New, cleaner CTA buses to hit the road in May

Mayor Emanuel showed off the newest CTA buses Wednesday, as the CTA begins taking delivery of 300 40-foot clean diesel buses manufactured by Nova Bus. The buses will start hitting the streets in May.

According to the CTA, “the new buses feature a sleeker body design, bigger windows, brighter LED lighting and seamless flooring. In addition, new safety features include 10 surveillance cameras per bus and improved safety barriers between customers and the operators.” The buses also will have some local flavor – the seats were made by Humboldt Park-based Freedman Seating.

“The seats feature innovative, lightweight and durable materials that can withstand heavy use in all seasons. These lightweight seats help to reduce overall vehicle weight and, therefore, fuel costs to the CTA. The partnership between the CTA and Nova has meant the creation of 50 new jobs by Freedman, with more Freedman and local supplier jobs expected to bring the total number to about 100 new local positions.”

Buses will start arriving in April, with continued delivery through the end 2015.

Last year, the CTA OK’ed a $148 million contract for Nova to build the buses. They will replace Nova buses purchased by the CTA between 2000 and 2002 that are beyond their useful life. Under the Nova contract, the CTA has the option to purchase an additional 150 buses.

New Nova bus exterior.

New Nova bus exterior.

New Nova bus interior.

New Nova bus interior.






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  • Well, I think I see a few forward-facing seats, which will be nice, considering that the trend had previously been to get rid of most of them in favor of seats that were sideways, backwards, upside down or just not there. It will be even nicer if the seats are at a height where a person who is not taller than average can touch the floor with their feet. I don't see very many grab bars in the front part of the bus, which can be a problem when the driver tells you just after boarding to hold on as he or she accelerates. Hold on to what?

  • In reply to CCWriter:

    The CTA specified in the specs that weren't to be any rear facing seats in this order of Novas.
    It looks like the idiot that was in love with sideways seats is gone, but they still won't change the wretched ones on the 5000s.

  • They look nice. Seats are not in a line and are staggered. Seatbacks might be a little taller.

    With 300 (and possibly 450) these will probably be at quite a few of the garages.

    Anyone know how much more efficient these are?

  • In reply to chris:

    Nova only says that it partnered with Cummins to "meet the 2014 Fuel Efficiency and Greenhouse Gas Regulations" and 1% better than the last Cummins engine, but those in the CTA New Flyers seem to be several generations earlier than that.

    The regulations are at 76 Federal Register 57105, but I'm sure that nobody but automobile engineers is going to understand that.

    Also, a matter of speculation, but with 300 or so,they probably will not go to garages that are all New Flyer now, which means more likely 77, 74, C, and FG will get them. However, with reports that 77 is sending newer 6800s to FG in exchange for New Flyers, maybe not so much 77 as historically with respect to a new series. Those speculating also have to take into account that the 100 4300s were originally announced to replace 6400s, but this press release was the first to say that they were purchased for the Red Line project. At the moment, it appears that since that project is done, they are more replacing Optimas than Novas, or filling in for buses being rehabbed.

  • So far so good. It appears there are no backward seats, not as many sideway seats, 2 x 2 seating. I wonder what the seating capacity is?

  • In reply to ibilldavis:

    It doesn't look much different from the older 1000s, except that a longitudinal seat is snuck in between the driver's compartment and the wheel well. Nova's spec says "up to 41."

    Also interesting, and maybe affecting the count, is that there seem to be only 2 longitudinal flip seats in front of the wheelchair position, instead of the usual 3.

  • In reply to ibilldavis:

    Revised Tribune article says 37 seats.

  • In reply to jack:

    37 now. Years ago your average 40 foot transit bus seated over 50.

  • In reply to ibilldavis:

    Yes it was, but with ADA requirements, and the wheel wells in front, 38 is all one can now expect.

    The scrap NABIs were 61 (according to the advertisement in the destination sign), now it is about 54.

    But I don't think CTA thinks it is its business to provide seats.

  • In reply to jack:

    Yeah ada. No comment.

  • On the main topic, it was entirely predictable that Emanuel would show up and take sole credit, the only surprise being that it was at 74th, which generally has been the ignored garage, both in PR and getting new buses.

    I'm still waiting for the overdue unveiling of the two battery buses, which I am sure Emanuel and Durbin are building with their own hands.

  • It's a good thing they're not rolling them out now, or they'd be destroyed by May after hitting a billion potholes.

  • I know people hate sitting sideways but the buses with the sideways seats hold a lot more people.

  • In reply to Cheryl:

    Unless you are talking standees or the ARRA articulated buses compared to a 40 foot one, the answer is no, or maybe, based on the 37 reported here, one more.

    On the L they claimed the same capacity (41 seats), but that was compared to the 1 by 2 on the 3200s, not the 48 on prior series.

  • In reply to Cheryl:

    I prefer the buses with the aisle-facing seats. Most of my CTA time is during rush hour. I am probably not going to get a seat on my ride to or from work. So as long as I can at least get on the train or bus, I'm happy. I'd rather stand than wait for 3 trains or buses to go by before I can get on one. The CTA exists mainly to service people getting to and from work. That's why they went with the higher capacity seating arrangement. All this feedback from people who are concerned about sitting will wind up making more people drive to work. I can deal with being uncomfortable and standing for 30 minutes. What I don't want to do is being uncomfortable and standing for 30 minutes after waiting 30 minutes to even get on a bus or train.

  • In reply to Myshkin:

    You are living in some kind of dream world.
    There are so many problems with the seats on the 5000s it's not funny.
    They're way too narrow, they don't improve anything for standing passengers.
    But the worst is the reduction in the total capacity of each rail car as at least 20% of every two seat section is occupied by just one, huge fat person!

  • Whoever calculated capacity of longitudinal seating on the 5000's did not take the "foot factor" into account. My observation is that there are less standees now because of all of the seated riders's feet in the aisle and standees trying not to step on those feet. As a result, less standees move into the aisle space than with the traditional seating configuration.

  • In reply to Edgewater Roadie:

    That's correct, because they forgot that the CTA's L cars are about 6" narrower than everyone else's, plus for some insane reason, they mounted the seats about 6" from the outer wall of the cars, [except by the doors] taking away yet another foot of space! It appears that they had the idea that everyone would fold their legs & feet under the seats & not put them out in front, the way normal adults sit.
    The reasoning given for this seating was totally idiotic.
    CTA trains have what's known as "fishbelly" sidewalls, which means they are wider at shoulder height of seated passengers, than at the platform level. This was first used in 1941 on the North Shore Line's Electroliners & all CTA cars built have had it since then. The shoulders of the window seat passenger is in that fishbelly area & the sideways seats eliminates that slight additional width.
    Just plain stupid!
    They've said people will store their backpacks & luggage under the seats now, as if anyone is stupid enough to lose sight of their belongings on a CTA train!
    They also said there would be a wider aisle to move through, but the painted line is just about exactly where the forward/rear facing seats used to be on all the previous trains.

    I've said it before & I'll say it again, I honestly believe this was done because there are people in CTA management that flat out hate the passengers & want to make their rides HELL!
    They remind me of the operators of a small rural English bus line that when confronted by angry people wanting to know why the buses were always late, their response was: "Our buses would be on time if they didn't have to stop & pickup & discharge passengers"!
    That's their actual statement from about 25 years ago!

  • In reply to ScooterLibbby:

    I don't know if they still have any of these, but some of the buses had a row of seats at the rear, at least two of which had no place to put your feet because the wheel well was where your feet would have to go.

    The thinking--or lack of it--behind this kind of design decision is mind-boggling, but they seem to get away with more and more of it. Everywhere else, user-friendliness is, if not the primary principle for design, at least acknowledged as a need that you disregard at your peril.

    CTA management may not consciously hate the passengers, but they do often fail to acknowledge them as human beings like themselves with needs, who will no more want to submit themselves to unnecessarily uncomfortable experiences than they would. Perhaps there's also the thought of retaliation for bad behavior, but most passengers are not guilty of such offenses.

  • In reply to CCWriter:

    Those were the first order they received of low floor, articulated buses with the seats on the wheel wells.

    It doesn't matter that 99% of us aren't guilty of bad behavior on the CTA, management is retaliating against that 1%, by punishing 100%.
    They get away with it because no politicians ride this crappy system.
    Rahm rides the Ravenswood L once in a while, but he always stands & those are 3200 series cars with decent seating.

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