New Jersey Transit plans to add 2.2 inches to the width of its seats in double-decker train cars over the next three years.
And Amtrak plans to change design on dining car seating to accommodate the wider commuters of today. A New York Times story last week recapped these developments. “It’s clear that the U.S. population is getting heavier,” said Martin Schroeder, chief engineer for the American Public Transport Association. “We are trying to get our hands on that and figure out what is the best average weight to use.”
Meanwhile, the CTA has ordered more than 700 new rail cars with the same current tight seat width. And the new seats are longitudinal - they face the aisle. Since the seats are now in a long row, there is effectively less room without the ability for your butt to hang into the aisle.
In a poll last year, 50% of CTA Tattler readers said they prefer bench seating without confining poles. But so far, the CTA is not really listening to that. In fact, they have their hands full trying to get to the bottom of the wheel housing problems of the new rail cars, as the Tribune reports today.