Don't Read if You Ride BART Often...It might Make You Want to Walk to Work

adpostal's picture

BART seats are plush and comfortable, giving your tired feet a rest after a long day of work.  However, these seats provide more than just a comfy place to sit.  They also provide a breeding ground for all sorts of bacteria.  San Francisco State University's Biology Lab took samples from BART seats and found fecal bacteria, in addition to MRSA, the antibiotic-resistant staph infection.  Apparently BART got 245 complaints of "urination and defecation" last year.  In addition, the lab found "a forest of mold" on a Dublin/Pleasanton train's seat cushion.

This is absolutely gross and a public health problem.  BART should do a better job of ensuring some base level of cleanliness on BART to avoid spreading disease.  This may be a case where sacrificing our comfort for our health is appropraite.  If the seats were plastic, not nearly as many bacteria cultures would develop on them.  

What do San Franciscans think?

ro_returns's picture

I read it!

I remember when I first came to SF, I thought the "plush" seats were strange because the other rapid transit systems I've been on all have plastic seats. Many of those riders have commutes longer than that of the average BART rider too. This article is seriously disgusting but sadly, in the words of the BART spokesperson, "not surprising". I, myself, would be in favor of plastic seats but I was curious to see why people might oppose it. I came across the following thread on Bartrage and saw that many people are aware of the Petri dish cushions and after weighing their chances against their level of exhaustion, opt to plant their not-unsuspecting butts down.

With that, maybe it is best to have partial changes? A number of the cars can be designated to have plastic seats installed and that way, whether you are or are not ambitious with your immune system, you can give your feet a rest. Not to mention, not have to argue with the person sitting next to you about which seat type is better.

Bernadette's picture

BART + public safety = disappointed!

I'm really disgusted by this revelation on the horrendous condition of BART seats! MRSA? This is not just a quality of service problem but a public health and public safety issue! While BART need to be kept accountable, we need to remember that this is a team effort (BART + BART riders). Yes, BART needs to find ways to keep its seats clean and safe (inspect and clean the seats more frequently or maybe just change to hard, plastic seats that are much easier to clean). However, it is also our responsibility and BART riders to make sure that we do our part and not urinate, defecate, vomit, etc. on the trains. Keep yourself healthy and clean to also help keep others the same way! That's some good ol' Golden Rule stuff, right? FInally, I bet all these people who participated in the No Pants BART event ( 1) wish they'd read the NY Times article beforehand and 2) probably also contributed to the vile conditions of the BART seats!

Paid for by Phil Ting for Assembly 2012. FPPC ID# 1343137