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Metro testing wool seats in rail cars
19
Dec '08
For the next six months, Metro is providing a sneak peak into the future of its next generation of rail cars as it tests five different types of wool fabric seats inside its new series 6000 rail cars.

The transit agency will test two different types of fabric, aura and vigor. The aura fabric comes in three different designs and colors: blue dots, red dots, and blue squares. The second fabric, vigor, comes in two different designs and colors, balls and seals and gray rainbow.

The fabric seats were installed in rail cars #6026 and 6027. After three months, the fabrics will be installed on rail cars #6014 and 6015.

“It's always good to be looking at new things, and we look forward to hearing from our customers as to what they think of these different fabric designs,” said Christopher Zimmerman, Chairman of the Metro Board of Directors.

During the test phase, Metro will monitor ease of replacement, durability, ease of cleaning, overall costs against the existing seat covers and the appearance of pattern and color. Upon conclusion of its evaluation, Metro will select one of the new fabrics for installation on its next order of rail cars.

Since its inception in 1976, Metro's railcar fleet has been outfitted with brown and orange nugahyde material for seat cushions. In 2001, Metro introduced Potomac blue, Chesapeake sand and Colonial burgundy colors as the new seat colors on the series 5000 and refurbished series 2000 and 3000 rail cars.

“The new fabric is what we will be passing along to the next generation of Metrorail riders,” said Dave Kubicek, Metro's Assistant General Manager for Metrorail, who is leading the development of designs of the new rail cars.

On average the nugahyde seats inside a Metrorail car are cleaned every 60 days and replaced every one to three years based on wear and tear. It costs Metro $20 to replace seats in each Metrorail car.

In addition to the new seat fabrics being tested, Metro has been testing new floors, recently completed installation of spring-loaded overhead handles on its series 6000 rail cars and is currently installing nylon straps on up to 266 rail cars to give shorter customers something to hold onto for balance and comfort while they stand. Metro plans to complete this installation by the end of the year.

The Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (Metro) was created by an interstate compact in 1967 to plan, develop, build, finance, and operate a balanced regional transportation system in the national capital area. The Authority began building its rail system in 1969, acquired four regional bus systems in 1973, and began operating the first phase of Metrorail in 1976.

Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority

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