Rail riders are evenly split on whether the CTA should offer bench-style seating or the current “bucket” seats on the new Series 5000 train cars.
An unscientific survey conducted by the Active Transportation Alliance found that 49 percent of respondents prefer the New York-style bench seats, while 48 percent like the current bucket seating arrangement.
With bench seating, each passenger takes up the space he or she needs, as opposed to having to fit in the space allowed by the current bucket seats. This is an issue now with the long swaths of aisle-facing seats featured in the new Series 5000 rail cars currently riding the Pink and Green lines. They will get their biggest test in November, when the sleek new cars hit the Red Line, the CTA’s work-horse line with 40 percent of all rail passengers.
In the end, these surveys don’t matter because CTA President Forrest Claypool has said the CTA won’t change the seating style.
That’s fine. I get it that it’s a little late in the game to be making such a change. And these poll results don’t show an overwhelming demand for the bench seating.
But it would have been wise to at least consider the two options and consult passengers years ago when planning first began.