The perplexing folding doors that many CTA passengers hate are closing for the last time on the transit agency's oldest rail cars Thursday, and the public is invited aboard (for the normal fare) to take a ceremonial, end-of-an-era ride.
An eight-car 2200 Series train will coast into retirement starting at 10:05 a.m. Thursday on an abbreviated Blue Line trip, nonstop from the Rosemont station to just north of the Jefferson Park station and then back to Rosemont, the CTA said.
The last day of regular service for the cars was July 31.
The 2200 Series, which entered service in 1969, is perhaps most memorable to riders because of the old-style "blinker'' doors, which pivot and fold inward in two separate sections, unlike later-model rail car doors that slide open like elevator doors. Blinker doors were standard equipment on CTA trains beginning in 1947.
Exiting passengers unfamiliar with the four-leaf door action on the 2200s tended to stand too close to the doors, then suddenly jumped back in fear when it appeared the doors were trying to bite or squeeze them.
But the biggest issue with the doors was that they made the cars inaccessible to wheelchairs. For that reason, Blue Line trains for many years have consisted of a mix of 2200s and the later-generation 2600 Series rail cars. The CTA started taking the 2200s out of service in 2010, officials said.
The cars, nicknamed the "Silver Bullet,'' were the rave during their day. One hundred fifty of them were built for the CTA by the Budd Co. of Philadelphia.
The trains originally operated on the Dan Ryan branch of the Red Line and on what today is the Blue Line. The 2200s moved permanently to the Blue Line by 1983.
"The motormen back in the day loved the acceleration of the 2200s,'' said John Zupko, a rail instructor who has worked at the CTA for 34 years. "They would come to work hoping to get a 2200 because of the get-up-and-go.''
And when one of the trains with the horizontal-fluted stainless steel exterior, as shiny as a new dime, entered the station, it was also a big deal with riders along what used to be called the West-Northwest train line, which terminated at Jefferson Park.
Before the 2200s, the exteriors of CTA rail cars were painted and the windows were smaller. Although the 2200s were not the first CTA rail cars equipped with air conditioning, they were the first on which the air conditioning worked well, Zupko said.
"I can still remember the kids shrieking and jumping up and down on the platform, 'Oh, Daddy, Daddy, here comes a new train!'" Zupko said.
The CTA will sell all but two of the remaining old cars for salvage. Two 2200s will be on display at the Illinois Railway Museum in Union, Ill.