Now that BART’s new “Fleet of the Future” trains have been in regular service for a while, I’ve found myself on them dozens of times. The extra set of doors in the middle is my favorite feature, followed by the significantly improved ventilation. The live map is nice too.
But the biggest change is the audio. No more unintelligible operators mumbling what train you’re on or what station you’re arriving at; now a generic female voice clearly states this information automatically.
This got me to wonder what else might be different about the way the new trains sound vs. the old ones. Listen below to two recordings I made with my phone on two short morning BART commutes.
For comparison, here’s the same ride on a much older BART train. The only automated announcement is the warning that the doors are closing, and there’s also no door chime.
The biggest surprise to me listening to these on my headphones is the slight rattling sound. Definitely didn’t notice that when I was recording this and I’m surprised my phone’s microphone even picked up such a small detail.
You can tell in both recordings there’s still some squealing as the trains go around the corner from 16th and Mission to Civic Center, though nowhere near as much as with the previous wheel design. I kind of wish I’d made a recording a couple years ago for comparison but I don’t know how that awful sound would have come out on a phone. Lest we forget, the old BART rail screech was so unbearable in the Transbay Tube it was once recorded by an audio designer for a survival horror video game.