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New CTA rail cars make their debut

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Electronic signage, hand straps and aisle-facing seats on the CTA's 5000 Series Rail Cars, which began testing with commuters on the Red Line on Monday. (Alex Garcia/Tribune)

New CTA rail cars featuring mostly center-facing seats to pack in more rush-hour commuters went into service this morning on the Red Line.

These first 10 cars are part of an order for 406. About a dozen cars will be delivered monthly, with the full order scheduled for completion in 2013.

They are replacing aging equipment prone to break down and expensive to maintain, according to CTA officials.

Commuters should also find their rides smoother, the CTA says. Passengers also will see seven security cameras on board each train and electronic displays of upcoming stations and other travel information.

The maximum capacity of each new car is 123 passengers, both seated and standing, some 20 to 30 more than can be accommodated on current equipment, according to the manufacturer, Bombadier Transportation.

Aisles also ware wider, providing more room for passengers with luggage, backbacks, bicycles and strollers, according to the CTA.

--Staff report


Thomas Jefferson on April 19, 2010 9:16 AM

daley will sell the CTA to a private company run by his brother.

Jammin in just like Japan on April 19, 2010 9:46 AM

Sardines, anyone? So if and when there is any sudden stops, there will be increased injuries, and more law suits as well? Don't you just love how decisions are made by the powers to be? The citizens are once again overshadowed and overlooked by those who think they know what's best. Another fine mess, only this is at the expense of increased discomfort as well to the riders for decades to come. Thanks decision makers!

Joe Schmizoe on April 19, 2010 10:03 AM

Longitudinal seating works best on wider train cars like those in New York. As you'll see in the picture, not everyone follows the placing your feet under your seat rule. I highly doubt 123 people can fit in one car unless they stand in between peoples legs or on top of their shoes.

The Ruinor on April 19, 2010 10:14 AM

I don't think "Jammin in just like Japan" has ever ridden the L, or at least does not do so regularly. If anything, I would expect less injuries to standees on the new cars thanks to the hand straps (which are long overdue).

It's good to see new cars on the CTA, but it also has to be said that customers would "find their rides smoother" if the CTA would simply perform basic maintenance on their current equipment. Wheel truing smoothes and quietens the rides and prevents the horrible noisy clank-clank-clank you hear on most CTA trains. As far as I know the CTA does it extremely infrequently, so soon enough the new equipment will be noisy and clunky as well if they don't change their ways.

what was wrong with the cars they it will be new tv screens on the plat forms......hello....dont raise our fairs ....WE ONLY WANT THE BASICS....nothing more CTA

This photo is obviously staged somewhere in Fantasy Land -- pictured is a clean, uncrowded train where nobody is carrying oversize purses and backpacks or wearing headphones. I've never ridden a Red Line train (pictured in story) during rush hour that was not packed door to door with surly, rude customers. Because of the abrupt stops and jerks while moving, it often takes two hands to hold on without falling. Rude, oblivious young people in headphones ignore seating priority for seniors, pregnant women and the disabled. There needs to be MORE seating, not less. When the ballgame is on at Wrigley Field, you can add carfuls of oblivious suburban drunks to the mix who feel the cars are their personal trashcan. Riding the CTA is virtually always an uncomfortable, negative experience now; eliminating seats will make it even more so.

Longitudal seating has been in place in transit systems all over the world for decades without any adverse impact. It is silly to think there will be increased risk of injury now in Chicago.

Charleston Leek III on April 19, 2010 10:50 AM

The saying goes "You can only please all of the people part of the time..." but in this case no one can please ANYONE at anytime. The incessant b'%$* fest that occurs on these posts is REALLY tired. All this hoopla over a rail car...A RAIL CAR!

Whoooop Eeeeeeee!!! Now the jerks can put their bikes on my lap and breath in my face even more.

Thanks CTA

Finally! More handles to hold onto for standing passengers; it will definitely be safer and more comfortable. Love the new electronic signage on the outside and the inside. And best of all - more room. The way the seats were configured before wasted space. Half the "complaints" on these boards are silly - those people need to buy a car or move out of Chicago. Good job, CTA.

james andrews on April 19, 2010 11:23 AM

What would really happen if we just did away with public transit. Would people have to live closer to their jobs? Would employers have to pay more to attract workers? Would jobs have to locate closer to employees. It's worth a try, this system just never works out. Government cannot do anything efficiently.

John Smith on April 19, 2010 11:25 AM

I was in grammar school when the El was still the Chicago Rapid Transit Company in the late 1940's. The old cocoa brown steel trains with the gold stripe around the middle had longitudinal seating (With rattan seats!), as do most subway cars on heavily traveled systems around the world. In fact, the longitudinal seating arrangement continued on these cars when CTA took over in 1948.

The new cars (Quickly dubbed as "Spam cans" by CTA employees) that were introduced on the El after the Korean war were converted from PCC Streetcars, and retained their streetcar seating arrangement, which might have been comfortable for passengers taking longer rides, and provided a few more seats, but proved a terrible arrangement for passenger flow inside the car.

Relax, the longitudinal seats are not the end of the world - the El has just returned to its roots!

It is about time they put in more places to put your hands so you do not fall all over the place.

ihadonly8beersi on April 19, 2010 11:48 AM

I rode it this morning no fun I like to look out the window no at the person across from me

Susan -- no, it's not a fantasy: note that the train is heading to Howard...during the morning rush, it's probably more crowded when heading to 95th. (And how do you detect a pregnant woman without putting your own life in grave danger? Do you ask?)

I have my own complaints, but I'm looking forward to riding the new train...especially if it means a quieter ride...but I'm not looking forward to either having someone's butt or crotch in my face, or having to put my own butt or crotch in someone's face. I don't like doing that when I go to NYC and ride MTA subway trains, and I'm sure I won't like it now. And my biggest concern for all: monochrome signs. Yeah, we frequent CTA riders know what trains go to what destinations (and really, if a train goes to "Loop," what difference does it make whether it's Brown or Purple? If you wait for the "right" one, the time you waste waiting will mean it won't matter what direction around the Loop the train goes!), but what about CTA noobs? How will they know at, say, Belmont or Fullerton which train to take, only to board a crowded train, watch the doors close and suddenly find out they're on the wrong train?

"james andrews on April 19, 2010 11:23 AM
What would really happen if we just did away with public transit. Would people have to live closer to their jobs? Would employers have to pay more to attract workers? Would jobs have to locate closer to employees. It's worth a try, this system just never works out. Government cannot do anything efficienty"

You're right we should let the airlines run things, because they're a wonderful example of private transportation. What makes you think your ill-conceived and not too well thought out system would work?

While those of us have to buy a working car and no public
transportion to get to the doctor or store or to work,
the state, the people of the state have to help pay for the nice new ride. We the people of Ill, pay so those who use the CTA, RTA don't have to pay a higher cost while we
get no discount for insurance, auto license, gas, and all the extra. THe state had raised the sales tax on the whole
state some years ago so that the riders don't have to pay extra for their ride and last year, the state supplied the RTA with even more money so the riders get of cheaper.
I say let the riders pay their share and not the 99.9% of the state tax payers that don't ride the RTA or never will. To much freeloading going on their... They don't have to run a bus every 6 minutes like they did....

I rode the red line this morning. I have to say that I like the cleanliness, but as we know that's not gonna last too long before we start seeing trash, graffiti and all that. Good thing that there are cameras now.

Sweetness on April 20, 2010 9:07 AM


Alright Charles lets make a deal. You guys won't have to pay for Public transportation if those of us who exclusivley use public transportation don't have to pay for roads, bridges, traffic signals, etc due to overcrowding of the roads. I think in the end a lot more is spent on that in this state than on public transportation.

Rode one of the new trains this morning and was only mildly impressed. The flooring materials make better sense than the rubber matting they were using before -- easier to clean. But everything else is bells and whistles. They are already having trouble with the doors!

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