OAKLAND -- Armrests are out. Bike racks and poles are in. Seats will be wipeable. And seniors and disabled people get their own special color.

BART passengers will get all this and more when the new railcars in the "Fleet of the Future" start rolling in the Bay Area, the agency's elected board heard Thursday.

The first test cars are in production and scheduled to arrive in June 2015. The first 110 will go into service by early 2017.

The interior design is the culmination of thousands of riders' comments, a seat-testing laboratory and the desires of board members and staff, BART Chief Marketing Officer Aaron Weinstein said.

Among the new railcar's features:

  • Seating for seniors and the disabled is chartreuse -- that color halfway between green and yellow -- while the standard seats are traditional BART blue, and the floors are dark gray.

  • Digital screens offer a split-screen, real-time "You Are Here" map and a "Next stop" announcement in multiple languages.

  • High-tech door seals will cut back on interior noise.

  • Low-profile separators will be installed between the seats rather than armrests, which are uncomfortable for large people, restrict movement between the aisle and window seats, and eliminate extra seating space for small children. Armrests may remain on seats near doors, where passengers could slide off when trains speed up and slow down.

  • Seat upholstery will be easy to clean and be constructed with medium-density foam cushions and a contoured seat back with lumbar support.

  • More room is available under the seats for carry-on bags.

  • Floor-to-ceiling poles will give passengers something to hold while cars start and stop. But they will be spaced to provide adequate room for wheelchairs.

  • For the most part, the nine-member elected BART board liked what it saw.

    But the bike rack remains a contentious amenity.

    The new design includes one, although the agency has abandoned the idea of installing adjacent flip-down seats that could be used when no bicycles are on board. It could generate unwanted conflict, Weinstein said.

    BART cars are already crowded; the new cars will have five fewer seats than the old ones, and the racks take up the equivalent of three additional seats, said BART directors Gail Murray of Walnut Creek and Zackhary Mallet of El Sobrante.

    "My constituents have told me they want a seat," Murray said. "We should look at something other than these racks that take up so much space."

    Bike proponents on the board argue that BART already allows bikes on trains, and the racks are safer than propping them up along the aisles or against the walls.

    And since many of BART's parking lots routinely fill up, the rail service needs to encourage cyclists, BART Director Rebecca Saltzman of Oakland said.

    The BART board and the riding public will have an opportunity to see a full-size railcar prototype in April. BART plans to purchase 1,000 railcars through 2023.

    Contact Lisa Vorderbrueggen at 925-945-4773. Follow her at Twitter.com/lvorderbrueggen.