CTA Moves Ahead With Plan For New ‘L’ Cars

CHICAGO (WBBM/CBS) — Nearly a year has passed since the Chicago Transit Authority began testing the prototypes for its newest ‘L’ cars in everyday service.

As WBBM Newsradio 780’s Bob Roberts reports, the new 5000-series train cars have now been tested on all the CTA lines.

LISTEN: Newsradio 780’s Bob Roberts reports

Riders appear to be stuck with the center-facing, bowling alley seats, despite complaints seeking a change.

“That’s not something that we’re considering,” said CTA president Richard Rodriguez.

But Rodriguez says the 10 prototype cars came through the most brutal tests of winter well.

“I’m satisfied with the way in which the vehicles have been actually operating to date, in all weather,” Rodriguez said. “As we put them out, we continue to identify different things that need to be addressed, and Bombardier, I think, has been very good about addressing those issues when they’re identified, so I’m satisfied that we’re working hand-in-hand to address everything that we find.”

The latest upgrade was to ‘L’ car software. Rodriguez hopes to give the green light this spring to begin construction of the 700-car fleet.

The new cars will be manufactured in Plattsburgh, N.Y., by Bombardier, which also makes cars for the New York, Boston and Toronto subways, among others.

  • Michael Dannhauser

    It is amazing that despite almost all riders stating they HATE the sideways seating the CTA is deaf to the comment. People hate it on the new buses too, sitting squeezed next to others and aisles get too crowded to get on and off. Additionally, on the test car I rode there was a homeless man laying lengthwide on the seat sleeping, This is probably the poorest vehicle purchase decision since the 70’s when the CTA bought buses without airconditioning to save on maintaining them! CTA – please reconsider — others please write,

    • Mark Anast

      OK but whats better..the sideways seats, or the front facing seats that leave someone pinned next to the window? Its almost impossible to get out of a crowded train if you are in one of the current window seats. Also hopefully they are getting rid of the disgusting cloth covered seats…totally unsanitary.
      If Chicago was smart they would have copied the NYC subway cars…they are roomy and clean with one long center facing bench seat, (not individual bucket seats) it’s easy to get on and off without bothering other riders.

  • KE

    CTA — what are you thinking. Do you know the amount of lawsuits that will come from the sideways seating option. What about the nauseated people that will be getting sick because they do not have the ability to ride sideways without getting ill.

    And Michael is correct — the homesless are a major issue.
    Getting on the trains in the morning is always an issue with the homeless who ride the trains all night. I have had countless incidents with homeless individuals blocking the aisles and seats — as well as making me extremely nauseas with the odor that one can not escpae — but the for=ward facing seats back!!!

  • lauren

    I don’t mind riding sideways, I just hate standing. I have back problems on top of the fact that I’m only 5 feet tall and the handle bars in the front of buses are too high up for me. Hopefully the trains have poles I can hang onto instead of something coming down from the ceiling.

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  • slahey

    Only 1,380 NYC subway cars out of 6,000 have transverse seats. All “IRT” (numbered lines using smaller cars similar in size to CTA ) cars have had them for many decades.

    “nauseated people that will be getting sick because they do not have the ability to ride sideways without getting ill.” is simply not an issue.

  • CTA Gray Line Project

    Maybe once Mayor Emanuel takes office, complaints to City Hall MAY get him to prevent CTA “boofing” it’s riders without even dinner or a drink.

    It is just AMAZING how the riders wishes can be COMPLETELY IGNORED>

    • CTA Gray Line Project

      Of course this IS the city of Meigs Field, the Skyway Transaction, the Parking Meters Transaction, and the $250 Million Block 37 AirPort Express Superstation.

  • Paul F

    You know something, Chicago really is a city of whiners. “Oh poor me, now I have to sit facing the aisle. Poor me, I get motion sickness riding sideways.” Hey, if you don’t like it, drive.

    There actually was a good reason why the CTA went with aisle facing seats. The CTA is faced with an increasing use of customers in wheelchairs, people with bikes, and people with strollers. The CTA had to come up with a way to accomodate this increase. The problem was because that idiot Jane Byrne cancelled the Downtown subway project, which would have replaced the Loop L. Because of the four corners of the Loop L, the CTA has to use the smallest rapid transit cars in the world.

    So the CTA had to solve the problem of accomodating all of these people in such a small car. The only practical solution was to go to aisle-facing seats.

    See, once you have a little history and some facts and once you know that the CTA did this for a reason, you have no reason to whine.

    • Godozo

      If I remember right, it was either the possible downtown subway project or insuring that the lines made it to both airports (and pushing the L into new areas, to boot).

      While I personally hope they put in some more subways, both through downtown and into other areas, understand that what we had was the best choice at the time.

  • Joe L

    People who don’t like the new seating arrangements are idiots.

    I’ve ridden the new cars and I love ’em. Plus, what the complainers don’t understand is what’s behind the scenes in these cars. These cars have AC propulsion which is much more reliable and much smoother. It also uses far less electricity, which will in turn save the CTA millions of dollars over the course of their service lives.

    People also complain about the extensive testing these cars underwent. Like Paul F. says above, “Quit whining, people”. This is WHY you get prototypes on and WHY you test them extensively. This is done so you can discover problems on a few cars before they become major problems on an entire fleet. This time around the CTA made sure they could operate in any type of environment and they were tolerant of Chicago winters.

    Some more history. In 1964 the CTA received a large fleet of 180 cars from Pullman-Standard. They were the first ‘L’ cars with air conditioning. They CTA did not get prototypes and they did not test them. They were originally assigned to the Lake Dan Ryan and the Congress-Douglas O’Hare routes. It was soon found out that they were intolerant of rock salt, thus they had to be moved off of the routes operating on the Dan Ryan, Eisenhower, and Kennedy Expressways–the very routes they were designed for.

    The CTA also received the current 3000 series cars without extensively testing them. They found out the cars were also intolerant of winter weather, particularly fine, powdery snow. Thus in 1999-2000 the CTA had to have them totally rebuilt.

    Which would you pick? A forward facing seat, or a better running, more reliable transit vehicle?

    • CTA Gray Line Project

      Why would anybody have to pick – you mean you CAN’T build an AC Propulsion car with some transverse seats??

      The 3200’s are by far the greatest compromise on the seat issue.

  • cylon

    What does a former chief aviation officer know about the prosperity of Chicago Transit? George Krambles is turning in his grave at the sight of what his knowledge and expertise of transportation has come to…A CORPORATE REGIME DESIGNED TO FATTEN CEO’S POCKETS AND MAKE COMMUTERS LIVES MISERABLE! THESE CARS, WHILE TECHNOLOGICALLY ADVANCED, WERE NOT LOGICALLY PLANNED OUT IN THE COMFORT FOR THE EVERYDAY COMMUTER. MR. RODRIGUEZ, YOU SHOULD GO BACK TO AVATION. YOU KNOW NOTHING OF CHICAGO TRANSIT.

  • J'AVEL0005

    The issues that are not being addressed is why we have a guy whos expertise is aviation as president of PUBLIC TRANSIT! AIRCRAFT NOT TRANSIT VEHICLES AKA HEAVY RAIL . to alleviate congestion on a 48′ long and 9’4″ width railcar (cta) HAS to use ALL unused space hence a fixed unit of two to four cars with thru gangways (the authorized entry doors ELIMINATED and replaced with a wide space for extra passenger room as on the new articulated buses) even toronto noticed the importance of this configuration withe new rocket trainsets each car is whopping 76′ long and 10′ in width RODRIGUEZ PLEASE BRO IM 28YRS OLD Id make a better president of cta just with this knowledge alone! but we all know how you came to be here.

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