The CTA has been been running in-service testing on a set of eight new rail cars on the Red Line for two weeks now. In that time I've ridden in the Series 5000 train cars five times at various times of the day. Today and tomorrow I'm sharing my review of them in the form of an open letter that I'm also formally sending to CTA President Richard Rodriguez and Board Chairman Terry Peterson:
Dear President Rodriguez and Chairman Peterson:
First, congratulations to you and your staff on getting the new Series 5000 rail cars into revenue service for testing.
We have lots of opinions on them, and as you know CTA Tattler and its
readers are always willing to share! The following are my own
thoughts, plus comments compiled from Tattler readers.
There's good and bad in everything. Let's start with the former.
Smoother acceleration and braking. I love that the cars use alternating current propulsion instead of direct current motors to drive the trains. The result is smoother
acceleration and braking. There are other benefits, as Chicago-L.org reports: "Trains also use AC power more efficiently,
lowering operating and maintenance costs, and there is less wear and
tear on the rails and cars because of the way the power is supplied.
Through regeneration, AC propulsion also offers some power savings."
More "breathing" room inside. Because of the aisle-facing seats, there's more room for passengers to stand and to maneuver around and through the cars. There was plenty of room for people, strollers and bicycles: On an early morning run I saw a bike rider lounging in the handicapped seating with his biked parked in front of him, his feet resting on the bike seat. Not everyone likes the longitudinal seating. (More on that in the "dislikes" post.) But there are some pluses, including....
Room to stow "stuff" under seats. The open seating along the windows allows for passengers to put belongings, such as backpacks duffel bags and even suitcases. I saw very few people put bags on their seats. Instead I saw people who previously might have
hogged the adjacent seat with their bag place it in the open space under the seats. Even when some did put their bag on the seat, they were much quicker to move them since all seats were easily accessible to passengers.
Added security features. With seven cameras recording your every move on each car, the security level is heightened, along with the Big Brother feel. But we should be used to that by now, with so much more camera surveillance everywhere we go. A plus is that the operator can see what's going on in a car if a passenger requests help.
What the CTA likes about the rail cars. Here's what the CTA has to say about its new cars.
Coming Tuesday: What I dislike about the new rail cars.