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Eeek! Riders React to CTA 5000 Series

Posted by SLRT on Mon Aug 27 11:37:37 2012


IL: Commuter Reactions to CTA's New Bombardier Transportation 5000 Series Cars

Jon Hilkevitch
Source: Chicago Tribune
Created: August 27, 2012

With a significant number of the new Bombardier Transportation 5000 Series cars operating every day, thousands of commuters who did not ride on prototypes of the trains when they underwent testing in Chicago a couple of years ago are now getting their...

Aug. 27 -- More than 100 of the CTA's new rail cars are in service on the Pink and Green lines, and the Red Line is due to get them starting in November, followed by the Purple, Yellow and Orange lines, according to transit officials.

With a significant number of the new Bombardier Transportation 5000 Series cars operating every day, thousands of commuters who did not ride on prototypes of the trains when they underwent testing in Chicago a couple of years ago are now getting their first experience and forming opinions.

The CTA has received numerous positive comments about the new rail cars, including the following tweet that CTA spokesman Brian Steele said the agency got just last week from a commuter who goes by the name "TheDamagedgoods": "Just took a ride in one of the new cta rail cars. Holy (expletive), such a smooth ride and so clean. Good job @cta you finally got something right."

But the majority of the emails and phone calls that your Getting Around reporter is receiving from 5000 Series first-timers reflects (similar to the reaction to the prototypes) great dismay in regard to comfort, personal space and sight lines inside the cars (rear ends and crotches of standing passengers in the faces of sitting riders) as well as obstructed views out the windows.

The emerging consensus: Love the gentle acceleration, braking and quiet ride. Appreciate the new LED station indicator maps and destination signs, security cameras, and how the floor lowers to match the platform level when the doors open at stations. Utterly despise the aisle-facing seats; get rid of them.

As the CTA embarks on a new initiative announced last week to cram fewer commuters onto each rail car, will the management team led by CTA President Forrest Claypool listen to rider critiques and rearrange the chairs that are causing a titanic uproar?

"As a rider on the Lake Street Green Line 'L' for 25-plus years, I feel you should know that the new 5000 Series cars have the most unfriendly seating imaginable," Gerald Johnson, an architect focused on design, wrote to Getting Around last week.

The CTA failed to take into account the heftiness of the populace, Johnson said, adding that he observes a lot of grousing from fellow riders.

"You are cramped in a space between two poles that weren't meant to accommodate two normal-size adults," Johnson said. "Then your feet are constantly being stepped on in the common center aisle."

Another problem with a solid line of seating, with riders in close contact on both sides, is that people sway into each other because it's difficult to brace oneself sideways. Standing passengers hanging onto the straps don't have it any better, either, as they sway and bang into each other, riders complain.

"Standees are hanging from the straps like sides of beef transported by truck swaying with each movement," rider Rob Kleps noted.

Pleaded Johnson: "If you have any influence with the powers that be at the CTA, tell them to not accept any more cars from the manufacturer with this deficient seating. And they should get busy converting the seating in the cars they already have to the layout in the older series cars."

Green Line rider Judi Zink said she is amazed at how different she feels with the seats along the walls of the car, instead of perpendicular to them facing forward and backward.

"Eeek! Now I have two people next to me instead of just one," Zink said. "My observation is that people are even less likely to make eye contact, much less communicate, and it seems we sit closer to each other with the new seating configuration. I can spy on someone's texting a little more easily."

Newbie 5000 Series riders also told Getting Around that there is another serious cultural impact. It's harder to enjoy the pastime of gazing at the skyline, the back porches and the streets of our great city out the window.

"I look out the window less, partly because it's farther away now across the car instead of right next to me and partly because I have to look right at and over the passengers across from me. Again, eeek!" Zink said.

Riders seem quick to realize that one of the CTA's major goals when the transit agency decided to install inward-facing seats was to pack in more riders. Yet just last week, Claypool told the Tribune about a new plan set to begin in December that will "de-crowd" trains. The intention is to reduce the number of passengers per car during peak travel times from as many as 90 per car currently to a maximum loading of 70 to 75 passengers, Claypool said.

As the 112 Bombardier 5000 Series rail cars now in Chicago increase to about 180 cars by the end of the year and to a full fleet of 706 cars when deliveries are completed in late 2014 or early 2015, do the opinions of riders matter to CTA management?

"Given all the benefits the seating configuration provides, the CTA does not anticipate changing this configuration," said Steele, the CTA spokesman.

(The Blue and Brown Lines, by the way, will not receive the 5000 Series trains. Those lines will operate with the existing 3200 Series cars, which are the CTA's second-newest cars and will undergo rehabs to upgrade them to "like-new condition," CTA officials said.)

The CTA acknowledges that of the comments received about the new Bombardier rail cars, the majority address the change in seating, with most people preferring the configuration on the existing rail fleet. But the aisle-facing seating allows space for more riders and it is better suited to accommodate backpacks, luggage and wheelchairs, officials said. There is also more space near the doors to facilitate passenger boarding and exiting, Steele said.

OK, but with a new agenda to decongest trains and almost 600 rail cars still to be assembled at Bombardier's plant in Plattsburgh, N.Y., why doesn't the CTA consider conducting an experiment? At a time that Claypool says the CTA is intently focused on attracting new riders, how about reconfiguring the next 100 rail cars with seats that Chicagoans not New Yorkers prefer?

The airlines play with seating configurations all the time. In the scheme of things it's not a huge expense. Just last week, Chicago-based United Airlines announced that it will install slimmer seats next year on its narrow-body Airbus planes, enabling the airline to squeeze in more passengers.

Here's an opportunity for Claypool to send a better message to his customers. Unbolt the inward-facing seats, before riders bolt.
Click here for more information

Contact Getting Around at jhilkevitch@tribune.com or c/o the Chicago Tribune, 435 N. Michigan Ave., Chicago, IL 60611; on Twitter @jhilkevitch; and at facebook.com/jhilkevitch. Read recent columns at chicagotribune.com/gettingaround.

Copyright 2012 - Chicago Tribune

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Re: Eeek! Riders React to CTA 5000 Series

Posted by Alan Follett on Mon Aug 27 11:46:06 2012, in response to Eeek! Riders React to CTA 5000 Series, posted by SLRT on Mon Aug 27 11:37:37 2012.

While visiting Chicago (the Old Country), I rode a 5000 for the first time last Friday. At midday, with the car far from full, the longitudinal seats weren't a problem; I had empty seats on both sides of me. In rush hour conditions I suspect the seating arrangements would have made for an unpleasant experience. Chicagoans simply aren't accustomed to bowling alley seating, and most have no wish to become accustomed to it.

Alan Follett
Hercules, CA

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Re: Eeek! Riders React to CTA 5000 Series

Posted by SLRT on Mon Aug 27 12:01:35 2012, in response to Re: Eeek! Riders React to CTA 5000 Series, posted by Alan Follett on Mon Aug 27 11:46:06 2012.

Article: At a time that Claypool says the CTA is intently focused on attracting new riders, how about reconfiguring the next 100 rail cars with seats that Chicagoans not New Yorkers prefer?

Who says New Yorkers prefer it? Those of us who didn't cut our teeth on IRT subway cars aren't fond of longitudinal seating.

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Re: Eeek! Riders React to CTA 5000 Series


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Re: Eeek! Riders React to CTA 5000 Series

Posted by randyo on Mon Aug 27 14:40:31 2012, in response to Re: Eeek! Riders React to CTA 5000 Series, posted by SLRT on Mon Aug 27 12:01:35 2012.

I think that there are a lot of NYers around who remember mostly the R-27s through 42s on the BMT/IND with their bowling alley seating especially those on lines that did not have the 75 ft cars such as the BMT Eastern and thus are not that familiar with cross seating.

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Re: Eeek! Riders React to CTA 5000 Series

Posted by ChicagoPCCLCars on Mon Aug 27 15:36:40 2012, in response to Re: Eeek! Riders React to CTA 5000 Series, posted by randyo on Mon Aug 27 14:40:31 2012.

Remember folks....most of the NYC seats was just a long expanse. If you were wide you just took up more space. Chicago's 5000s are partitioned with little pads for you to sit on. Doesn't make any diffrence if you're wide or narrow, you sit on the same size pad. Plus many pads are hemmed in by the upright standee poles. There are only four traverse seatings but they are at the wheelchair locations.

David Harrison

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Re: Eeek! Riders React to CTA 5000 Series

Posted by randyo on Mon Aug 27 16:04:23 2012, in response to Re: Eeek! Riders React to CTA 5000 Series, posted by ChicagoPCCLCars on Mon Aug 27 15:36:40 2012.

So CTA designers didn't learn from NYCT's mistakes with the R-62s. When you are designing seats, they should be bench style not pseudo bucket style.

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Re: Eeek! Riders React to CTA 5000 Series

Posted by Joe V on Mon Aug 27 16:57:13 2012, in response to Eeek! Riders React to CTA 5000 Series, posted by SLRT on Mon Aug 27 11:37:37 2012.

They are supposed to replace just have of the 600 2600 series cars. (The 3200's get rebuilt into 5000-compatible). What becomes of the remaining 2600's ? Sounds like another R32/R42 situation.

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Re: Eeek! Riders React to CTA 5000 Series

Posted by ChicagoPCCLCars on Mon Aug 27 20:25:43 2012, in response to Re: Eeek! Riders React to CTA 5000 Series, posted by Joe V on Mon Aug 27 16:57:13 2012.

If management decides they are not needed for route expansion and/or ten car trains on the Red line, they might be the start of an artificial reef in Lake Michigan. Of course if Republicans get elected and dry up transit money then for sure they're surplus. It's amazing that the bodies of the 2200s are in such good shape. Too bad some system in need, like maybe Boston couldn't gut them.

A six car charter of 2200s ran Sunday. Only about a dozen people on board.
David Harrison



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Re: Eeek! Riders React to CTA 5000 Series

Posted by #5 - Dyre Ave on Mon Aug 27 23:48:20 2012, in response to Re: Eeek! Riders React to CTA 5000 Series, posted by ChicagoPCCLCars on Mon Aug 27 15:36:40 2012.

But don't all 'L' cars have the little pads? Either way, I think going with bowling-alley seating on the 5000s was a big mistake and they should go back to transverse seating like on the previous fleets.



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Re: Eeek! Riders React to CTA 5000 Series

Posted by #5 - Dyre Ave on Mon Aug 27 23:51:22 2012, in response to Re: Eeek! Riders React to CTA 5000 Series, posted by SLRT on Mon Aug 27 12:01:35 2012.

I grew up in the Bronx with the #2 and #5 lines and I absolutely hate IRT-style bowling alley seating. For me, riding the R46s and R68s on the A, D, F and R lines is always a nice escape from that.

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Re: Eeek! Riders React to CTA 5000 Series

Posted by #5 - Dyre Ave on Mon Aug 27 23:58:01 2012, in response to Eeek! Riders React to CTA 5000 Series, posted by SLRT on Mon Aug 27 11:37:37 2012.

I have to agree with Hilkevitch. They should go back to the forward- and backward-facing seats of the older cars. One of the things I dislike the most about the R143s and 160s here in New York are the inward-facing benches. People spread out on them, taking up as many as four seats. Homeless folks use them as beds. And God help you if you look at the wrong person across from you ("Hey! Whatchu lookin' at?)

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Re: Eeek! Riders React to CTA 5000 Series

Posted by Edwards! on Tue Aug 28 02:08:00 2012, in response to Re: Eeek! Riders React to CTA 5000 Series, posted by randyo on Mon Aug 27 14:40:31 2012.

Hold up..I know most younger eastern division riders never rode the older R units..like the PREWAR R1/9 or the postwar R10/11/16's..but they[riders]weren't confined to the east ONLY..

The 75ft cars have been around since the early 70's..especially on the A line..which by all standards could be considered a "Eastern division" line in Brooklyn and Queens since replacing its elevated cousin...

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Re: Eeek! Riders React to CTA 5000 Series

Posted by Edwards! on Tue Aug 28 02:19:31 2012, in response to Re: Eeek! Riders React to CTA 5000 Series, posted by #5 - Dyre Ave on Mon Aug 27 23:58:01 2012.

It is what it is..
I loved the R110A/B seating..plenty of room...nice set up...

As a matter of fact..new cars should come with transverse seats like the 110a..

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Re:Was: Eeek! CTA Refuses Seating Change

Posted by ChicagoPCCLCars on Tue Aug 28 11:21:12 2012, in response to Eeek! Riders React to CTA 5000 Series, posted by SLRT on Mon Aug 27 11:37:37 2012.

http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/local/ct-met-cta-facing-seats-controversy--0828-20120828,0,2363693.story

CTA President Forrest Claypool says seating in 5000s stays for next 40 years to 2052!! Footnote: Unless Da Mayar says differently.

D. Harrison

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Re:Was: Eeek! CTA Refuses Seating Change

Posted by The Flxible Neofan on Tue Aug 28 12:17:13 2012, in response to Re:Was: Eeek! CTA Refuses Seating Change, posted by ChicagoPCCLCars on Tue Aug 28 11:21:12 2012.

Argh, but the reasoning makes sense. Hopefully whatever order of cars comes in the future won't have this type of seating.

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Re: Eeek! Riders React to CTA 5000 Series

Posted by randyo on Tue Aug 28 13:59:49 2012, in response to Re: Eeek! Riders React to CTA 5000 Series, posted by Edwards! on Tue Aug 28 02:08:00 2012.

But once the R-10s were removed from the A line, the A had a mix of R-38s, 40s ad 44s so there was no guarantee of getting a train with combination seating. By the way, even some of the really old passengers might remember the C types on the Fulton St el which had bowling alley seating.

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Re: Eeek! Riders React to CTA 5000 Series

Posted by 5119 on Tue Aug 28 15:39:29 2012, in response to Re: Eeek! Riders React to CTA 5000 Series, posted by ChicagoPCCLCars on Mon Aug 27 20:25:43 2012.

Again, this is a tribute to the quality of railcar building the Budd Company for known for. Look at the R 32's. Just as old as the oldest Lo-V's (1916) on their last run (2/21/1964).

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Re: Eeek! Riders React to CTA 5000 Series

Posted by R 36 ML 9542 on Tue Aug 28 17:43:55 2012, in response to Re: Eeek! Riders React to CTA 5000 Series, posted by Edwards! on Tue Aug 28 02:08:00 2012.

Any one have any pics of these new Chicago 5000 series cars?

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Re: Eeek! Riders React to CTA 5000 Series

Posted by randyo on Tue Aug 28 18:46:48 2012, in response to Re: Eeek! Riders React to CTA 5000 Series, posted by R 36 ML 9542 on Tue Aug 28 17:43:55 2012.

The site Chicago "L".org has a lot of photos of them. Although the older 5000s have a simple yellow on black LED display, the latest of the 5000s has LED displays that so closely resemble the older curtain style roll signs that it's hard to tell the difference. It's too bad the NY MTA couldn't see its way clear to providing the same type of displays on its NTTs!

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Re: Eeek! Riders React to CTA 5000 Series

Posted by WillD on Sat Sep 1 02:00:04 2012, in response to Eeek! Riders React to CTA 5000 Series, posted by SLRT on Mon Aug 27 11:37:37 2012.

I finally had the opportunity to grab a quick ride around the loop on a Pink line 5000 series car today and I have to say I was kind of disappointed. They are wonderfully quiet, and the interior LED displays are large and easy to read. The color LED displays make an enormous difference in the ability to discern a Pink line train from a Green Line train (especially since the Pink line trains all seem to be older, monochromatic LED display trains while the Green is a mix). But after spending the week on Purple line trains with Red line strip maps, and even the odd Brown line train with a Green Line strip map I was kind of hoping the CTA would have sprung for something like FIND, or at least a more flexible strip map system like WMATA's old arrangement. The lack of something akin to FIND, particularly when a train signed as a Red Line train will not list all Purple line stops south of Belmont, is a major and IMHO unnecessary inconvenience to passengers.

Like Mr Follett I didn't find much fault with the seating arrangement. I am not much of a fan of the all-transverse seating of the other CTA stock as it makes anything more than eight standees per car a nightmare for ingress/egress, but I do wish they'd left some transverse seating between the doors and car ends.

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Re: Eeek! Riders React to CTA 5000 Series

Posted by Train Dude on Sat Sep 1 02:15:31 2012, in response to Re: Eeek! Riders React to CTA 5000 Series, posted by WillD on Sat Sep 1 02:00:04 2012.

What's doing in Chicago, Will?

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Re: Eeek! Riders React to CTA 5000 Series

Posted by Steve B-8AVEXP on Mon Sep 3 16:25:34 2012, in response to Eeek! Riders React to CTA 5000 Series, posted by SLRT on Mon Aug 27 11:37:37 2012.

Are the 5000s replacing an equal number of cars, or will the size of the fleet increase? Obviously they are replacing the 2200s, but what about the 2400s? They're more than 30 years old; I remember when they were new.

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Re: Eeek! Riders React to CTA 5000 Series

Posted by Joe V on Mon Sep 3 17:02:06 2012, in response to Re: Eeek! Riders React to CTA 5000 Series, posted by Steve B-8AVEXP on Mon Sep 3 16:25:34 2012.

All the 2200's, 2400's, about half the 2600's, and still net about 70 more cars.

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