The CTA has been testing new trains on the brown and purple lines for the past year and recently expanded their routes to the red line. So far, the new trains are off to a slow debut, but I’ve ridden them enough to warrant a rant and a rave.
First off, the biggest hype around these new train cars is that they fit about 30 more people than the older train cars. The CTA looks at this capacity increase as a groundbreaking advantage and has been hyping it to us like so, but in reality, we now have to share our commute with 30 more people. And 30 more people means 18 more backpacks, 9 more suitcases, and 2 more crying babies. It’s going to be a madhouse on
these new ‘extra-capacity’ trains. And don’t plan on snagging that corner seat in the back and staying out of it all, because with the new design, there are no ‘corner seats.’ All the seats are front and center and window-facing.
The new seating arrangement is a bit weird. I’d compare it to a more awkward version of New York’s subway trains. They’re all in a row against the wall, which did increase the aisle space so much so, that you could get a solid pickup-game of Twister goin. There’s enough room for you to do some yoga, hell, bring your trainer and a massage table if you commute off-peak hours. But seriously, the CTA did make a lot more room with the new design. Kind of like Will Ferrell did in Step Brothers when he turned his beds into bunk beds to make more room for activities. And if the activities consist of increasing stroller capacity and wheel chair accessibility, then CTA nailed it.
In short, I’m not a fan of the new trains and I’m thankful that they’ve been pleasantly evasive thus far, but all kidding aside, I do got a rave for the new cars: they are quiet as hell. The doors don’t slam shut and you can’t hear the wheels scraping the track. It rides
quieter than Metra’s new ‘quiet cars.’ You can practically hear the passed-out homeless guy snoring from 3 cars over. They are as quiet as Wrigley Field during the playoffs. It’s so quiet that even the automated announcer whispers. And on top of that, it’s a really smooth ride. If its not rush hour, you could really get a solid nap goin before you realize you missed your stop 20 minutes ago.