DART aims to retrofit entire fleet of older light-rail vehicles with vinyl seats by June

March 14, 2024
The shiny blue seats are reported to be easier to clean, which will help the Dallas agency deliver “a superior customer riding experience.”

Dallas Area Rapid Transit (DART) plans to retrofit its fleet of light-rail vehicles (LRVs) with a new feature aimed at improving the riding experience: Shiny blue vinyl seats. 

The vinyl seats, which DART says are “sleeker, softer and easier to clean,” are currently installed in 20 LRVs on the Orange, Green, Red and Blue Lines. The agency plans to more than double the number vehicles with the new seats by the end of March and have the entire fleet of older LRVs retrofitted and running in service by June.

The seats feature new padding and a premium vinyl finish, which helps DART continue to drive home the importance of a superior customer riding experience.

“One of the biggest things we learned coming out of the pandemic was the need to have surfaces that are easy to clean and sanitize,” said Darryl E. Spencer, P.E., DART vice president of engineering and technical services development. “These new seats will allow us to provide a cleaner, safer and more comfortable ride as we continue to modernize our system.”

DART began replacing fabric seats on its buses for vinyl covered seats in April 2023 and moved to the second phase of its seat retrofit project, which targets LRVs and on Dallas Streetcar, in January 2024. The LRV seating upgrade plan will see more than 16,000 seats, including spare ones created for inventory replacement, in the DART fleet refurbished. In total, the seating on 163 of the oldest LRVs – including the 95 that have been in service for more than 20 years – will have the old cloth seats replaced with premium vinyl.

DART reports riders like the new seats, with 90 percent of those taking an available in-vehicle survey saying they preferred the new vinyl seats to the fabric ones and 95 percent claiming the seats felt cleaner and more hygienic. 

About the Author

Mischa Wanek-Libman | Group Editorial Director

Mischa Wanek-Libman serves as editor in chief of Mass Transit magazine and group editorial director of the Infrastructure and Aviation Group at Endeavor Business Media. She is responsible for developing and maintaining the editorial direction of the group and is based in the western suburbs of Chicago.

Wanek-Libman has spent more than 20 years covering transportation issues including construction projects and engineering challenges for various commuter railroads and transit agencies. She has been recognized for editorial excellence through her individual work, as well as for collaborative content. 

She is an active member of the American Public Transportation Association's Marketing and Communications Committee and serves as a Board Observer on the National Railroad Construction and Maintenance Association (NRC) Board of Directors.  

She is a graduate of Drake University, where she earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in Journalism and Mass Communication with a major in magazine journalism and a minor in business management.