Best seats on Series 5000 cars, and some problems for handicapped

As the new rail cars take their test cruise on the Orange Line, I thought riders there might like to know where the best seats are.

There is no “Hobo Corner” anymore, but riders can stand in the area where the motorman would operate.

5000 series aisle crowd.jpg

Also, at the end of each car opposite the extra space for wheelchairs, there’s some extra room. And there are spots for your bags on either side of door next to the end seat.

However, as Tattler reader Roberta pointed out to me. there’s a lawsuit waiting to happen in the area by the doors with the open space for wheelchairs.

“A girl got on the train who was in a cast and on crutches,” Roberta wrote. “She
tried to balance herself by grabbing a strap because there was no pole near the
door. Luckily her friend kept her from taking a header into one of the passengers
in the header seat.

“On the long seats, I saw people with various limps and a
cane try to make it down the aisle with no poles and then their stick was just
as much in the way as before. Further, if they waited or it took a while to get
their bearings, they were literally on a collision course for those trying to
hold onto the straps.

“I saw many shorter people unable to grab a strap. They
stumble walked down the aisle or just bumped into folks going down the aisle.”

The CTA is planning to take delivery of these new rail cars next year. I hope they work out some of these problems before then.


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  • If one believes what CTA brass has said to this point, this is the one area where they have been the most bullheaded. This seems the first report of a possible ADA violation due to the seat layout. Thus, it probably would take one of the advocacy groups to get attention, and we know that transit authorities usually don't listen to them either.

    The other question is that, this not being Toronto, whether anyone got up to give a seat to the person with a cast, or if she was lucky enough to get on near the beginning of the line.

  • I'm confused about the issue here. Aren't there poles throughout the cars that connect from the floor to the seats? I haven't ridden a 5000 series in a while, but I seem to remember that, and the picture above seems to show them. Maybe I'm misunderstanding the complaint.

    Also, I'm amazed at how much Chicagoans will complain about the aisle-facing seat layout that most other mass transit system use (see New York, Boston, Toronto, etc.). Think about how packed the L is in the morning and evening rush (or the North Red Line at almost any time of the day). Adding the extra capacity is surely the right move.

    There are definitely good suggestions to improve these cars (e.g., bench seating, digital maps, etc.), but complaints about the seating layout because you don't like looking at other people or because there are a couple fewer seats seems really shortsighted.

  • In reply to aaronjbrown:

    it's mindboggling how they switched to longitudinal seating without really creating any extra room. except for the smoother ride, the 5000 cars are basically 3200s with a bunch of half-assed flair installed in them. like the honda civics that were in my high school parking lot.

    it's probably an illusion because they're supposedly the same width as 3200s and 5000s, but 2200s seem WAY roomier.

  • In reply to mickcube:

    All cars from at least the late 1940s are the same dimensions, although some vary by a few inches based on whether the sides were convex or like the 2200s, or the way the front end was molded.

    But, basically, the only difference is the seating. Also, I have pointed out that CTA's claim that the 5000s have the same number of seats as existing cars is fraudulent, in that they may have the same number as the 3200s, which have 1 by 2 seating, but not the earlier series, which have 2 by 2 seating. Therefore, the number of seats is reduced from about 49 to 41.

  • In reply to jack:

    C'mon jack - "fraudulent?" You're being over-dramatic, even for you.

    I guess you can say "misleading" - since perhaps the CTA should be comparing the 5000s to the rail cars they're replacing - but it's still a reasonable comparison.

    More importantly, the reduction in seating capacity (~20% in your comparison) is more than offset by the increase in total capacity (~20-30%). That's a net gain of 20-30 passengers per car. I'd rather somebody has a less comfortable ride than somebody not be able to board a train at all.

  • In reply to aaronjbrown:

    I agree, I'd rather squeeze onto a train and stand than not get on a train at all. I ride the Blue Line regularly and any extra space is well needed and getting rid of the 2200s is the first step!

  • In reply to aaronjbrown:

    Tell that to the rider with a cast. I guess we should all be glad that they have 220% more seats than the Brown Line Max cattle cars.

  • AB, I think the complaint about polls is that they are spaced to far apart. Remember, right now there's a "poll" at every seat because there's a grab bar at the top of each seat.
    The other issue is the wide open space at the door (with no poles) to allow wheelchairs to board. This could be dangerous as well, even for someone not using a cane or crutches.

  • In reply to KevinO’Neil:

    But it does give a bigger target to moms planning to heave the stroller through the doors from a distance.

  • In reply to KevinO’Neil:

    I haven't rode the 5000s since the summer but I know in the LA Metro, there's a horizontal pole for those in wheelchairs. Maybe the CTA can add it in time.

    Here's a picture:

  • In reply to KevinO’Neil:

    If you can stand in the cab, how does it have no hobo corner? I was on my first 5000 yesterday, but was in the front car and couldn't observe for myself.

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