Humboldt Park firm to make seating for new CTA buses

Pictured is a 2012 Nova LFS 40-foot bus. (Photo from

Pictured is a 2012 Nova LFS 40-foot bus. (Photo from

Freedman Seating won an $8.25 million contract from to build sating for at least 300 new Nova buses, the CTA announced last week. The news means the Humboldt Park-based company will hire about 100 new workers. About one-third of those jobs will require highly skilled trade positions including machinists, computer numerical control (CNC) operators, welders and engineers, according to the CTA news release.

Last month the CTA OK’ed a $148 million contract for Nova Bus to buy at least 300 new 40-foot diesel buses that will replace older model buses that are nearing the end of their useful life. As part of that contract, CTA’s specifications sought lightweight seating options to reduce vehicle weight and fuel costs, and that were also durable enough to withstand heavy-duty use in all seasons.

Nova identified two companies that could meet the seat specifications, and the CTA chose Freedman. From the CTA release:

Freedman Seating currently employs more than 500 employees in its Humboldt Park location. Production of the 11,100 seats needed for CTA’s 300 new buses (37 seats per bus) will begin once CTA issues a notice-to-proceed (NTP), which is expected in mid-May. Freedman will be responsible for the manufacturing of the seats and any repairs/replacements under warranty. CTA also has the option to order an additional 150 buses, which would mean an order of another 5,500 seats from Freedman for those buses.

. . .Under the bus modernization plan, CTA will have a clean, modern and more environmentally-friendly bus fleet with reduced increased capacity over the next few years. CTA has awarded two contracts valued at $185 million for the mid-life overhaul of roughly 60 percent of the existing fleet — 1,029 buses purchased between 2006 and 2007. The remaining portion of the fleet will be replaced with a combination of new standard (40-foot) and articulated (60-foot) buses.

So far, two contracts with a combined value of $228 million have been awarded for the purchase of at least 300 standard buses from Nova and 100 clean diesel and hybrid articulated buses from New Flyer. CTA is currently in the bidding process for the purchase of up to 150 additional articulated clean diesel and hybrid buses, which will be announced in early 2013.


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  • I don't really care who makes the seats as long as they aren't those impossible sideways seats.
    I was on a NF60 last week when it was 10° out & it was awful to sit squeezed like a toothpaste tube between others in heavy winter coats.

  • In reply to ScooterLibbby:

    At least this debunks whoever the poster was on the Tribune/Facebook comment boards that the only reason the 5000s have those seats is because Freeman makes them. Apparently Freeman makes the 4One seats.

    From the number given in one of the articles, it comes out to 37 seats a bus, so I don't know what that implies with regard to the arrangement.

    Finally, the spec. for the 7000 series of L cars suddenly disappeared from the CTA site over the weekend, so we're trying to figure out what that means.

  • In reply to jack:

    What is the difference between the 7000 series and the 5000 series, or is that not clear at this point?

    Is it normal to be planning on the next version before we've even had the 5000 series for 1 year?

  • In reply to chris:

    As I mentioned a week ago, it was a performance spec rather than for specific makes of parts, but the numerous references to "like the 3500s" and "like the 5000s" and "compatible with the "5000s" indicate not much of any difference.

    As indicated, apparently most of the downloads were people from (including me), and you can get a better analysis there.

  • In reply to jack:

    Brain fart. 3200s.

  • In reply to jack:

    OT Jack.
    I was on Optima #539 on the 84 last week.
    10:15 AM & it was packed WB by Clark.
    Looks like the CTA wants to get every mile out of them before they're scrapped, so they're using them on routes which need the larger buses.
    I also think they're doing this to have a reason to not buy 30 foot ones in the future when the politicians demand it. They'll claim they get overloaded all the time.
    I see them occasionally on the 96, but sometimes those are 40 footers. No logic as to why.

  • In reply to ScooterLibbby:

    Several members complained about this about a week ago, but did not impute the nefarious motives you did.

    In fact, the usual reaction was "why aren't they being kept for their FTA 12 year service life," except that it was only state money down the terlet.

    And as far as politicians, the only relevant one is Rahm.

  • In reply to jack:

    For decades, the CTA insisted that smaller buses were a stupid idea as most of the operating cost was the driver's salary & it was easier to maintain a fleet of all the same size buses.
    So the politicians finally demanded some smaller buses, saying that with the high price of diesel, at least save some money on that, plus the cost of the bus.
    But now there are 30, 40 & 60 foot buses. And there are several manufacturers represented among them.
    Like I've said before, CTA managers hate the passengers & also hate it when politicians tell them to do the logical thing, which is to buy smaller buses for lightly used routes or at night.

  • In reply to ScooterLibbby:

    Discussion on starts about here.

  • In reply to ScooterLibbby:

    I also hope they eliminate seats that are so high up that the average female's feet can't reach the floor. It's very uncomfortable.

  • Scooter: We're out of reply buttons, but anyway you have misstated the history of the 500s.

    The original impetus was that CTA needed a 96" bus (they said) for the 170s to wind through Hyde Park. The 4900s weren't accessible, and CTA used some Pace ones for a while before ordering the Optimas. The Optimas were 99" instead of 96", but that was the smallest low floor available.

    Probably, though 25 would have been sufficient for that job, but they bought 45. The options were to 125, which then and subsequently would have been totally ridiculous.

    Some, then and now, were assigned to Evanston and basically northwest of Jefferson Park.

    Now if you want to talk about ridiculous politicians, supposedly those are the ones west of Midway Airport, who fought a proposal in the Boos Allen report for community transit, and even merging the 55N and 55A routes.

    And if you have any evidence that Mayor Daley insisted on the 500s, please post a source.

  • In reply to jack:

    It's not any politician in particular.
    What happens is that the anti-bus transit people see 40 foot buses running around with few people on them. They yell at the pols that money is being wasted on empty buses, even though some of them are just starting or end the run. While the overwhelming majority of those are on Pace routes, there are a few CTA routes like that.
    So the pols pressured the CTA to buy smaller buses, but the CTA just can't figure out where to run them efficiently.
    Of course, those same anti-bus people never see the 290 leave Howard at 6:30 AM with standees on it! And the 290 leaves every 10 minutes in the morning!

  • In reply to ScooterLibbby:

    There still isn't any evidence to back your theory. The usual conclusion from "running empty buses" is to cancel them, like CTA did a month and a half ago, or Pace did starting in 2010 and on a run by run basis since then.

    The only conclusion from Pace 30 footers is that their numbers (at least as shown on RTAMS) is that many routes don't need a bigger bus, apparently in all collar cities except Waukegan (which is getting 40 foot buses transferred from West), most but not all feeder routes, and most routes that don't connect with CTA. And if any politicians are making that decision, it is the ex-mayors on the Pace board, who now are demanding CNG buses.

    And, as far as I know, 290 doesn't run 30 foot buses, Pace reporting that it is the heaviest line in the NW division.

  • And of course, not to mention that the 170s routes are going to be killed Aug. 31, 2013, and have always had some regular sized buses on them.

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