CTA wants your opinion on rail seats

Remember last fall when Riders for Better Transit held a survey to determine which style of train seats riders preferred? We asked the CTA to take riders' opinions into account about these issues, which may seem minor but actually make a big difference in the everyday commute.

Since the new aisle-facing seats seemed to be here to stay, we asked riders if they preferred bucket or bench style seating in the new cars. The results of our survey, which showed riders were split fairly evenly on the issue, were published in the Chicago Tribune.

Many people who took the survey commented not only on the difference between bench and bucket seats, but about aisle vs forward facing seats as well. In this new research poll, CTA asks both questions.

Our poll results were unscientific and it was nearly a draw, but one clear conclusion was that transit riders have strong opinions when it comes to issues of comfort and convenience. We shared the results with the CTA and encouraged the agency to always seek input from the transit riders about significant changes to the system. Now they are!

Thank you CTA for seeking rider input on this issue! We hope you will use the results of this to make future decisions about rail car design and purchasing.

Take CTA’s survey here

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Side-facing seats aren't the issue

The side-facing seats in the new 5000 Series cars really miss the root of the overcrowding problem on CTA 'L' cars: the bucket seats and vestibule panels are still present, and now poles have been added between every two seats. Someone can't easily slide down to let someone else have a seat; and the available standing space is still about a foot narrower than an MTA car, so riders still must funnel into a single line to move into the car.

New York City's MTA cars are primarily 60 feet long and 10 feet wide, featuring long bench seats that span from door to door (to door, yes three pairs), allowing for more people to move in and out and away from the doors easily. Anyone who has ridden the New York subway can attest to the comparably vast roominess of these cars and the relatively efficient movement of people.

About the only thing the CTA's iteration of the side-facing seats alleviate is the utter annoyance of someone sitting in the aisle seat who has to get up while the train is still moving because the person next to them thinks they won't have enough time to make it off the train.

This even more rage-inducing when the train is so crowded that no one can really move anywhere until the doors open, but there's always one person who thinks they're the only one who'll be alighting at the upcoming platform. Side-facing seats are a great feature, but woefully misapplied here.

And now, Chicago riders who don't know any better just blame the seats instead of insisting the CTA fix the root of the problem - the vestibules by the doors and the bucket seats.

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