As huge throngs of people made their way our of Grant Park Friday night after viewing the fireworks, some Brown Line riders might have done a double take in boarding one of the CTA's three "max-capacity" rail cars. These train cars have most of the seats removed to allow for greater capacity.
These rail cars were first broached by then CTA President Ron Huberman at the first CTA Tattler Coffee with Ron more than a year ago. Then last fall the CTA spent about $10,000 per rail car to roll out three test cars.
It turns out those max-capacity cars failed the test and plans to expand the pilot were quietly dropped late last year.
"The factors were that customers didn't like the loss of seats and an analysis that indicated if the program were expanded, the number of customers adversely impacted by loss of seats exceeded the number customers with improved ability to board trains," said a CTA spokesperson last week. "There was also a capital cost to convert additional cars and it was determined that there were other more pressing uses for these funds.
"It was not thought to be an effective use of limited capital funds to convert them back to the original seating configuration so we kept the existing three "Max Cars" and they continue to run on the Brown Line," she added.
So if you find yourself on one of the max capacity Brown Line cars, just know you are riding a rarity.