Only 40 of the 706 new rail cars that the CTA ordered are in service and already retrofits are being planned to improve the experience of customers, transit officials said today.
Full-color LED destination signs will be added to the front and sides of all new rail cars, inside and outside, to match the corresponding color-coded rail lines, officials said.
The 40 new 5000 Series cars currently in service exclusively on the Pink Line are equipped with yellow LED signs, which can be confusing to customers.
The destination signs say “Cermak’’ or “Loop’’ to designate whether the trains are inbound or outbound. But they lack a pink color-coding or other identifying information to let riders waiting on platforms know that the trains operate on the Pink Line.
“Full-color LEDs were not commercially available when the technical specifications were written, but they are now readily available at a reasonable cost,’’ said CTA spokesman Brian Steele.
The color LED signs (blue, brown, green, orange, pink, purple, red and yellow, for each of the eight lines) will be installed on all 706 cars by the fall of 2012, he said.
In addition, a fiber protector will be applied on all rail car cloth seats to ward off the growth of bacteria and fungi and provide resistancy to stains, officials said.
“New seat cloth with anti-stain and anti-microbial fiber protector incorporated into the fabric was not yet developed when the original specification was prepared’’ in 2006, Steele said.
Other upgrades include modifications to audio and video communication equipment and federally mandated changes to high-efficiency motors on the trains, which are manufactured in Plattsburgh, N.Y., by Bombardier Transportation, officials said.
The changes will cost a total of about $8.5 million, according to CTA procurement records, but the transit agency will not pay the additional amount because credits were factored into the $1.137 billion contract, said CTA spokeswoman Molly Sullivan.
The new rail cars feature alternating current propulsion to deliver a smoother ride, electronic route maps, security cameras and aisle-facing seats. Delivery of all 706 cars is scheduled through 2014, officials said.
The new fleet will replace trains that were manufactured between 1969 and 1978.
The new cars also will be equipped with a suspension system that levels the car floor with platforms at stations so that people using wheelchairs can board and exit without using ramps, which contribute to excessive dwell times at stations, officials said.
Also on Wednesday, the CTA board approved the installation of electric vehicle chargers at the Kimball/Lawrence park-and-ride lot near the Brown Line Kimball station.
Four charging stations will serve electric vehicles used by I-Go and Zipcar car-sharing services.Copyright © 2015, CT Now