
At its Thursday meeting, Metro's Customer Service and Operations Committee discussed the plans for getting advice from riders and employees.
The board members illustrated how tough some of the design issues can be when they fell into a discussion about the here and now, rather than the future. The 6000 Series cars, the newest in the fleet, were retrofitted with metal hand-grips after shorter riders complained that the original design left them little to hold onto, except their fellow passengers.
Many riders still find it difficult to grab the hand-grips. Often, standees just hold onto the seat rails on either side of the aisle. Then there's the issue of how to stay standing near the front and rear doors, where poles were removed to get people to move toward the center of the car. There are no hand-grips at all around those areas. Board members wanted the staff to take a look at that issue, as well.
But all this will be better once we have the 7000 Series, right?
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