The proposed configuration for the 7000 Series will be provided to the manufacturers bidding on the railcar project, which CTA says could be up to 846 cars and cost nearly $2 billion. The 7000 Series is designed to replace the oldest railcars in the CTA’s fleet, reducing the average age of the fleet to around 10 years by 2022. The CTA issued an Invitation for Bids in February 2013 for the railcars and expects to select a manufacturer by January 2014. The new railcars, expected to begin delivery around 2016, will replace equipment that is nearing or beyond 30 years of age. “Replacement of these aging cars will reduce service delays from mechanical breakdowns and save millions of dollars in operating costs,” CTA said.
CTA said the new seating design was created “after careful study of existing design, passenger flow, capacity, and comfort, and is a hybrid of the best features from existing CTA railcar styles—incorporating both forward- and aisle-facing seats.” The CTA conducted both empirical research as well as customer surveys to develop a recommended seating configuration.
In the new design, the front of the car would offer aisle-facing seats to maximize standing space. The center of the car would feature an asymmetrical mix of forward-facing and aisle-facing single seats and seat pairs, similar to the configuration found on the 3200 Series railcars used on CTA’s Brown and Orange Lines. This configuration will allow for more passengers to stand with ease. The rear of the car would include rows of forward-facing seat pairs, providing the maximum number of forward-facing seats in area that will not impede passenger flow.
Additional features include two locations per car for passengers with wheelchairs. Also, the configuration could include offset poles and straps for standing passengers on each side of the aisle, instead of poles located directly across the aisle from each other, which increases the chances of passengers standing back-to-back and inadvertently blocking the aisle.
The new design would have a maximum 38 seats, compared with the 38 to 46 on other railcars. The proposed configuration would have a more even mix of forward-facing (53%) and aisle-facing (47%) seats in a design “that promotes more efficiency in boarding and exiting the train while providing passengers several standing and seating choices,” CTA said.
The CTA fleet currently consists of approximately 1,300 rail cars. The new 7000 series cars would replace the CTA’s oldest rail cars, including the approximately 400 2600 series, which were built between 1981 and 1987 by Budd Company. Additional, later-year options could allow for the timely replacement of the 256 cars in the 3200 series, which were built in 1992-93 by Morrison-Knudsen. In addition, the CTA could expand its rail fleet if ridership trends or system expansion warrants.
CTA is currently taking delivery on the newest generation of cars, the 5000 Series, manufactured by Bombardier. As of early August, 290 of a total planned 714 railcars have entered service on the Pink, Red, and Green Lines. The 5000 Series cars are replacing 2200 Series cars manufactured by the Budd Company in 1969-70, 2400 Series cars built by Boeing-Vertol between 1976 and 1978, and a portion of 2600 Series cars built by Budd between 1981 and 1986.