On Monday -- in an open letter
to CTA President Richard Rodriguez and Board Chairman Terry Peterson -- I reviewed what I liked about the new 5000 Series train
cars currently being tested on the Red Line. In this second part of the
letter, here's what I don't like.
The longitudinal seating.
Yesterday I praised the new aisle-facing seats because they provide more
"breathing room" for standees, wheelchairs, strollers and bikes. Today I
diss them because the CTA still uses the molded seats with fabric
coverings, rather than more of a bench-style seat as used in New York City. The seating as currently configured -- including a long vertical
grab pole every two seats -- discourages two people with a Body Mass Index of more
than 28 or so from sitting together because of the pole. But they could
before because of the extra space by the window and aisle for the
On my Monday morning commute on the new train car,
five people were standing in the doorway with three seats available at
one end of car. There probably was room for riders to sit. But I think people
just don't want to sit so close. They respect your personal space and
value their own. BTW, Ed gave more arguments against these seats Monday.
So I say do Phase 2 testing with bench seating,
fewer poles and more grab straps.
Update: Steve suggested Flickr has a better image of the NYC train seats, though Flickr won't let me post it here.
Change new "doors closing" warning beeps and light. The CTA should really rethink the "doors closing" warning beeps. It's too "meek" to warn of
anything. Now it's just annoying. The flashing white light is a little
more useful, but why make it white? Yellow is the more universal color
Here's a quickie video that DJ Miller made. Note the flashing white light and meek warning signal.
Dump the "Lite Brite" station indicator map. Or, at
least bring it into
the 21st century. I agree with commenters last week, who also criticized
the map as dated, especially Steve R.
The "assaulting" hanging straps. Perhaps this is
something people will just have to get used to. But every time I rode
these cars, I smacked my head on a hanging strap. I was especially
vulnerable to "attack" by the one right over the wheelchair spot inside
Fix the auto-leveling device. I have to figure this
is just a glitch that will be fixed during this trial run. But until
then it's downright dangerous when the car's fails to "auto-level" to
the height of the platform. The worst part is have to step down.
It suppose it will be a great feature when it works, but it hasn't
consistently worked yet.
Poor color-coded signage. The current signage indicating it's a Red Line train glows in white LED lights. So there is no "Red" telling riders this is a Red Line train. Again, this may be a given for the CTA to fix, but it's still worth mentioning.