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Bigger bus seats boost bigger butts

Chicago's growing girth gets more butt room next year when the CTA and Pace take delivery of new buses with wider seats to accommodate our wider seats -- a whopping half-inch bigger. They'll be 18 inches wide, not 17.5 inches.

This was Page 1 news last week for Tribune readers.

"At the CTA, the seats will be on the 265 New Flyer 40-foot buses that the agency has ordered for $95 million. The buses will begin arriving early next year, but because the seats aren't expected to be ready until summer, the buses likely will be retrofitted with the seats at a later date, officials said," the Tribune reported.

Longitudinal_el_seats_1 Remember now, these seats are for buses only. I was trying to research how wide the standard El seat is, but couldn't find it, despite the great resource provided by chicago-l.org.

You may recall the CTA tested longitudinal seating last year -- seats arrayed along the windows with wider aisles for more standees. My concern about longitudinal seating is that big-butted people these days will make it tougher to fit in the seats lined up in a long row.

As I wrote last June: "The “big” problem would be for “big” people and sitting next to them. With the new seat configuration, odds are you’ll be sitting hip-to-hip with two people -- one on either side of you. In the old two-seat configuration, you could lean out into the aisle and just half-sit on the seat if your seatmate was a little larger. No can do here."

It's nice to get more room on the buses. I hope we still have butt room on the El trains too.


A lot of people complain about the new aisle-facing seat arrangement, but it really will be better than what we have now. I used to live in a city (Boston) with aisle-facing seating on some of its train lines, and I found that not only does it accomodate more standees more comfortably (and safely), but it makes it easier to get out of your seat at your stop. As it is now, I get blocked in by someone taking the aisle seat when I'm at the window, and have a hard time getting out of my seat when it comes to my stop because most people aren't considerate enough to get out of the seat to let me past. Oh, and the thing where you sit facing the aisle so as not to rub thighs with the person in the window seat? That's monumentally annoying to the window-sitting passenger, as your back (and in some cases, hair) is rubbing against them the entire time. I've also had people do that to me with their backpacks on, bumping against me the whole way.

$95 million? That works out to ~$358k per bus -- is that just me, or does that seem a little steep? (I suppose that figure could include the cost of the options on the other buses, which might make it a little more reasonable.)

Still, why blame misquouting when you can blame government procurement?

I hate sitting sideways 'cause I can't look out the window, and creepy people always squish next to me. Ugh, I HATE touching thighs at every jerk of the train. Plus I think you'll find more crazies lying down on sideways seats.

I'd rather stand.

Or have an armrest or barrier between each seat, at least!

Add in the train jerking back and forth and it will be a real enjoyable experience. I can't wait!

Doesn't the CTA see that the center-facing seats are the last to fill up?


Yog said:
"$95 million? That works out to ~$358k per bus -- is that just me, or does that seem a little steep?"
That amount is about right. The diesel ones are a little less than that, and the 20 hybrids are in the $500k range. Buses have been budgeted at about $330k for several years now. Pace said that they got a good deal on 30 footers for about $278k each, about $25k less than was budgeted. ADA requirements, GPS, etc. add to the cost.
The articulateds (including apparently the one that burned last night) are about $450k each.

What's the current status on the longitudinal seating? Being familiar with both the NYC subway and the Boston T, I'm not a big fan of it... curios to know updates. thanks!

Reviewing the new seating arrangement on the CTA buses makes me annoyed. I've had people practically sitting in my armpit or to that matter on my hips, especially if the bus gets crowded. Facing the other passengers makes me think we are on a jury; so many people with so little to do but stare. Also, I opened my purse 1 time and an elderly gentlement asked me what I had in my purse. The nerve, that is just too close for comfort. Please bring back some of the forward sitting seats. This is just too annoying to sit and be started at. I don't do it so why should a stranger?

Sideways seating is so STUPID and IT SUCKS. Riding sideways is uncomfortable and standing is uncomfortable. What is wrong with people sitting normally as usual? Research should be done to normalize the distribution of busses on the line. Also catering to FAT ASSES WTF. This is all more proof that the decision makers at CTA don't know WTF they are doing.

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