By Ameena Syed
Many Chicagoans are complaining about the recent changes made to the seating design of the Chicago public train system.
Over the past year, the Chicago Transit Authority has overhauled its fleet of L trains in favor of newer ones inspired by New York’s train design.
The new trains feature LED signs with station information, improved accessibility for passengers with wheelchairs and strollers, as well as seats along the window of the train, creating a larger aisle for passengers to stand during busier hours.
The new seating design, however, does not sit well with Amanda Moore, 26, a waitress from Chicago.
“The new trains are incredibly awkward. I don’t particularly want to be sitting facing strangers during my morning commute,” she said.
Ahmed Siddique, 20, a junior biology major at Northwestern University agreed.
“The seating arrangement is just strange. I really like looking out the window during my early morning commutes, and now to do so I have to look over someone else’s’ head,” Siddique said.
“I think it was an awful decision,” said Carla Kelly, 67, a retiree from Oak Lawn. “If you have other people travelling with you, you are either forced to sit in a line or yell across an aisle.”
Others, however, were more willing to accept the new changes.
“Oddly enough, I actually kind of like it,” said Brett Jackson, 32, a financial planner from Chicago. “The trains get really busy during rush hour, and the new design lets more people stand in the aisles without it getting too crowded.”
Other passengers agreed.
“The design really reminds me of how New York does public transit,” said Israa Gharad, 57, a physical therapist from Evanston. “It’s definitely more effective. I’m not really sure why the CTA didn’t change the design of the trains sooner.”
The new trains, originally a prototype used only on Green and Pink Lines, have made their way to the Red Line, and will eventually be used on all train lines pending increased funding and passenger feedback.
The new train design is only part of an overhaul conducted by the CTA and Mayor Rahm Emmanuel, and is expected to cost upwards of $1.2 billion.
Though opinions were mainly negative regarding the train redesign, one passenger remained ambivalent.
“Honestly, I don’t care how the train looks,” said David Harrison, 23, a business student at Malcolm X College of Chicago. “When I’m on the CTA I’m not really focused on the experience, I’m looking forward to getting off as soon as possible.”