DART, WMATA install vinyl seat coverings on transit systems

July 5, 2024
DART refurnished more than 16,000 seats on 158 vehicles in its light-rail fleet while WMATA has refurnished more than 40 buses and is looking to complete all 1,500 buses by 2025.

Dallas Area Rapid Transit (DART) has finished installing vinyl seat coverings on its light-rail vehicles while the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (WMATA) has begun installing vinyl seat coverings on its buses.


Contracted crews finished installing the seating on the last train that was scheduled for the upgrade on June 19. In total, DART refurnished more than 16,000 seats on 158 vehicles in its light-rail fleet – including 95 that have been in service for more than 25 years.  

“This was a top priority for us coming out of the pandemic because we realized we needed to have surfaces that are easier to keep clean and sanitary while providing a comfortable and inviting ride for our customers,” said Darryl Spencer, DART’s vice president of engineering and technical services development. “Being able to improve the look and feel of some of our oldest vehicles as we prepare to introduce new ones into light-rail service in the next few years is a win-win for everyone.” 

DART upgraded each of the trains with seating that features new padding and a premium vinyl finish. The new seats covers are sleeker, softer and easier to clean.  

The seating upgrade plan began at the beginning of 2024, with a single pilot train outfitted with new seats. Customers provided feedback through an in-vehicle survey, with more than 95 percent of those surveyed saying the seats felt cleaner, more hygienic and made the interior of the vehicle more refreshing. DART began retrofitting the older vehicles with new vinyl seating and once completed, rotated each vehicle into service on the Red, Blue, Green and Orange Lines. 

New vinyl seats on the four vehicles used to operate the Dallas Streetcar were also installed. DART will update the seating on five additional decommissioned trains to maintain spare seats and parts for future repairs and necessary replacements. 

DART is in the process of orchestrating a Systems Modernization Plan that will help the agency achieve its strategic goals of providing a quality customer experience, creating seamless travel experiences and delivering fantastic spaces that add value to the community. The plan includes the purchase of new light-rail vehicles and buses to upgrade and modernize the current transit fleet.  


The WMATA has a goal of replacing cloth seats on its 1,500 buses with modern, easier-to-clean and maintain vinyl seats by 2025. So far, nearly 40 buses have had their seats replaced.  

The agency notes vinyl is a more resilient material with several advantages over cloth, such as increased hygiene, better overall appearance and less smell absorption. WMATA says it will also save money in the short- and long-term by buying vinyl seats over fabric seats. 

The Metrobus team tested vinyl seats on one bus as a pilot before deciding to roll out the seats across the Metrobus fleet. The agency says riders responded positively about the comfort and appearance and WMATA staff found the installation process to be easy and seats more durable. 

“We believe strongly in providing customers a welcoming, comfortable and clean environment while riding buses,” said Shushil Ramnaress, WMATA's chief fleet officer. “This is one of several steps we are taking to show our customers that we are listening and seeking ways to make Metro [WMATA] a preferred option for customers traveling throughout the region.” 

About the Author

Brandon Lewis | Associate Editor

Brandon Lewis is a recent graduate of Kent State University with a bachelor’s degree in journalism. Lewis is a former freelance editorial assistant at Vehicle Service Pros.com in Endeavor Business Media’s Vehicle Repair Group. Lewis brings his knowledge of web managing, copyediting and SEO practices to Mass Transit Magazine as an associate editor.