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Metro Transit to replace 6,000 cloth light rail seat covers with plastic

20December 2020

It’s the end of an era at Metro Transit, where for 16 years light-rail passengers have faced the potential of a soggy-bottomed winter commute.

By spring, Metro Transit will replace the 6,000 cloth seats on all of its 91 light-rail train cars with plastic seats.

The plastic seats, which have been tested out on a limited number of light-rail trains, have proven easier to clean and maintain, a special boon during the pandemic.

Technician Chris Kostohris installs new plastic seats on a light rail vehicle at the Blue Line Operations & Maintenance Facility in Minneapolis in an undated courtesy photo, circa Jan. 2019. Metro Transit is testing new plastic seats on some Blue Line trains as well as new fabric seats with protective coating on some Green Line trains. (Courtesy of Metro Transit)

“Our customers have been asking us to do this for a while, so we’re excited to take this step and improve their riding experience,” Ryan McTeague, director of light-rail vehicle maintenance, said in a Metro Transit statement.

On average, staff have refurbished nearly 3,900 of the original cloth seats a year, accounting for more than 1,600 work hours.

The Metropolitan Council approved a $1.8 million contract for the design and manufacture of plastic seats in early 2020, estimating that reduced maintenance could lead to more than $200,000 in annual savings.

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