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BMW giving Bay Area Rapid Transit a (face)lift

BMW announces its DesignworksUSA division has won a contract to design new trains for the Bay Area Rapid Transit system.

BART trains are getting a long overdue redesign from BMW's DesignworksUSA. Lensovet/Wikimedia

The next BMW you step into may not look anything like the sports cars the company is known for. And you might also be sharing the ride with hundreds of other people.

BMW's DesignworksUSA announced a contract to design future trains for Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART), the commuter rail system serving the San Francisco Bay Area. The contract calls for DesignworksUSA to design the exterior, interior, and train operator controls.

The current trains on the BART system, despite their streamlined look, are actually the oldest fleet of commuter rail cars in the country. The rail system uses a broad gauge rather than the standard gauge of most rail in the U.S., so cars must be custom-designed.

The trains travel at a maximum 80 mph, with a system-wide average of 33 mph. BART has not mentioned whether it will also commission a higher-speed M variant train.

The new cars should enter service by 2017.