CTA listens to riders, will change seating pattern on future new rail cars

After months of customer complaints about the aisle-facing seats in the new 5000 Series rail cars, the CTA announced Thursday that less than half the seats in its next generation of rail cars will face the aisle, the Tribune reports.

Field research and a customer survey confirmed complaints aired here since the 5000 Series cars first went into service in 2011:

  • Riders don't like squeezing into the 17.5-inch scoop seats between two other people.
  • We miss the views out the windows.
  • We prefer not to look at a standee's butt or crotch.
  • And we're tired of getting our toes stepped on.

Big props to CTA management for asking us what we want in seating arrangements, and then giving it to us. That's something the previous management team didn't do when it placed orders for the 5000 Series cars seven years ago. Here's a Chicago Tribune graphic showing what the seating will look like in the new 7000 Series cars, compared with the current 5000 series. The new seating is similar to that found on the 3200 Series cars running on the Brown and Orange lines.

7000 series seating

Chicago Tribune graphic

Chicago Tribune graphics

Bids for the 7000 Series cars are due in October. The first order of 100 cars would be delivered in 2016.

We'll have more on this next week. Enjoy the weekend knowing that your voice was heard.


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  • One step forward, Two steps back. The real problem is the bucket seats, but alas, back in time we go.

  • "That's something the previous management team didn't do when it placed orders for the 5000 Series cars seven years ago. "

    Almost, but did not quite say "more proof of the incompetence of the Kruesi administration." But this would have to be the first time that the Emanuel Administration's puppets listed to anything.

    I know that you were calling for something else, like bench seats, which could have been done despite the "structure" argument. I doubt that making them baby blue solves that. Also, the L riders are still getting 17½ inch seats while bus riders get 18½.

    Just wait until 2017 when there are all sorts of posts about how the Red/Green/Pink line riders are second class citizens, and will be for the next 30 years.

  • In reply to jack:

    Sorry, entities for 1/2 didn't work.

  • 1. There are still too many inward facing seats. There are two sets at the cab ends that should face away from the cabs.
    2. So are they going to use common sense & change all the remaining 5000s?
    Silly me, they will justify this by claiming they've already bought the seats.
    No, they can either modify the seats to face forward/backwards or warehouse the extras for the side facing ones on the 7000s.

  • In reply to ScooterLibbby:

    They are using the same seats.

    The only justification was that cross seats would affect the structure, which you didn't buy.

  • I'll believe it when I see it.

  • In the event of an emergency facing the aisle is safer than facing forward.

  • In reply to Cheryl:

    No it's not!
    In fact, facing backwards is the safest of all seating.

  • In reply to ScooterLibbby:


  • In reply to ibilldavis:


  • In reply to ScooterLibbby:

    Ill see that ????? and raise it $%*?

  • In reply to ibilldavis:

    Seriously, this seems to be an application of Newton's First Law of Motion. I mentioned sudden deceleration, i.e. the train hits something in front of it. Due to inertia, your body would tend to move forward. However, if you are in a rear facing seat, the seatback tends to restrain you.

    However, the opposite would be the case if you were in a train being rammed.

  • In reply to ScooterLibbby:

    I don't mind riding backwards.

    I do not want to ride sideways. I will never learn to like it. Period.

  • In reply to Cheryl:

    For that matter, I don't see that CTA L cars have zip open emergency windows. like Metra cars and all buses have.

    If the emergency is sudden deceleration (as Scooter indicates), the only protection is if you are thrown into the fatty next to you taking up half of your seat, too.

  • Well, well, well.

    I hope Mr. Claypool and the rest of CTA management learned something from this experience, beyond just the specifics of the seating configuration issue.

    I've been stuck riding (or avoiding) these awful cars more frequently, lately. One thing I've noticed is that in fuller cars when lots of people are standing, several of the sideways seats are still not taken. Why? Because the actual space available is no more than 3/4 of a person wide.

    We could have told them long ago that that would be the case. It's not even just simple logic and common sense. They were telling us that the number of seats that would be available would be the same--based on the seat measurements, apparently. Many of us were skeptical of that claim at the time. The miscalculation: They were thinking only of the seats, not about the people sitting in those seats!!

    Let that be the lesson they take to heart: It's always supposed to be about the people who are riding.

  • In reply to CCWriter:

    You know that they know that your last sentence is wrong. It is all about the patronage and the subsidies.

    As I mentioned (and may have misspelled) above, they sure weren't listening about Lincoln Avenue, for instance, even though Terry Peterson lied about doing so.

  • I've always thought the 3200-style seating was the best alternative. It looks like that is pretty much what will happen except for the end of the car near the cab.

  • For those of us who use the trains to get to and from work during rush hour, this is bad news. I'm never going to get a seat anyway. Give me more room to stand so I'm not waiting 30 minutes for that has any space on it.

  • In reply to ksv57:

    But just as every child in Lake Wobegon is above average, every CTA passenger convinces himself* that, damn it all and damn CTA management in particular, he surely would have had a seat by himself on the non-5000-series L cars.

    *Or herself, etc.

  • Hopefully those proposed seats near the cab have sufficient space underneath them to fit a folding bike like what the 5000-series currently has.

  • In reply to Noah121:

    Only two of the seats on each side near the cab will have room for your folder. The other seats have the door controls under them.

  • In reply to ScooterLibbby:

    Also the A/C controls.

  • There was a study done years ago that stated if we could talk people on any kind of transit to sit backwards, that's the safest way to go. I would disagree with only because if there is an emergency it would be easier to evacuate people if there weren't as many obstacles as there are in the current seat arrangements.

  • In reply to Cheryl:

    I know that for a while, military transports that didn't have lengthwise seating did have the seats face backwards. I don't know if they still do as most transport is done by charting commercial planes, which have all forward facing seats.
    Lengthwise seating does make sense for paratroopers & other personnel that carry large backpacks & must exit the plane rapidly.

  • So are we going to be stuck with the seats on the 5000's for the next 40 years?

  • In reply to Edgewater Roadie:

    We will be stuck with them until that idiot Claypool is gone!

  • In reply to ScooterLibbby:

    No, it will be at least 30 years from that.

    Roadie is correct that until they are retired, which may be during the CTA Presidency of Annie Blagojevich of the House of Mellatonia (Kass), in the same manner as current staff indicated that the 3200s would be retired after 30 years instead of rebuilt after 20.

    The only debate (at least on chicagobus.org) on who is the idiot that froze this is Kreusi, Huberman, or Claypool. If it really is a structural issue, undoubtedly one of the first two. But if it were initially Claypool, CTA would have stuck with the original 7000 spec, which was "like the 5000s unless the Chief Rail Engineer decides otherwise." Like I said, I was surprised that CTA retreated from that before the bids (including alternative decor proposals) were due.

  • I read "CTA listens to riders" and immediately looked eastward, to where I assume the sun will set today.

    (And better watch out when you step outside. The poop from those flying pigs can make an awful mess.)

  • Fine, you crybabies win.

    Anyway, can someone explain why there's always that big wasted space right across from the operator's cabin?

    I don't remember ever having such a space in NYC subway cars. Considering that CTA train cars are smaller than NYC subway cars, why isn't that space also used for seating without that partition wall? Shouldn't we be looking to maximize seating?

    Also, in these 7000's I want overhead bars to grab onto because one of the biggest irritations for me as a standing passenger in the older cars is that there isn't anything to hold on to except the seat back bar. Geez, buses have had overhead bars forever, why not CTA cars?

    I still think aisle-facing is the best use of space IF the seats are replaced with benches, AND if the seats are pushed as far back against the wall as possible like the ones in the middle of the 5000's.

    The 5000's have a lot of other faults that don't use the space as efficiently as possible, but they were going in the right direction.

  • In reply to Mario:

    The answer is real simple. When they did away with conductors, they first used patrol boy tape across the front so the operator could get to the door control on the other side. Then TV news said that that was unsafe. so CTA eventually added the partitions.

    The 3200s came they way they are now originally.

    And given such things as the Max Capacity cars (as few seats as possible) and going to NYC longitudinal seating, or even before that, 1 by 2 seating as opposed to 2 by 2 in all cars through the 2600s, CTA has demonstrated that seats are not a priority.

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