Biologists Find Drug-Resistant Bacteria On BART Seats


SAN FRANCISCO -- The seats of some well used methods of public transportation have been analyzed by a biologist and the results might keep commuters on their feet.

A supervisor with San Francisco State University's biology lab recently tested the bacterial content of a random BART seat and a Muni seat. The Bay Citizen commissioned the study.

On Muni's plastic seats she found two forms of harmless bacteria, and after using an alcohol wipe on the seat no bacteria was detected.

Read more details on the study.

But the cloth seats on BART told an entirely different story: tests of the seats on BART revealed fecal and skin borne bacteria that were also resistant to antibiotics.

The test also found at least nine different strains of bacteria and several types of mold on the seat.

And even after the cushion was cleaned with an alcohol wipe strains of harmful bacteria were still present.

BART was planning to update its fleet of cars and officials admit the change is needed.

"When BART started in 1972, we were competing directly against the automobile and we wanted to provide a comfortable seat. Now, with 350,000 riders daily on our trains, is our current seat the most appropriate fabric?," asked Bob Franklin, president of BART's board of directors.

BART officials said the seats and trains are cleaned every night. Also, they said $600,000 is spent every year to dry clean the seats.

But officials also admitted that the board was considering just going with the easier-to-clean plastic seats and that the agency planned to survey riders about the seats later this year.