(As CTA Tattler takes a brief summer's respite, we'll publish "Tattler Tales" from the very early days of CTA Tattler. Any regular Tattler reader knows I have lobbied against the aisle-facing seats on the Series 5000 rail cars. Here's my first complaint about such seating - in June 2004!)
Monday was my first experience on the Red Line’s newly configured cars. It’s an experiment by the CTA to try to give more room for standing passengers during peak travel times.
When I walked on I was somewhat disoriented at first. It was just so different. You’ll notice the main changes between the two sets of doors. That’s where almost all the seats are aligned along the windows, facing each other. This creates a wider aisle for standees. And that is a good thing.
The other big change is the proliferation of black hand straps dangling above, and more poles to hold. I do like the straps because you can sway more easily with the train’s movement.
An ad card announcing the seating experiment states that there are “39 seats, the same numbers as the Orange, Brown and Yellow line 3200 Series car.” But of course it’s a lot less than the old Red Line cars. And it’s very noticeable.
The “big” problem would be for “big” people and sitting next to them. With the new seat configuration, odds are you’ll be sitting hip-to-hip with two people -- one on either side of you. In the old two-seat configuration, you could lean out into the aisle and just half-sit on the seat if your seatmate was a little larger. No can do here.
Plus, you can hear other people’s conversation much more easily. But that’s a good thing for a guy writing the CTA Tattler!