^I don't believe that one bit. I simply think the reason most US transit operators have ugly equipment is because they don't ask for "sexy" equipment and they don't expect it from their already high $$$ FRA compliant custom order from a foreign train manufacturer—or even think about it for that matter. And maybe in the cases they do, the soul stripping committee process isn't willing to pay for it—as they are already weighed down with "loftier" concerns.
Case in point, the "new" Metra Electric District EMU's in Chicago:
Brand new, based on FIFTY year old design. You can't convince me that one ounce of creativity went into this design and the reason being because Metra didn't ask them to. This is the extent of their "styling" expectations, this is the extent of their vision. These new traincars are even a regression from the former Illinois Central 'Highliner' EMU's
they are replacing.
Now compare to new EMU's for Helsinki, Finland:
Do I honestly believe, that even with FRA compliancy, that they could not have engineered and designed an traincar as sleek and modern as this? No.