There’s been lots of talk about the seating layout of the new CTA 5000 series rail cars that we’re seeing on the Green Line and Pink Line trains. From what we’ve heard it seems like the new aisle-facing configuration is here to stay, but that has brought up a new source of debate about the seats themselves: bucket or bench?
Chicago Tribune reporter Jon Hilkevitch has made it clear he’s not a fan of the current bucket style seats and asks CTA to listen to riders on the issue. So Riders for Better Transit is asking you!
There are advantages and disadvantages to both seating styles, as we’ve heard from riders.
Those in favor of a bench seat say that parceling out space for people makes for an uncomfortable ride. Not all riders fit in the allotted 17.5” seat and when some spill over onto the next seat, it makes for a tight squeeze for their neighbor.
|Bench style MTA R142 (New York); photo courtesy of LTK Engineeering Services.||CTA 5000 rail car (Chicago); photo courtesy of CTA Tattler.|
Riders who prefer the bucket style seating featured in the new CTA cars argue that without the seat markings, there’s nothing to stop people from taking up even more space than they need, putting bags, jackets and other items next to them.
Both the bench and the bucket style seats allow for more standing room, allowing more people to fit on crowded trains.
Take our poll below or click here and tell us what you think! We’ll share the results with CTA. We’ll also enter your name in a raffle for a chance to win a free copy of the book, Carless in Chicago. Take the survey before Oct. 14.
Here’s how staffers in the Active Trans office answered:
This survey is now closed.
Last week, CTA announced that it will increase service on overcrowded train lines and bus routes that are bursting at the seams as transit ridership continues to grow. That’s the good news. The CTA will pay for it through smart reconfiguration of many routes, but also through eliminating some service altogether. While many transit riders will gain better service, some riders will lose access to transit or their ride will become far less convenient.
We’re glad the CTA is seeking the most efficient use of limited transit resources by updating routes to provide better service. But our region needs to add more trains and buses in addition to existing service levels, not instead of it.
We need to keep an eye on why the CTA is making some of these hard choices. CTA’s plans illustrate just how severe the funding problem is for public transit in the Chicago region, to the point where CTA can only pay for much-needed system expansion by eliminating service somewhere else. Tell CTA how these changes will affect you, whether good or bad, but also be sure to send a message to those who can truly make a difference: our elected officials. With their support, we could give transit the funding it needs and avoid having to make winners and losers out of our fellow transit riders.
Here's how you can help:
Earlier this week, the Chicago Tribune covered how Chicago will get a taste of Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) this year as the City implements elements of BRT on Jeffery Boulevard. This is an exciting development for public transit in Chicago, introducing new transit strategies to provide faster, more reliable and more convenient service. It lays the groundwork for upcoming BRT projects, where transit riders and all Chicagoans can and should ask for more.
Chicago has an incredible opportunity to improve transit and economic activity with the upcoming BRT project in the Western and Ashland corridor. In order to provide better service, BRT relies on bus-only lanes, full-service transit stations and high-tech traffic signals. Some people may resist dedicating even a small portion of our roadways to transit, but doing so makes a more efficient transportation network that benefits everyone. Chicago needs to make transit a priority on the streets in this corridor.
Our neighborhoods need better transit options! We urge the CTA and the aldermen in this corridor to include bus-only lanes and other transit improvements on Western and Ashland to provide world-class BRT service. Our city and state elected leaders also need to invest in better transit by finding funding for expanded service that meets the needs of the transit-riding public.
Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) is a new mode of public transit that reinvents the bus. It offers a faster transit option that runs on existing streets, but with the convenience and reliability of a train. Cities around the world are using bus-only lanes, full-service transit stations, and high-tech traffic signals to create high-quality BRT systems–and it could be coming to your neighborhood!
There are many reasons BRT will improve the quality of life in our neighborhoods, from providing better access to jobs and services, to reducing traffic congestion and making our streets safer. Chicago is currently considering BRT projects for the Western/Ashland corridor and the Loop. But these transit improvements may be threatened by streets that prioritize car drivers over all other road users.
Tell Chicago aldermen to make transit a priority with these new BRT projects. Send the message that you want a truly world-class BRT system in Chicago that includes bus-only lanes and state-of-the-art transit facilities.
Have you had a chance to get up to speed yet on the exciting plans for Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) in the Western/Ashland corridor? If not, don’t miss the traveling BRT exhibit headed to a CTA bus or train stop near you!
BRT is a new mode of public transit that reinvents the bus, offering a better experience with the reliability, efficiency and speed of a train. The CTA, in partnership with the Chicago Department of Transportation and the Federal Transit Administration, is performing a planning study to explore options for a variety of Bus Rapid Transit features and service on both Western and Ashland Avenues.
The Active Transportation Alliance, Metropolitan Planning Council and Chicago Architecture Foundation are partnering to bring a mobile BRT exhibit to transit riders. The exhibit is a condensed version of the Bus Rapid Transit: Next Stop Chicago exhibit currently on display at the Chicago Architecture Foundation, 224 S. Michigan Ave., 9:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily. It’s a fun way to learn about Chicago’s plans to improve transit and an opportunity to get involved in support of BRT. The three-day traveling exhibit will end with an evening happy hour exhibit and celebration.
Find information about BRT in Chicago at http://www.brtchicago.com. Transit riders can take action online in support of Bus Rapid Transit here.
Tue., Aug. 7
4-6 p.m. Western bus stop at Addison (west side of street)
4-6 p.m. Ashland bus stop at 79th (west side of street)
Wed., Aug. 8
4-6 p.m. Western Orange Line CTA (outside station)
4-6 p.m. Ashland bus stop at 18th (east side of street)
Thur., Aug. 9
4-6 p.m. Western Brown Line CTA (outside station)
4-6 p.m. Division Blue Line CTA (outside station)
6:30-8 p.m. Bus Rapid Transit Happy Hour Exhibit at Bad Dog Tavern (4535 N. Lincoln Ave., Chicago)
Last week I attended the Metra Strategic Plan Open House in DuPage County on behalf of Riders for Better Transit. These meetings, which began July 10 and have been held all over the RTA region, continue this week and next. Find the one nearest to you here.
As I disembarked from the Union Pacific West line train in Glen Ellyn, I was happy to find Metra employees at the station, reminding riders of the meeting and showing them the way to the Glen Ellyn Village Hall. Inside, there were several display boards outlining the process Metra has undertaken to create its strategic plan as well as interactive opportunities for riders to vote on projects and they feel Metra should prioritize.
The walk-through set up was similar to presentations often seen at CTA open houses. Plenty of Metra officials were on hand to answer any questions about the Strategic Plan and how providing your comments can help shape it.
Metra Executive Director Alex Clifford was present at the meeting as well. After talking with Riders for Better Transit supporters who attended some of the other Strategic Plan Open Houses, it’s clear he is doing his best to be present at as many of these meetings as possible. I had an opportunity to talk to Director Clifford about Riders for Better Transit’s comments on the Strategic Plan.
A strategic plan for Metra has the potential to be a great tool in lobbying for better transit for city and suburban riders alike. The process that Metra is going through to include public opinion provides a great opportunity for transit riders to make sure that the strategic plan is centered on their needs. We have a few suggestions that place the transit rider front and center.
1. Avoid service cuts at all costs, and keep fare increases to an absolute minimum. Fare increases should not outpace inflation and should happen in small incrememnts, not like the 25% increase riders saw recently.
2. Work closely with partner transit agancies CTA and Pace. Riders would like to see better coordination of bus connections, fare collections, and transfer fees. More feeder bus connections to Metra stations, including bus-only lanes and Bus Rapid Transit, would make it easier and faster to travel by transit door-to-door.
3. Work with the local municipalities where Metra stations are located to provide better bike and pedestrian access, making stations “complete.” Consider these multimodal improvements instead of adding more parking to Metra stations because it encourages more transit-oriented development and eliminates the need to drive the last mile to your home or office.
Give your input
Metra continues to hold meetings throughout the region this week and next. Stop by, talk to Director Clifford, and give your input on the agency's plans. If you can't make it to a meeting, you can submit comments through this online survey.
Active Trans' transit partners are organizing a celebration encouraging residents throughout the region to Dump the Pump!
Leave the car at home in favor of public transportation. See how much money you save on gas and how easy public transit is!
Show your support for public transportation. Join us at the rally and be sure to check out Dump the Pump on Facebook.
On the Facebook page, you can share what you'll do with the $12,000 each year you save by riding transit and be entered to win a Kindle, an IPod Shuffle or a Transportation Package!
Last week, Bike to Work Week swept through the Northern Suburbs. It was perfect weather for celebrating all the active folks commuting by bikes and taking transit.
As it did in the City of Chicago, Active Trans set up a series of Bike Pit Stops in suburban communities to celebrate those who bike to work and offer encouragement those who still need a nudge.
During the course of the week, Active Trans staff and volunteers handed out 300 goodie bags at Bike Pit Stops in Northbrook, Wilmette, Deerfield, Des Plaines, Arlington Heights, Evanston and at Northwestern University.
We signed up over 60 people for the Riders for Better Transit campaign. We partnered with a host of local businesses and organizations, including the 1027 Bike Shop, Rotary Club International, Evanston Bicycle Club, Arlington Heights Bike and Pedestrian Commission, Wilmette Bicycle Task Force, Midtown Athletic Club, George Garner Cyclery, Northbrook Bicycle Task Force, and all the village governments.
The photos feature some of people who helped out with the Pit Stops and people who stopped in to chat, get goodie bags and learn about biking to work. Thanks to all for helping to spread the word about the benefits and joys of active transportation.
In case you missed the big story, last week CTA announced its plans for the long-overdue project of rebuilding of the South Side Red Line. The tracks are over 40 years old and need full replacement, which anyone who rides south of the Cermak/Chinatown stop can tell you because the slow zones mean the train is creeping along.
CTA announced that to do this work quickly and efficiently, it plans to close the Red Line south of Cermak/Chinatown for 5 months in spring of 2013 until the work is complete. While this part of the Red Line is closed, CTA will be providing alternative transit routes.
Slow zones must be addressed
The work that’s being done is absolutely essential to improve public transit in Chicago. According to CTA, up to 40 percent of the Dan Ryan Red Line is operating as a slow zone.
This is higher than any part of our rail system and much higher than the North Side of the Red Line (CTA’s May 2012 slow zone map shows the North Side Red Line with only 16.6 percent slow zones).
The South Side Red Line also has the highest amount of severe slow zones where trains meant to run 40-50 mph are instead running at 15 mph.
We believe in equitable transportation
Unaddressed, these slow zones are creating a real disparity in our transit network between the North Side of the city and the South. Right now, riders on the North Side are experiencing better and faster public transportation than those on the South Side of the city. We believe in equitable transportation and to do that, transit needs to be fast and accessible everywhere…especially on the Red Line.
Several community organizations and local aldermen have spoken in favor of the plan for the 5 month closure, since it means getting the tracks fixed quickly as opposed to four years of weekend service changes. It also means bringing jobs to South Side communities and a less costly rehab process.
Closures should create minimal disruption
In the process of bringing the South Red Line up to speed, Riders for Better Transit feels that the CTA must work hard to provide as close to the same level of service as possible for South Side riders. We want to make sure that the CTA is listening to riders about the best way to provide alternate service while the Red Line is closed.
CTA, for example, might use express buses and temporary bus lanes to move riders more quickly than typical bus service during the closure. Also, Active Trans has urged the Chicago Department of Transportation to complete new South Side protected bike lanes, and thereby encourage biking as an alternative to taking the Red Line.
Share your thoughts
The CTA wants to hear from you about the best way to do this! They will be holding meetings this summer to talk about the re-routes and Riders for Better Transit will keep you informed. Riders for Better Transit is planning to speak to passengers at stations along the Red Line to hear what you have to say.
Do you like the way they have planned the re-route? Let us know! Join Riders for Better Transit to tell us more about how this project will affect you.
Following the Metra fare hike earlier this year, Riders for Better Transit has been monitoring the looming possibility of another round of fare increases and service cuts for CTA.
Fortunately for riders, it sounds like the CTA will be able avoid service cuts and fare hikes this year. However, it's unlikely the CTA will be able to dodget this bullet next year.
One of our Facebook followers commented on this news, "Now if we could only find money to restore the service cuts from two years ago." We agree. It's such a struggle for our region just to maintain current transit service, but our public transportation system should be moving forward, not backward!
Let's aim for better transit, not just keeping what we have. We need to increase investment in transit in our region.
Ultimately, the recurring transit budget crisis is the responsibility of our elected leaders who have put transit on the back burner.
We transit riders need to speak up together and send a loud and clear message to Springfield and Washington that transit needs to be a priority. Let's get their attention before service cuts and fare hikes are proposed for next year! You can take action now by sending a message to Congress here.