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These transformable train seats could make your commute 30 percent less awful

These transformable train seats could make your commute 30 percent less awful

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PriestmanGoode, the design shop behind the new London Tube and this insane luxury space capsule, has released a pair of adjustable seat designs that aim to tackle overcrowding on commuter trains. The seats are adjustable to accommodate 15–30 percent more passengers, depending on the design, the firm says.

Most trains today are a jumble of seat hogs, manspreaders, and highly inefficient design. (As a frequent passenger of New York’s Metropolitan Transportation Authority, I can attest to frequent frustrations as a result of the poor layout in the system’s two commuter trains, MetroNorth and the Long Island Rail Road.) PriestmanGoode says its designs can help allay some of those headaches with an innovate approach to seat design. One is an ergonomic space saver, while the other uses adjustable seating to respond to overcrowding.

"We’re currently facing a dilemma," the firm’s chairman Paul Priestman said in a statement. "On the one hand, it’s imperative that we encourage mass transit over the use of personal vehicles if we want to live in a more sustainable world. On the other, as more and more people use those services, many passengers face stress and discomfort as they try to get a seat or even just board a train."

"We’re currently facing a dilemma"

The firm’s two designs, Horizon and Island Bay, can help increase capacity on train trips, while aiming to improve the passenger experience.

The Horizon model transforms a traditional train experience into something more akin to sitting at a bar by shortening the width of the seat and bringing the rows of seating closer together. The staggered seat increases shoulder space between passengers and helps improve the feeling of personal space, while double foot rests can accommodate passengers of varying heights. As a result, PriestmanGoode says it can fit 30 percent more passengers on a train without sacrificing comfort.

The firm calls the Island Bay design its "flexible seating solution" that adjust depending on whether the train is operating off-peak or during rush hour. During those busier times, the double seat layout flips up to accommodate more standing passengers, and a small window table becomes a stool. Padded backs are found at the end of the bay seats to offer standing passengers a more comfortable lean. Wider aisles between the seats can accommodate wheelchairs, strollers, or bikes.

PriestmanGoode says its designs are just a year away from hitting the market, but aren’t being announced for any particular rail line or transit agency. The firm predicts that train operators would choose to include a combination of these seats alongside regular seats, to ensure that all passengers are comfortably catered for.