How to avoid eye contact? CTA tests new L seating


Transportation Reporter

Date of Publication: May 16, 2004
Source: Chicago Sun-Times


Get ready to grab a strap, CTA train riders.

The agency on Monday plans to roll out a new configuration for its L cars -- including New York-style seats that face into the rail cars and hanging fabric straps for passengers to get a grip.

It's only a test, and it will only affect two Brown Line cars next week. The CTA plans to move those two cars to other lines over the next month and survey riders.

If they're a hit, the agency could use the configuration on the more than 300 new cars it plans to buy in the coming years, CTA President Frank Kruesi said.

"We're trying a configuration that's less crowded and less of an obstacle course throughout the car," Kruesi said. "We want to see how the people standing like it, and how the people sitting like it."

The new style removes almost all of the front- and rear-facing pairs of side-by-side seats. They will be replaced with a stretch of seats with backs facing the windows.

The newest series of CTA train cars has 15 seats facing inward and 24 facing forward or backward.

The test configuration also has 39 seats, but only eight face forward or backward. The extra space created should allow for 10 more riders per car during busy times. Trains now can fit about 90 riders per car.

Metal poles to hold onto will be put between every two seats in the new plan, and straps will hang between those poles. New York used to have leather straps on its subway cars, but phased them out.

"They're gone," said New York City Transit spokeswoman Deirdre Parker. "But we still call people strap-hangers."

We could, too, soon.


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