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As Americans finally stop getting fatter, their seats are about to get wider. According to The New York Times‘ Christine Haughney, Amtrak and New Jersey Transit plan to provide seats to make passengers with expanding waistlines more comfortable.
Cliff Cole, an Amtrak spokesman, told The Times that the company plans to introduce “designs that will be able to accommodate the larger-sized passengers” on 25 new dining cars starting 2013.
NJ Transit has a five-year plan to add 100 double-decker train cars with seats 2.2 inches wider than the old 17.55-inch seats. This will also translate into less seats, which means more standing overall.
In order not to affect the passenger capacity, some agencies are keeping the same seat width while choosing seats that can handle heavier passengers.
The Metro-North and Long Island railroads have asked for double seats that can handle a 400-pound load in their preliminary proposal for new train cars and the Federal Transit Administration has proposed to raise the standard for bus testing from 150 pounds and 1.5 square feet to 175 pounds and 1.75 square feet per passenger, reports The Times.
Local transportation agencies are not the first to accommodate obese passengers.
In 2009, Sao Paulo installed special seats in its subway stations, according to The Telegraph. The city might have offended its larger passengers, who are not using the seats, by putting up the sign “Priority chair for obese people” along with a depiction of obese people above the seats.