Brown Line introduces reduced-seat cars

September 12, 2008 3:15:38 PM PDT
A sudden rise in ridership on Chicago Transit Authority trains may mean standing room only for some commuters.The CTA is testing reduced-seat rail cars in an effort to handle the rush hour crush of passengers.

The first of the reduced-seat rail cars were added to the Brown Line Friday.

Instead of 39 seats, the new cars will have 26 or 27 seats. The CTA figures that translates into another dozen or so riders per car.

The CTA has seen an overall spike in ridership with nearly 10 percent more passengers packing into trains and buses, compared to this time last year. And the commute is not always pleasant for some.

"It's frustrating, especially in bad weather," said Alexandra Altman, passenger.

"It's miserable. I've been thinking about taking another route," said Nouh Aly, passenger.

But now, the CTA is trying to deal with the growing pains. It announced a pilot program, being tested on the Brown Line, where 12 to 14 seats will be removed from two of the cars of an eight-car train.

"For those of our customers who take the train every morning, they're right now, shoulder to shoulder, packed in. So the current state is that it's very, very tight. We believe this will actually create additional room and should make people feel less claustrophobic," said Ron Huberman, CTA president.

Huberman says at first, the CTA considered taking all of the seats out the cars. But engineers determined that could cause safety issues and possible damage to the train.

The cars with less seating will be marked with decals and can fit 110 passengers at full capacity. Regular train cars fit 90 passengers. This is all in hopes of alleviate a long wait for commuters.

"It's not uncommon for our customers to wait three, four trains to go by, before they're able to fit on," Hunerman said.

CTA staff members will ride on the reconfigured cars to observe the reaction to the changes from riders. So far, some said they welcome the change.

"Maybe it's a good idea because in the mornings when I get on, I would like to have some room, 'cause we're just like this on the train," said Detrice Smith, passenger.

"I'd prefer to be in the train without a seat than to not be on the train at all," said Jonathan Linton, passenger.


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