Yes, transit facilities should be comfortable. Investments to improve comfort can be a smart use of limited transit funds, attracting ridership and … oh, employee comfort. Well, sure, it’s good that we’re past the days when ‘L’ conductors had perch precariously between cars. And providing employees with comfortable facilities can be a cost-effective alternative to treating them with respect or paying them well — last I heard, some full-time journeyman CTA employees are paid less than $65,000 per year. But somebody forgot about the passengers.
Observant passengers already know that CTA has hundreds of public washrooms — owned by the public, tho not accessible to them. But in the short run [between elections] and for the most part, we are captive riders, and fares don’t provide the majority of CTA revenue anyway.
Over here in Illinois a coalition of powerful and dangerous people and organizations seems to be supporting a “transit future” initiative to harvest a “robust revenue stream,” inferentially a further increase in the sales tax. I say “seems to be” because I haven’t verified that everyone listed (including southern California’s moveLA) is in fact a supporter rather than a typo. And “inferentially” because the examples cited on the site involve sales tax increases.
The failure of the Chicago Transit Authority to coordinate its services is evident to regular riders. I have long attributed this to misplaced priorities, which seek to serve the interests of contractors, politicians, and certain employees, rather than passengers or the public in general.
But this picture implies that I’m wrong. CTA do a pretty poor job of facilitating convenient transfer from Yellow and Purple Line trains to Red Line trains at Howard Street, but this may have nothing to do with priorities or competence. Rather, the problem seems to be that Track 1 is in a different time zone from Track 2, so if passengers actually were able to transfer between trains on these two tracks they’d enter some sort of time warp, perhaps endangering their very existence and ability to pay taxes. Safety has always been CTA’s number one priority. (In the photo, both tracks are occupied by Red Line trains, so no transferring takes place. The practice of putting Red Line trains on both southbound tracks enables CTA to hold Yellow and Purple Line trains outside the station, preventing the dangerous practice of passengers transferring directly.)
We have known for years that the new CTA railcars would have longitudinal seating. Not particularly comfortable, but allegedly provides more standing room, and more wheelchair space. A few new cars are now on the property and undergoing testing, so now we know that:
the new seats are the regular substandard width, contoured kind, probably the least comfortable for bench seats;
the design fails to efficiently use even the limited space available.
Regarding the latter point, if there is, say, an extra six inches in the space occupied by a row of, say, five seats, it is physically possible to space them an extra 1.5″ apart, providing a bit more space. In fact, some CTA buses implement this concept on the rear bench. But not the railcars. The first pic illustrates this.
One wonders what is expected to happen in the several extra inches at the end of the car.
Below are a couple more pics. These were taken yesterday at Howard, where a test train paused briefly at the platform. Sorry about the poor quality (of the images); they were taken thru thehigh-reflectivity glass used on these cars.
Even if they operate well (of which there is no guarantee), it is evident that these are the most uncomfortable cars yet. Unfortunately, the same has been said about every car order since at least 1972, and it is all too likely that captive riders will become accustomed, and the few noncaptives will depart. (Or be made captive by decreasing incomes and increasing parking costs).