CHICAGO — Metra announced this week that it will be installing new, modern seats in railcars it rehabilitates and new railcars it purchases, according to a news release from the company.
According to the release, the commuter railroad company used a yearlong pilot program to gather input from customers about what they did and did not like regarding the old and new seats. The new style will include armrests, built-in cup holders and better head, neck and lumbar support.
“This was not an easy choice to make because we know that many of our customers like the older, bench-style seats,” said Metra Executive Director/CEO Don Orseno. “But we received some great input from our customers that we will incorporate into the next design that will make the new seats even more comfortable.”
Those who were surveyed requested the headrests and armrests be improved from the old style, and an additional armrest be added to seats on the aisle. The new seats will not affect the width of the aisle - some survey respondents were concerned they might.
And, never fear, the cup holders will be big enough to hold large-sized drinks.
But what about the direction these new seats will face?
According to the release, "most respondents indicated they were unsatisfied with the direction the new seats face (the stationary design means that half of seats face backwards), however, the majority of customers who had an opinion about the new seats were satisfied with both their comfort and size."
USB ports and power outlets will also continue to be installed in railcars.
The release states that replacing the new seats in future rehabilitations will cost roughly 50 percent less than replacing the old ones because parts can be reused, and more manufacturers exist for the new style - hopefully driving down costs. It goes on to say that only seats that already needed to be replaced will be swapped out for the new and improved version.
"The agency also hopes that the new, stationary design will help prevent injuries to customers and employees who pinch their fingers and strain muscles flipping the older seats back and forth," the release states.