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More Space, Less Touching in CTA Future

By Joanna Miller in News on May 11, 2006 8:36PM

Ever had one of those mornings when the commute to the office is just torture? You’re crammed in a train car with what has to be 100 other people, the guy next to you forgot to brush his teeth (Christ, did he eat a can of sardines for breakfast?), and you’re desperately hoping that whatever keeps rubbing up against you is someone’s purse because you can’t quite turn around, but please oh please, let it be someone’s purse. That’s not just us, right? Right?

If only the CTA had train cars that were just a little bigger and a little more spacious and that ran a little smoother.

el train.jpgWell, kiddies, you’re in luck, or you will be in about three years, when the CTA rolls out its first batch of new train cars. On Wednesday, the CTA board approved a contract that will have new cars on the tracks as soon as 2009. These cars will feature crotch-, er, aisle-facing seating to give standing passengers, and their stuff, more room.

The new cars, which will debut on the Blue and Pink Lines followed by the Brown Line, will come equipped with two wheelchair positions, seven security cameras (per car?), electronic maps and destination signs. They will also run on a new alternating current propulsion system, designed to reduce jerking and slamming.

The CTA has already ordered 406 cars and may order up to 300 more for a grand total that could come close to $1 billion. But it’s also got $270 million in pension fund obligations to deal with. We’re interested to see how that all plays out, but we fully expect another round of recorded messages telling us that the state is a big meanie and won’t give it a raise in its allowance. But whatever, as long as it gets us a few inches away from sardine breath.

"El" train via lazytom