The Chicago Transit Authority on Friday offered the first glimpse at the latest generation of rail cars coming down the pike -- and there's one big change to their design.
The CTA's "7000 series" rail cars will have a new seating configuration that, while maintaining some of the aisle-facing seating that has proven unpopular with many passengers, will also have some forward-facing rows of seats found on older rail cars.
Here's a peek:
According to the agency, the new configuration will be provided to manufacturers bidding on the CTA's latest order of rail cars, a contract totaling 846 cars at a cost of $2 billion. CTA said it plans to choose a manufacturer by January 2014 so that the new cars will begin replacing the agency's oldest ones by about 2016.
The mix of forward- and aisle-facing seating is similar to the cars already used on the city's Orange and Brown Lines, Fox Chicago pointed out.
The agency is admitting that when previous management ordered the most recent "5000 style" rail cars from Bombardier Transportation (pictured below), they did not get enough public input concerning the design, according to the Chicago Tribune.
To remedy that, the agency says it "conducted extensive field research" including a rider survey and CTA employees observing rider behavior.
While some riders have complained about the newest cars' aisle-facing seating, they have proven very popular among riders with disabilities, CTA President Forrest Claypool previously told the Chicago Sun-Times.