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New York's MTA to debut seatless car trains

Is New York taking a cue from the Second City? The New York Times reports that the Metropolitan Transit Authority is considering flipping up seats on four of 10 train cars for standing room only to increase capacity by about 18 percent.

CTA Tattler first reported in March on Ron Huberman's plan to put two seatless cars on eight-car Brown Line trains.

I still like the idea. And a strong majority of Tattler readers do too, according to results of a click poll. Almost 65% of readers who took the pool agreed the idea makes sense, as long as there are only two cars.


It was a stupid idea in March & it's a stupid idea today.
Considering how herky-jerky the CTA runs, the cost from all the injury claims from falls will end up wasting money that could be used to buy additional rolling stock.

UC, that doesn't make any sense. How many people are suing from falls NOW? The majority of people who ride the CTA during rush hour stand.

After having the pleasure lately of standing at Chicago on the Brown Line during rush and waiting for 3+ trains to pass before being able to board, I welcome anything that can quickly add capacity.

There aren't going to be a bunch of injury claims, just less frustrated commuters.

UC, are you serious? I've been riding the CTA for about 8 years now...not once have I "fallen", and I've never seen anybody fall and get injured. Yes the trains are a little jerkier than desired, but nobody is falling down, especially since it's crush loaded most of the time at rush hour. If you want a seat, go to the other 6 cars that have seats and fight for them.

I'm all for it! This is the best idea to make everyone happy..."seats", or "no seats"? You pick.

It's a similar concept as people standing on buses. Buses are way more "herky-jerky" than trains are.

I'm for it, but just during rush hours. I believe they indicated this is the only time it would be utilized.

I don't know if this is a good idea or not, and I don't think anyone knows until we try it. I am in favor of trying it and if it works, fine. If it doesn't, get rid of it.

I think they should give it a try just to spite that jerk UC.

It's a bad idea. How many spare train cars does the CTA have? Are they going to tear out the seats in the spares or in the ones currently in use? How much will it cost to remove the seats?

Here is a dumb, but related question...

Have they ever tried running trains that cover only the 'inner' sections of the runs - to specifically provide capacity for those living closer, who often have to wait for several trains to pass to find space?

I am relatively to to Chicago - only 7 years - so I don't know if they have ever done this, but imagine running a train - even a short one - say 4 cars - starting somewhere in the Fullerton-Armitage area (wherever the appropriate cross overs are available), south, around the loop, and back to the starting point, then do it again. Do this maybe 2x per hour, rush hours only (or how ever often it could be fit in to the loop in between other trains). The goal being to relieve the platform crush at those lower stops.

Perhaps this wouldnt work until after 3 track is complete, although the total # of trains through there now is lower than 'normal'. If need be - the orange could do something similar.

Discussion? Or am I missing some glaring issue besides manpower and available cars?

They're going to pull the seats out of some of the old 2200s (which are handicap inaccessible anyway) and run them in the standard 2 car pair on 8 car Brown line trains during rush only.

Since the CTA discontinued Blue line service to 54th/Cermak they probably have some spares.


At full schedules the Green/Purple/Brown/Green/Pink lines are more than enough to cause backups in the loop and a total disaster when if a signal or switch plant is having issues. I don't think the CTA is interested in adding even more traffic to the elevated loop.

They might be able to run such trains on the Red Line though and the switching would be less complex. Though if they have the rolling stock (and the work in the subway/Belmont/Fullerton) is done they'd probably just be better served by adding trains to the Red line schedule and further reducing headway at rush.

I think if they're going to put seatless cars on trains, then it should no longer be illegal to move from a seatless car to one that has seats.

Or how about this: Just remove the seats between the doors, leaving a few seats at each end? You get your extra capacity. The few seats that would still exist wouldn't block the flow of traffic in the cars. And as the crowds thin-out towards the end of the line, there'd be at least some seating.

Also, by having a few seats on the "seatless" car, you won't have to hold-up an entire train so a rider needing the accomodation under ADA can move to board a different car. (Or was the plan to deny them accomodation?)

They're already "short turning" outbound Blue Line trains during the AM rush at Jefferson Park. I think it's about every 4th or 5th train that does this, but don't hold me to that.
I ride to Rosemont daily, so it's pretty frustrating when you're trying to make a connection to a bus out there and a train only going to Jeff Park pulls in. Trains are already coming only about every 7 minutes and the overwhelming majority of riders are going to Cumberland and Rosemont. But hey, I suck it up and deal with it by trying not to cut it too close time-wise. Sorry for the rant. :)

If this is a problem (and I don't doubt that it is, though I don't normally take the Brown), it seems that the Brown Line should have been expanded to allow for 10-car trains rather than 8. Once those "seatless" cars are retired, where are all those extra people that they were carrying going to go?

Anyways, it seems to me that most of the stops on the Blue Line could already accommodate 10-car trains with a little work on the berthing positions. The old Met stations might need some work (California, Western, and Damen), but the rest seem to have platforms far longer than the 8-car trains.

but imagine running a train - even a short one - say 4 cars - starting somewhere in the Fullerton-Armitage area (wherever the appropriate cross overs are available), south, around the loop, and back to the starting point, then do it again. Do this maybe 2x per hour, rush hours only (or how ever often it could be fit in to the loop in between other trains). The goal being to relieve the platform crush at those lower stops.

This would really help the purple line. These trains leave Clark/Lake completely full yet arrive at Howard with available seats.

The real problem is that turning a train around in the middle of a line during rush hour would disrupt service.

Some of the loop platforms can't take 10 car trains. Also I don't think they have room at Kimball to store that much rolling stock.

If you extended the loop platforms to accommodate 10 car trains, then LaSalle and Library would have to merge into one long platform. Also, when do you get to the point where a train is too long and unwieldy?

Ha ha, injury claims. Good one.

[If this is a problem (and I don't doubt that it is, though I don't normally take the Brown), it seems that the Brown Line should have been expanded to allow for 10-car trains rather than 8.]

I don't ride the Brown Line regularly either, but my impression from the occasions that I have ridden it at rush are that this is only an issue for relatively brief times everyday.

Today, for instance, I happened to be at Clark for 20 minutes waiting for a Purple Line, from about 5:45 until about 6:05 PM. That's later than peak rush, but still a high-traffic time, and while I was waiting three Brown Line trains came by. Each one of them had available standing room. They were crowded, to be sure, but no one was left waiting because the cars were too packed to board.

A few times that I've been there right after 5PM, the trains have been packed to the gills. Once (again at Clark) I had to wait for a second train to board. But even that time the next one had room for me.

So the idea that the Brown Line requires 10 car trains seems a bit far-fetched, especially considering that capacity will naturally increase anyway once the 3-track work is finished and more runs will be added.

Trains are busy at rush hour. That's life. No big deal.

Speaking of seatlessness, I was on a #56 bus the other day that had a bunch of side-facing seats removed from one side of the middle of the bus.

Anyone know if this was just a random event or if they are also testing out adding more standing room to buses?

Sounds like a knee-jerk reaction from the CTA. The root of this particular problem is reduced rush-hour train service due to three-tracking - perhaps as many as five fewer trains per hour during the rush periods. In addition, I've noticed an increased frequency of large gaps in the amount of time between train arrivals, followed by a crush of people attempting to board, followed by the usual announcement "doors are closing, there's an immediate follower". If the CTA can be successful in reducing bus bunching, where there are far more pitfalls to navigate, regulating train service should be a breeze.

If we can be a little patient, this issue will eventually resolve itself via the end of three-tracking, and better spacing of trains. Not to mention the new cars coming next year which are supposedly formatted to hold more riders while maintaining a relatively similar number of seats.

Ron should just drive us all to work.

stillwaiting, I was on a 49 this evening that had no forward-facing seats in front of the back door, only seats that faced the aisle. I don't remember seeing this configuration before and the flooring looked rather new. Maybe this is some brave new stealth capacity-increasing experiment?

Yes, Stan, Ron should drive us all to work, but only if we each get a chance to play our top ten from our iPods during the trip.

I like the idea of standing cars for the most part. I doubt injury claims will rise significantly over the use of them. They are a good solution that takes advantage of the outdated rolling stock and will be a boon to the brown line itself not to mention a nice improvement for the blue line that gets to ditch those damn cars and replace them with more appropriate seating.

And no, this is NOT just a kneejerk reaction to 3tracking. Ridership has been increasing steadily as gas and life itself have become more and more expensive. This is a good plan that can work to the CTAs advantage in an uncertain economic future. Moving the old cars(which have limited standing room with seats) off of the blue line also helps increase capacity on the blue line which makes it a bit of a win/win situation. Now if we could only get those darn people with more suitcases than body to take a freaking cab we'd be set.

I dont touch the brown line during peak rush. I take the #72 to the blue line which is slightly less obnoxious and leaves me within walking distance of my apartment anyways(takes longer, but better than possibly waiting for 3-4 brown line trains).


iPod Top 10 in Ron's car would be a great idea! I'd also like to do stuff that I see people doing on the L.....like play the shell game, shave body parts (saw a woman shave her legs once!), eat chicken wings and throw the bones on the floor, spit sunflower seeds out, etc.

This would make a completely rad reality show...."Ride with Ron!"

I want all the seats in the house as much as possible. I dont want to stand. usually the bus or train bumps around and you end up falling over something and hurting yourself.. and people come by with their back packs and bump you and dont even realize it (((or they do know but they dont stop to say sorry))). i am too tired at the end of the day to stand up all the way home and one thing - those stupid straps they installed with less poles to hold onto - whats a short person supposed to do? I've seen short people have NOTHING to hold onto coz they cant reach the straps up there and they have no pole to hang onto.

Still Waiting, I think you and I must have been on the same bus. Looked like they had installed new hanging loops over that area, too. A bunch of guys just queued up, facing forward, hanging on. I don't know if there were more than 4 guys in the space that used to hold 4 seats, but it was interesting...

PookieMarie, if a bench faces either forward or back, there is a grip on it, without exception. Unless you're so short that you can't reach up to it, you shouldn't have a problem.

Ahhh...I see the same axe-grinders, wailers and gnashers of teeth are in attendance. They wouldn't miss a chance, would they?

So isn't some of the crowding due to fewer trains being run during construction? Won't this ease up once it is complete?

Bob, i have seen some short people who have to stand up near the front where there is nothing to hold onto where they are standing (in front of the seats that face sideways). they cant reach up coz their arms are too short, and so they kinda dont hold onto anything. i'm scared they are gonna lurch with the bus and fall on someone.

At this point, I'm going to say the only way some people are going to see how bad of an idea seatless cars are is to let this horrible experiment go forward.

However, there are days when you want to sit down and there are no seats. I figure, people who are standing up have been sitting all day or they just don't want to sit next to anyone of color.

This idea of turning the trains into cattle barns on wheels is going to cause problems and those who want to sit and read their papers/books/do homework will have to go to another coach or wait for another train.

I'll be the one looking for the seats so I can have my morning liquid & read in peace and quiet. I also do my meditations will seated. So I'll just leave earlier . . .

" I figure, people who are standing up have been sitting all day or they just don't want to sit next to anyone of color."

There are very few phrases that baffle me more than "people of color". The last I checked, white was a color. Where did that phrase come from? It doesn't make sense. Maybe I'm too young to understand it. It is said by people of all races. I find it even more strange than your suggestion that people would at all care what the race is of the person they are sitting next to. I can guarantee you that nobody stands on the trains in order to avoid sitting with a person of a certain race. This is not 1955 in Alabama.

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