New CTA rail cars should arrive next year; board approved financing

The long-awaited, much bally-hooed Series 5000 rail cars should start arriving on CTA tracks by sometime next year after the transit agency’s board on Thursday approved a $625 million bond issuance to finance them.

A total of 706 cars are on order. The first 300 that will come next year will replace the oldest cars in use on the Blue Line. The CTA will save money in the long run with the new cars, the Tribune reports:

CTA officials said the rail car purchase is a good deal for the agency and its customers. Interest rates are at historic lows and the CTA expects to sell bonds at about a 5 percent rate, officials said.

The cost of each rail car comes out to $1.4 million, said Karen Walker, CTA chief financial officer. The cost to overhaul existing CTA trains averages $1.2 million per car, she said.

By retiring old cars, the CTA anticipates maintenance savings of $8 million to $10 million a year, Claypool said.

Meanwhile, Claypool still hasn’t released his budget for 2012, though certainly myself and others had expected him to show it to the board Thursday. Maybe next week we’ll learn the extent of the sacrifice both riders and employees can expect next year.

(Photos by Ben Meyerson and Max T-M)


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  • Again, your sources are no good. People at have sightings and pictures of them arriving every day (see the 5000s Arrive thread, such as this picture. The only issue seems to be that they are not in "revenue service" yet.

  • Hopefully they fixed the destination sign for the new cars so they show what color line the train is for. It was really confusing when a train pulled up at a Brown Line/Purple Line station and they both showed they were headed to the Loop.

  • I saw a four car train with the highest numbered car being 5020 running west on Lake St at Clinton, as a training train, no passengers on Oct 5 around 11:30AM.

  • Everytime I see those pictures of the 5000's with those RIDICULOUS bucket seats sandwiched right next to each other that are both incompatible with the both shape of the railcars and the average-sized person, I can only imagine what a laughing stock the CTA must be to top-notch industrial designers of rapid transit railcars. I do not recall riding in or seeing pictures of rapid transit railcars ANYWHERE that have individual bucket seating. And there is probably a darn good reason for that. There will be at minimum a handful of unusable seats in each railcar during busier periods, which is most of the time on the Red Line.

    I will not be surprised when the new configuration is finally recognized as a big problem and the CTA ends up spending millions a few years down the road to replace the bucket seats with the industry-standard bench style seating. Rotting brown line platforms anyone? Inferior railroad ties on the Blue line to O'Hare that lasted half their expected lifespan? Defective NABI articulated buses mothballed at half their expected service life? The list go on. Millions of precious transit dollars wasted!

  • In reply to Matt:

    Have to agree with you there. The only question is whether CTA management is too pigheaded to recognize this mistake. Maybe in a couple of years, after the about third successor to Claypool.

    As to "Millions of precious transit dollars wasted," I agree, but most CTA Tattler commenters don't care.

  • In reply to Matt:

    "I do not recall riding in or seeing pictures of rapid transit railcars ANYWHERE that have individual bucket seating."

    I have photos from a recent trip (Dec. 2010) to Boston of MBTA subway cars with longitudinal seating with bucket seats and vertical poles. Except for the different car dimensions and number of doors, the photos are indistinguishable from the first photo above.

    I can e-mail them to anyone who persists that CTA is the only transit operator with that combination (longitudinal seating with bucket seats and vertical poles). Negative exceptionalism (my city or country is the absolute worst!) is just as ridiculous as positive exceptionalism (my city or country is the best, bar none!).

  • In reply to jbredin:

    Yes Boston has installed similar seating.
    Except, I watched this video & you can see that the seats appear to be wider. There's even a sign that says the seats are wider.

  • So they made zero changes based on the trial runs and changes, based on all the feedback they got about the non-usability of the destinations signs and route maps that are not in color and that the seats are not very usable with the buckets and pole placement? *sigh*

  • Alert: Someone at says that someone was recycling old news. It sure looks so. (See also my follow-up.)

    Note that CTA press releases only mentioned the fare machine at 57th and some tenant at the Belmont station as the result of yesterday's board meeting.

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