Chicago Infrastructure Metro Rail

Chicago Plans to Shut Red Line South to Perform Quick Rehab

» The change in service will cut off service to stations south of Roosevelt for five months. The move will be controversial and inconvenience many, but it will solve problems that would otherwise take years to fix — at a lower cost.

In less than a year’s time, the Chicago Transit Authority will eliminate service on the portions of the Red Line that run through the city’s south side, affecting roughly 80,000 daily journeys for a period of five months. The effort is designed to allow for the quick renovation of this rapid transit segment, replacing about 10 miles of degraded track with desperately needed new infrastructure. It’s a risky move, likely to enflame tensions in an area of the city that has suffered decades of economic difficulties. But if the CTA pulls the project off successfully, Chicago may be setting a precedent for other cities to follow.

The southern portion of the Red Line is is poor condition, no question about it. Built in 1969, the route — known as the Dan Ryan Branch as it runs in the median of the Dan Ryan Expressway (I-90 and I-94) — is aging rapidly. At the moment, service is incredibly sluggish because the CTA has mandated “slow zones” that restrict trains to speeds far below their capacity, to ensure safety; on the southbound service from Roosevelt to 95th Street, for example, 2.6 miles of service is limited to just 15 mph. As a result, people are literally wasting their lives on their journeys home from work.

The CTA could reconstruct the line, replacing ties, tracks, third rail, ballast, and drainage systems, by shutting it down on weekends. But that would take four years.

Instead, the agency has determined that a five-month shutdown, costing about $425 million and funded by the city’s infrastructure initiative, will not only save about $75 million in project costs (thanks to efficiencies in project delivery), but it will also provide much better service to daily commuters far more quickly. Journey times from 95th Street to Roosevelt Road are expected to be a full 10 minutes more rapid by the time work finishes. That makes sense: Reconstructing a major piece of infrastructure is simply easier when there aren’t vehicles running through it, interrupting work. And customers will surely appreciate the much better transit they experience, even with a few months of annoyance, rather than many more years of bad service.

The last time the CTA attempted a similar move was in the mid-1990s, when it closed the Green Line for two years to reconstruct it completely. While that renovation produced the desired results in terms of infrastructure improvements, ridership on the line had trouble recovering. The simple fact was that the shutdown made transit inconvenient for people who had been used to riding the line. Only through a concerted effort to retain ridership through good service provision even in the absence of the Red Line can such problems be avoided.

The CTA has developed a management plan designed to reroute passengers who currently use the Red Line onto other services in the South Side, as shown on the map posted at the end of this article. This will be made easier by the fact that the Green Line is just a few blocks east of the Red Line between Roosevelt and 63rd Street, so most customers will likely just switch to that other service, which is linked to all the same crosstown bus routes as the Red Line. This will be made especially easy because Green Line trains using the Ashland branch of the service will be directed into the Red Line tunnel and north to Howard as “Red Line” trains, rather than around the Loop, as are all Green Line trains currently. This will provide direct service to the city’s North Side for people on the Green Line, which will surely be appreciated by many customers who now must transfer to get to that part of the city.

In addition, the CTA will operate free reduced-priced express shuttles to and from closed Red Line stops from 63rd to 95th Streets to the Garfield station on the Green Line, and reduced-price services on many South Side routes. Many may actually see faster service than they experience on slow trains today even though they will have to transfer.

One possibility that has not been announced by CTA officials is encouraging current Red Line riders to use the Metra commuter rail trains on the Rock Island and Electric district lines, which also run parallel to the Red Line. If the CTA worked with Metra to institute common fare policies, reduced-cost transfers, and more frequent trains during the disrupted period, a large number of commuters who currently live near Metra stops but do not currently take advantage of the system because of its high prices and low frequencies could be better served. The lack of connection between the CTA and Metra systems is one of the Chicago region’s biggest transportation limitations; experimenting with their integration during the Red Line shutdown could be particularly fruitful.

All of this raises questions about the future of transit reconstruction projects, both in Chicago and nationwide. There is plenty of need for transportation infrastructure renovations, but those must be performed on facilities that are in daily use by people who need to be able to get to and from work. Indeed, Chicago’s next big project will be the renovation of the north section of the Red Line, which is much older than this southern section and carries almost two times as many people daily, but which does not have the advantage of another parallel rapid transit line just a few blocks away. Will that branch also need to be closed? The city’s success in rerouting travelers onto other services with the fewest amount of difficulties could test how much the people of Chicago are willing to take when it comes to the temporary closure of their means of transportation.

Click on the map above to expand.

Images above: Top: Chicago’s 63rd Street Station on the Red Line, one of several to be shut down next year, from Flickr user Zol87 (cc); Below: Service changes planned during reconstruction, from CTA

51 replies on “Chicago Plans to Shut Red Line South to Perform Quick Rehab”

Why not just shut down the highway during the rebuilding and use it to run buses? Oh wait, that’s not allowed.

Because that is total non-sense in many levels.

A 4-lane per direction highway carries, easily, 300.000 passengers daily on a single gauge point (to use comparable measurements).

Then, most of the highway users are not following exact transit routes.

Moreover, the highway serves other traffic beyond the city, especially the I-90 which carries a lot of… interstate long-distance traffic.

Just because you see two different modal corridors running parallel for a sector you shouldn’t assume they cater to the same travel markets at all.

As the article notes, they ARE planning to run buses on the highway. This particular stretch of the highway doesn’t seem to be especially congestion-prone (the bottlenecks are closer to downtown) but perhaps a bus lane (or HOV/HOT lane) in each direction might be called for. Shutting down the whole road is definitely overkill. (Normally I’m all in favour of reducing road capacity, but doing it at the same time you temporarily reduce transit capacity seems dubious.) Anyway, politically it seems much more useful to focus on this as an opportunity to push for Metra improvements.

First, three cheers for Cullen!
Second, Yonah, thanks for raising the Metra issue. IINM some years ago when the Ryan was being repaired, Metra added trains.
On a more general level, you are absolutely correct. Chicago is way behind in integrating the various previously private transit entities. It is way past time for full fare integration within CTA’s single fare zone. As other agencies move to rfid tagging with POP for “commuter rail” Metra has been dragging its feet. This is a sad reversal of the once pioneering role of Chicago area RRs-first double deck commuter cars 1950, flash-no punch passes, 1958, tix by mail early 60s IIRC, early electronic fare gates on the now Metra Electric 1967.

The RTA in Chicago needs to look at what Seattle and London have done with their ORCA and Oyster Cards respectively. I know I brought up that question once to a metra spokesperson at a transit meeting on the south side using Seattle’s system as an example, and he just told me that metra is far bigger than Sound Transit (which is true) but there are much larger cities with the same system (like London as I understand it) Seattle has about 7 or 8 different agencies providing different services (Ferry/Bus/Express Bus/ Commuter Rail/ Not-so-light-rail/ streetcars/BRT) And you can get on all of them with one card. ORCA (One regional card for all) The only thing that isn’t integrated is the tourist monorail. The card divvies up fares to the respective agencies based on a formula, so you pay the highest fare on your route once, and do not pay any other lesser fares, and it divides that fare accordingly to the separate agencies. It is the same RFID technology as the Chicago card as well. In Seattle for busses/ferries you just tap when you get on. On the train systems you tap on, and tap off (distance based fares)

I really hope chicago gets on this sort of fare system soon. Would make getting around so much more seamless. I remember the days of commuting from Kent to Tacoma (Seattle area) Via Commuter Rail/Streetcar/Bus/Bike, and it was easy, and pleasant (despite being 1.5 hours long) I never had to worry unless the card reader told me my card was running low on money.

@Alex Right you are. Clipper, the SF Bay Area rfid card is usable on multiple systems (although without sufficient interline discounts IMHO including Caltrain which is very much like Metra rail lines. Just RTA/Metra/CTA obstruction and turf guarding.

One thing worth mentioning when comparing this to the Green Line closure is that it appears that much of the ridership wasn’t lost to transit but rather switched from the South Side elevated to the Dan Ryan Line—comparing historical ridership on the RTA’s data library, the 47th Street elevated station, for example, saw a decrease in ridership in the years leading up to the reconstruction. During the reconstruction, ridership at the Dan Ryan 47th Street station jumped. While some riders switched back to the elevated line, the Dan Ryan Line saw a permanent increase in riders.

A lot of this is probably related to the change in routing that accompanied the Green Line project—before the elevated structures were shut down, trains from Lake Street went onto the Dan Ryan via the Loop whereas trains from Howard went onto the elevated via the State Street subway. Those were switched during the rebuild project, increasing the frequency on the Dan Ryan branch. This, plus longer station spacing, made for a faster ride (even if it at the cost of a slightly longer bus ride for passengers east of King Drive) so many former South Side elevated commuters who not to go back after “discovering” the Dan Ryan branch.

Finally. This will save WAY more than 10 minutes on the red line because you won’t have to exit at Sox-35th when your train, and the next one, run express past your destination. I stopped taking the red line almost two years ago because of this. I would be surprised if that branch hasn’t been hemorrhaging ridership.

An express bus in the Dan Ryan highway wouldn’t work, as much as I admire the chutzpah of sticking it to the man. How would you catch it and why would you want to be stuck in traffic? HOV lanes would still have to empty into clogged streets.

Metra Electric will also never be CTA-like because it dead-ends in downtown instead of running through the city and transferring from CTA to Metra Electric downtown is a royal pain. Farecard differences aside, you never know which of the 6 tracks the metra train is departing from, the schedule is once an hour when it is off-peak, and the walk from all but the closest station is a deal-breaker.

I am just curious if this will boost green line ridership all that much, or if red line riders will disappear. The green line sucks too, and drops you off in deserted and unsafe neighborhoods where you have to wait for the bus. The worst part is that the south part of the green line doesn’t GO anywhere. There are no destinations at the end of the line. You’d think that they would at least bring the east section to the Museum of Science and Industry or kick it back up north a few blocks to the U of C campus and hospital.

Look up the sordid history of the preacher who successfully campaigned to tear down the eastern extension of the end of the Green Line.

@ Adam. First, the trek from Millenium to the L/subway is better since the pedway was built and when the Randolph/Wabash station gets ADA elevators that will be much easier. As the Gray Line proposal makes clear, frequency must increase. I lived in South Shore when the IC ran 20 minutes apart all day with much closer service in rush. The track capacity still exists to restore that level of service both on the branch and the mainline north of Kensington. With 20′ headways on both routes, that would mean 10′ apart north of 63rd. The Green line isn’t any more frequent to East 63rd.
If all the talk of TOD and walkscore has any meaning, upgrading services on existing routes should promote development/economic growth changing “deserted and unsafe neighborhoods” to destinations.
Certainly in the long run some method of through routing various Metra lines should happen. Water the money tree.

Metra Electric will also never be CTA-like because it dead-ends in downtown instead of running through the city and transferring from CTA to Metra Electric downtown is a royal pain.

The main bus for South Shore and Hyde Park, the 6, runs northbound on Michigan downtown, so if you want to get onto one of the CTA lines downtown you currently have to walk a block or two (or three) before transferring. The less-frequent X28 and rush hour-only 2 offer more convenient transfers, but as a former 2-Blue Line commuter I would have gladly traded my time sitting in Lake Shore Drive traffic (time spent worrying if I’d caught an early enough bus) for integrated fares with Metra, even if it meant walking a couple of extra blocks downtown and in Hyde Park.

ya get what ya pay for.. Using Metra was an option then, it’s an option now and will probably be an option in the future.

It isn’t an option now except during peak times. Metra does not provide the required frequency midday (and forget Sundays).

Well, this goes to show that it’s useful to have *redundant* rapid transit.

Similarly, the Brown Line rebuild was able to go relatively smoothly because there are about twice as many stations as “needed”, so half of them could be closed for rebuilding, then the other half.

This is important to remember when designing a system.

Deferring maintenance on one line, waiting for a grant to repair it, and then deferring maintenance on a neighboring line is hardly a sound way to run a transit system.

I didn’t say it was. It still shows the value of redundancy. London does its upgrades by closing down entire sections of Tube too, and it can do this solely due to the redundancy in the system.

Despite all the failed PPPs, London is still decades ahead of Chicago or NY when it comes to overall state of repair or investment levels in refurbishment.

What is the world’s best-run system, Alon?

London is up there; it’s really very well run compared to practically anything in the US. Despite getting jacked around by the ideological commitments of previous governments.

This is bad timing, because the CTA has decided to rebuild a long-ago demolished station on the Green Line at Cermak Road. Please note, there is a Cermak station currently on the Red Line between its Roosevelt and 35th St Stations.

The Green Line Cermak Station, sadly it is scheduled to open in 2014 – after the Red Line Reconstruction Project. Bad timing CTA.

It’s not “bad timing.” The Red Line has been deteriorating for decades and needs fixing. The Cermak Road station appeared out of nowhere once Rahm took office – absolutely 0 people were talking about it in 2010 when Daley was still mayor. The Cermak Road station easily could be delayed further if they discover an environmental problem or the city’s DOT runs out of funds… at which point the money to be used for the southern Red Line might be diverted to something else.

Is the CTA supposed to delay all rehab projects on the off chance that such delay would result in some other alternative springing up? For example, should they put off rehabbing the northern Red Line on the off-chance that Rahm may announce a BRT or light-rail line be established on Clark St.?

It didn’t quite appear out of nowhere—there had been discussions a south loop station for a few years, with the debate being over whether 18th or Cermak was a more appropriate site (16th is out of the question due to the incline). The decision to go ahead with Cermak was made during Rahm’s mayoralty, but I remember hearing that they were leaning towards Cermak long before the official announcement.

Yeah, those of us of a certain age remember these once and future stations. CTA has a bad habit of demolishing stations and branches. Should have kept the north half of the Paulina connector (the south half made possible the Pink Line)

When the north end of the red line gets rebuilt it should certainly be shut down, it seems only el lines in poorer areas get shut down (i.e. green vs brown) for this kind of construction project – it says something about how the current mayoral regime views certain constituents and also their political clout vis-a-vis their elected officials.

The universal fare card, while useful, is problematic for Metra since a big portion of their riders use monthly tickets and all tickets are currently paper (it’s been nearly ten years since ME got rid of the turnstiles) and figuring out the method of fare collection is going to be tricky, especially since station infrastructure for card readers, etc would (will, I mean, since it’s coming as it is, just not soon) be interesting (i.e. proof of payment, conductors using hand held readers to check, etc) – even SEPTA which runs both a subway system and commuter rail has separate payment systems.

The Rock Island line is certainly closer than ME but has fewer in city stations, however ME isn’t really useful as a replacement, since a lot of riders would have much longer bus rides to/from (and there is a lot of transferring at the stations, more so than at most north side stations) the stations and would run into the green line before they got there (north of 63rd obviously). Interestingly, even people who are equidistant from ME and the Red choose the red and a lot preferred the now defunct express buses from the south side to downtown. This is one of the many reasons the ‘cta conversion’ isn’t the best idea (more frequency is a great idea, but at the moment I don’t see any money for it) for ME in addition to massive construction costs to make it work (same goes for extending the green line to the U of C campus or MSI – there is already good service in the area and the Museum has a direct express bus downtown, far faster than the green line could do it – the insfrastructure costs wouldn’t be worth the savings in time that other investments could bring).

HOV lanes on the Dan Ryan would work – it’s what, eight to ten lanes once the express lanes start. I think a lot of riders will switch to driving, some to the green (historic ‘common’ knowledge is that it’s riders switched to the Dan Ryan line when it opened even before the routing changes) and others will take buses since they need to transfer before downtown. Will be interesting to see.

The bigger issue, beyond political, is that the CTA allowed it’s busiest line to get into this condition (which is also, I suppose, political) in the first place.

The north shore main line is easier to work on due to the fact that it’s quad-tracked and it’s easier to stage construction—from a logistical standpoint, it’s difficult to work in a highway median due to issues like equipment storage and materials delivery, which are less of a problem when you’re working on city streets. The Red-Purple Modernization Project’s also much bigger than this—it would take more than five months to complete. And stations are being shut down this summer as part of the short-term refresh of the line.

Although everyone loves to point out the difference in service between the north and south sides, the north side is denser and has more downtown-centric commute patterns, and therefore more ridership (the Red-Purple Main Line gets more than twice the ridership of the Dan Ryan and South Side elevated lines combined) than the south side. It gets better service because there are more people to serve.

The issue is the green and red get shut down while the brown stayed open (granted, different level of work being done), but it does seem that certain areas get preferential treatment.

This might be a good time, however, for the CTA to rethink bus routes on a longer term basis (even if they find the current routes are the most useful).

The Dan Ryan Line deteroriates far faster than the other CTA lines. This is because of its location: the middle of a sunken expressway is a sucky, sucky location for a railroad.

Mainly because the expressway is salted, so the salt gets all over the railroad.

Yonah, salt/corrosion is a big maintenance issue for the rail cars and electrical/signaling systems on this and other expressway median lines in Chicago. Most of those systems (as well as heavily deterioriated station structures) were replaced/renewed on the Dan Ryan line during the 2006 improvements. The major issue affecting the line now is due to drainage and ballast systems that have failed. As I understand, this has been a problem pretty much since the line opened, due both to inadequate original design as well as poor performance of original materials used (both of which have been compounded by the sunken expressway median environment). Unfortunately, neither budget nor time permitted reballasting, relaying new track and ties, and rebuilding the drainage at the same time as the 2006 improvements. Replacing the electrical/signal systems and stations was at that time determined to be a more critical priority given insufficient funding to do it all (you can bandaid the poor track alignment through stepped up maintenance more easily than you could bandaid failing power & signal systems and platform structures).

So how come it’s not happening, seemingly, on the Blue line which runs in two expressway medians?

The Blue Line absolutely has similar salt/corrision problems — and even the Orange Line too (for the short stretch adjacent to the Stevenson Expressway). The Blue Line branches have also had to have a lot of track and signal re-work done over the past several years, just like the Dan Ryan branch did. What they haven’t needed was to completely rebuild their drainage. That problem is only with the Dan Ryan branch.

Ah, I think you’ve got the crux of it there, drainage, the NW blue line is partially newer and hillier (by Chicago standards) and the Eisenhower ROW is very wide. I’m surprised the Orange has problems since it’s not particularly close to the highway, but Chicago does oversalt.

Building upon Beta’s comments, the key distinction between north side and south side ‘L’ renewal strategies is that there is simply no reasonable way to entirely remove a north side CTA rail line from service and accommodate all of the passengers via alternative routes.  CTA’s Red South strategy is not a rail line truncation with “bus substitution” – it’s a “rail substitution” with bus shuttles connecting out-of-service stations to the nearest in-service stations.  The south Green Line has full terminal yard facilities, so the re-routed Red Line can be effectively operated out of the Ashland Yard.  Plus, today’s Green Line only sees only 8 peak trains per hour.  There’s more than enough capacity on that line to add all 12 peak red line trains per hour and keep CTA’s net carrying capacity from the south intact.  This strategy is also facilitated by the fact that Red Dan Ryan Branch ridership is overwhelmingly bus transfer, with a very low walk-in share.  So relatively little extra bus/shuttle service will be needed to accommodate rail riders that currently walk to the line.
Compare this with the situation on CTA’s north Red, Brown, or Blue Lines.  Those lines cannot reasonably be truncated (there are no adequate mid-line terminal facilities or yards) nor re-routed onto another lightly used branch (either because there are no physical connections or where there are, the other branch doesn’t have capacity to absorb the 15-18 peak trains per hour from the re-routed branch).  So a complete line closure on one of those branches is simply not operationally feasible and not an option.  It is the unique operational and physical attributes of the south side rail lines that makes the 5-month closure an option for the Red Dan Ryan Branch.  It has nothing to do with differential treatment of one side of town versus the other, as the media are trying to convince us.

At just about any large event – CTA can assign portable fare boxes (at the back door of buses, and/or additional spaces in an ‘L’ station, like at Addison on the Red Line).

With N O (R E P E A T – – N O) Infrastructure changes whatsoever, you could assign CTA Staff with portable fareboxes (and a Cop) at the bottom of the MED station stairs (111th, 103rd, 95th, 87th, 79th, 75th, etc., etc., etc…. to control access to the platforms, and then just run the MED trains more frequently.

This service would terminate at 111th, so as not to interfere with University Park, and NICTD trains.

NO express buses needed, and as an added benefit Far South riders would not have to ride down to 95th to transfer to a shuttle, to transfer to the Green Line, to finally get to where they’re going (3 vehicle changes – whatever the fare situation.)

Bus routes from Far South (#’s 34, 103, 106, 108, 111, 112, 352, 353, etc., etc….) could terminate at 111th and Cottage Grove to an MED train (utilizing the aforementioned portable CTA fare boxes – and set up 1 or 2 TVM’s also).

CTA and Metra might NOT like the idea, but once the PUBLIC gets a hold of the idea of a R A I L alternative, I don’t think that they will be satisfied with “Shuttle Buses”.

Also the final South Lakefront Corridor Transit Study meeting is tentatively set for the end of this month, at Rev. Braziers New Apostolic Church at 63rd & Dorchester:

I will be at both to distribute Gary Line literature, please attend if you can.

Mike Payne

and who will compensate current Red Line riders for hours longer commutes? If there is no free lunch…

Gray Line’s porto fare box plan is elegantly simple and low cost. As to the extra Metra work, since they will be doing essentially zip fare collection should be minimal crews running shuttles Randolph to 111.

WOW FG, I hadn’t even thought of that – Thanks David!

WHO WILL compensate the R I D E R S for their hours longer commutes? (“From the time they leave their house – till the time they walk into work”)

When I was a Copier Field Tech, we charged from the time we left the previous customers door, until the repair was completed.

Riders may expect some reasonable delays, but not a system E V E R B O D Y knows is doomed to fail; people from Altgeld could face a 3 hour trip downtown with a fire, accident, or storm.

The Class I MED Mainline is completely Grade-separated, and has a M U C H higher per-hour passenger capacity than the little tin-can ‘L’.

I must incorporate all this into my BoD comment.

You’re right, but don’t shout so much.

Also, you didn’t actually answer FG’s question. I gather that the idea is that the CTA would pay. The cost would be more than offset by greatly decreasing the need to run shuttle buses during the Red Line reconstruction, decreasing the amount of bus service required to serve the far south side, and, in the long run, eliminating the need to build and operate the Red Line extension to 130th as currently planned.

Restoring rapid transit service levels to the Metra Electric/Gray Line route has to be one of the biggest “no-brainers” in American transit. I wish you luck in getting those making the decisions to realise this.

Who will pay for “hundreds” of Shuttle buses, and drivers, and on-ground staff needed to direct riders.

Also – it is kind of obvious that the Dan Ryan will be down to 3 lanes from 95th to 67th, as all the construction staging will have to be done from the inner lanes/shoulders.

NO materials or equipment can be delivered from within the median, so it all must come from the (3) traffic lanes.

How do you that will work FG?

Since they are tearing “everything” up, they will stage from within the median with temporary lane closures only as required, since there will be a lot of people switching to cars, shutting lanes down will not work.

Anon- you are missing the point of the red line extension, it is to provide rail service where there is none, to eliminate a few bus routes and unclog the 95th street terminal. The ME does not adequately serve these communities either (a bus ride would be required to it’s stations as well) and rail has long been promised, as well as approved by voters. Even with increased frequencies (which I’m in favor of, but absolutely not under cta auspices) ME doesn’t serve the needs of a lot of south siders, in that it doesn’t offer the connections (on the south side or further north) that the red line does, it is most useful for downtown trips or trips along it’s route.

FG – You certainly have (just as I do) the right to submit any plan you like (or not) to CTA, Metra, RTA, and/or Pace.

I will submit the plan I created as I choose.

The City Administration gave us the popular and profitable Block 37 ‘L’ station (“The what”? asks The City).

Also the Parking Meter and Skyway deals – sure, they can be trusted with Billions of dollars.

Chicago Transit Board Approves Purchase of 100 New Articulated Buses


New hybrid diesel-electric and clean-diesel articulated buses to begin arriving in late-2012

The Chicago Transit Board today approved the purchase of up to 100 new articulated (60-foot) buses from New Flyer Industries, continuing CTA’s effort to modernize its bus fleet and replace older model buses at the end of their useful life.

“This is one of several bus and rail system-improvement projects in the pipeline aimed at allowing the CTA to meet the growing ridership, further improve operational efficiencies and to continue to ensure safe and reliable service for customers,” said CTA President Forrest Claypool. “By taking advantage of this opportunity, we are able to expedite the process of upgrading our bus fleet and avoid making frequent and costly repairs to buses that are beyond their useful life.”

CTA is piggybacking on a contract belonging to King County Metro, Seattle’s public transit agency, to purchase the 100 low-floor, fully-accessible articulated buses. Due to changing business needs, the Seattle transit agency does not plan to purchase the full quantity of buses allowed on their contract and has agreed to assign a portion of the contract to the CTA.

Delivery of the 100 articulated buses – a combination of 33 hybrid diesel-electric and 67 clean-diesel buses – is expected to begin late this year and continue through 2013. The new articulated buses will begin replacing the 40-foot Nova buses that were entered into service in 2000-2001. The new buses will be assigned to routes where they are projected to maximize performance and meet the growing ridership demand.

The latest purchase of 100 articulated buses will cost $80 million and is being funded with a combination of federal funds and local resources.

CTA Promises More Alternate Trains, Shuttles For South Siders During Red Line Rebuild

The Chicago Transit Authority is going to great lengths to assure south side residents reliant on the Red Line that their commutes will be minimally affected by the five months the south branch of the line will be shut down for a complete rebuild next year.
When CTA made the announcement last week they said the 40-year-old branch was in such a state of disrepair that a complete shutdown was required, instead of working on the repairs on nights and weekends. The overhaul is expected to save the transit agency $75 million.

That’s all well and good, but it’s the alternate transportation plan—the train routes and shuttle services intended to get South siders who regularly use the Red Line to get to their destinations‐that left many scratching their heads. Here are the travel alternatives CTA has announced so far:

Free shuttle buses with 24-hour service from 69th, 79th, 87th and 95th/Dan Ryan stations to the Garfield station on the Green Line (including express service from stations with free entry at Garfield for shuttle bus riders and a local, station-to-station shuttle from 63rd to 95th/Dan Ryan)

Free rail entry for shuttle bus riders at Garfield on the Green Line
50 cent discounted bus rides on many South Side routes

24-hour Red Line service on Green Line tracks between Roosevelt and Ashland/63rd

Expanded bus service on existing routes

Sorry, but this isn’t much. Tribune transportation reporter John Hilkevitch said as much and asked CTA, Metra and the Regional Transportation Authority what else was being considered, noting the plan was “hastily drawn” and relied too much on shuttle buses to move an average of 250,000 passengers a day from closed Red Line stations to Green Line stations.

Hilkevitch posited this would be an ideal time to put in place an integrated fare policy to allow affected Red Line commuters to board Metra’s Rock Island Line, for example, easier.
The response Hilkevitch received from Metra spokesman Michael Gillis may as well have been a no comment.

“We have plenty of time to work on this before next May.”

No, you don’t.

It will be important to allow riders to transfer seamlessly between the CTA and Metra without being hassled about the different fares — a solution that has eluded (or been avoided by) the Chicago area’s mass transit network for decades.

The RTA faces a Jan. 1 deadline to submit a fare-integration plan to the transit agencies for input, approval and implementation. The Illinois Legislature has set a 2015 deadline for the RTA system to implement common fare media, also known as a universal fare card, to be accepted by all three transit agencies.

To their credit last week, CTA officials quickly realized it will take time to get it all right, which is why they pushed for an initial meeting with Metra operations officials for this week, said CTA spokeswoman Molly Sullivan.

If Metra isn’t being proactive about this—par for the course for them—CTA recognnizes the bad PR generated from this and is actively working on alternatives besides integrated fares. They’re promising to boost train capacity and to run Red Line trains a little bit past Roosevelt so that some South side riders can still ride from, say, Bronzeville to points north without catching a shuttle. CTA also told Hilkevitch that what they’ve announced so far is a first draft and that, once the shuttle services begin next May, they’ll be monitoring the progress and tweaking what isn’t working to improve travel times.

For those of you wondering if this isn’t going to happen on the North side, CTA president Forrest Claypool threw a gold glass of reality on that.

“I got news for people,” Claypool said Tuesday on WBEZ’s Afternoon Shift. “The north Red Line has to be rebuilt as well. And we’re not that many years away from that happening.”
Claypool said he would not want to completely shut down the North Side Red Line.

He said the Red Line is longer on the North Side than on the South Side and construction would likely be staggered, rather than have the entire stretch closed at one time.

“There clearly will be disruptions at that time, but at the end of the day years from now, assuming we get the proper federal support for that project, you will have literally a brand new railroad from the far northern suburbs to the very southern portions of the City of Chicago,” he said.

TO: Members of the South Lakefront Community
FROM: O-H Community Partners
DATE: June 12, 2012
RE: Flyer for South Lakefront Public Meeting on June 28th, 2012

Public Community Meeting for the South Lakefront Corridor Transit Study
When: Thursday, June 28, 2011 from 6pm-8pm
Where: Apostolic Church of God – Banquet Hall, 6320 S. Dorchester Ave. (at 63rd Street), Chicago, IL 60637

You are invited to the public community meeting for the South Lakefront Corridor Transit Study. This meeting will present the project evaluation results and the draft recommendations of the South Lakefront Corridor Transit Study. The study has focused on improving public transportation and enhancing Transit-Oriented Development in order to enhance mobility for residents and increase access to jobs within the South Lakefront Corridor. It is the third in a series of meetings.

We want to hear from you. Please join us for this important public meeting and feel free to invite others. A copy of the flyer is attached.

For more information please visit our website and follow us on Facebook

*If you require ADA assistance please let us know.

Lisa Green
Senior Associate
O-H Community Partners, Ltd.
372 West Ontario Street, Suite 501
Chicago, IL 60654

Direct: 312.705.6860
Main: 312.850.0600
Fax: 312.850.0601

I believe the issue of safety and advances in safety measures, is a topic that warrants greater discussion. I don’t mean this in an activist tone!

However a healthy discussion on best practice and a sharing of Emergency response knowledge would be more than worthwhile. There is a huge amount of tacit on the job knowledge that exists among the Emergency Response community that if shared would reduce accidents and possibly save lives. I have dealt with some of the finest Emergency Responders in the business and have compiled a collection of insights

I have included four quick steps to improving your Emergency Response a Transport network

Whether your involved in Emergency Response or work behind a desk at executive level an active and innovative approach to improving safety can improve:
– Employee Motivation
– PR and Corporate Social Responsibility
– Overall Efficiency
– Reduce down time
– Avoid costs associated with accidents

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