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New Wheels Could Cut Deafening Screech of San Francisco Subways

It gets loud.

The deafening screech of Bay Area Rapid Transit cars in San Francisco is probably not the system’s worst feature. (That would be, of course, the packed trains. Or maybe the raised fares. Or just a general unpleasantness.)

But the noise is a problem, nonetheless, sending around 90 decibels piercing through trains, according to NBC Bay Area

BART officials said recently, though, that they think they have a solution: new wheels. 

The root cause of the screeching, it turns out, are tiny grooves dug into the tracks that are carved as trains pass over them. Wheels then slip on the curves, sending ear-piercing howls through the air. 

The new wheels, shaped by a computer model, are designed to create fewer grooves, meaning that they will also reduce the noise by, transit officials hope, up to 50 percent, according to NBC Bay Area. The wheels will be installed on new train cars next year, and, eventually, older train cars will be retrofitted as well.

All this means that soon, while you’re riding in a packed San Francisco train car full of sweaty commuters, you might no longer have to plug your ears.