CHICAGO (CBS) — The CTA is using a seat configuration on Blue Line trains, which is supposed to make rides more comfortable for passengers, especially compared to the seating arrangement on the Red Line.
The 3200-series cars on the Blue Line have mostly forward- and rear-facing seats, in some cases only one seat per side of the car, as opposed to long rows of aisle-facing seats on 5000-series cars the Red Line.
The idea is to create more room for standing passengers, and more seats also end up being used compared to the Red Line, even during rush hour.
The so-called New York-style seating on the Red Line has been much maligned since its arrival in 2010, despite a slick promotional video heralding its arrival.
“That’s a big problem, I think, because not a lot of people want to sit next to each other,” CTA rider Jose Centeno said.
CBS 2 rode the CTA for months, and found no matter how crowded Red Line trains would get, there would be lots of open seats, as people opted to stand rather than crowd onto the long rows of aisle-facing seats.
“Personally, I don’t like to sit squeezed between two people, and have a big backpack, and there’s just not a lot of room,” CTA rider Lexi Hudson said.
Most of the time, Hudson opts to stand, even if there are open seats.
CBS 2 also noticed more plastic seat bottoms on CTA trains, as opposed to the upholstered ones many riders fear, saying they’re not as clean.
CTA said Blue Line seats all are being converted to plastic bottoms, for better durability and cleanliness.
Red Line seats are being converted as well, with 25 percent already converted to plastic. The CTA does not have a timetable for completing the project.
As for the next generation of CTA trains, the 7000-series cars, the CTA in 2013 announced it would begin rolling out the new trains in 2016, but the best estimate now is those cars will be out in 2020.
The agency plans to buy 400 of the new cars at a cost of more than $1 billion. They would be assembled at a new plant on the South Side.