CTA invests in new rail cars to modernize transit system - MyFoxAustin.com | KTBC Fox 7 | News, Weather, Sports

CTA announces new `customer-friendly` rail cars

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CHICAGO (FOX 32 News) -

The Chicago Transit Authority is revamping its rail cars, as the new Ventra system takes effect and the Red Line south branch reconstruction continues.

If you take a ride on the CTA trains, you know the rail cars are old. But did you know that some of the cars are 30-years old?

So, when the CTA asked riders what they thought of the system, apparently lots of riders told the agency the cars were outdated.

Well, they actually listened! The agency announced Friday that the new "customer-friendly" rail car is on its way – but commuters won't get to ride them until 2016. Once the new cars arrive, they'll replace about 850 of the oldest cars.

The new 7000-series train design will allow for better passenger flow, capacity and comfort. The floor plan doesn't look too exciting. But in the new seating configuration, some of the seats will face the aisle, which many see as an improvement.

The middle cars will have a mix of forward-facing and aisle-facing seats. If you ride on the Orange and Brown Lines, you know what this is like.

The new rail cars are part of the agency's tri-fold effort to modernize the nation's second largest transit system.

The massive Red Line renovation kicked off in May. This is a five month project that stretches 10-miles along the South Side. New stations, new rails and better lighting will all be in place come this autumn.

The introduction of Ventra cards is another big step the transit authority took this year.

Ventra cards will replace the Chicago Cards. They have the same function: You flash the card and the system picks up your number and deducts the fare from the amount you put in.

But the Ventra card is a pre-paid debit master card you sign up for. It can be used for transit fares or other retail purchases.

According to the CTA, it's supposed to be convenient, and a good opportunity for low income people who don't have bank accounts.

But critics say, like a debit card, it can pile accumulate service charges and fees that can pile up.

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