CTA’s summer to include new buses, trains and station work

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All week we’ve been talking with the region’s top transportation officials about the summer slowdowns commuters can expect. Now for the CTA.

CHICAGO -- CTA riders will see some big station work and track work as well as some new buses and trains.

It started in 2013, but the CTA says this summer is the final phase of track work on the Brown Line.

The goal is to eliminate slow zones between Armitage and the Merchandise Mart.

For 10 more weekends, including this weekend, trains will be rerouted into the Red Line subway for work.

Outgoing CTA president Forrest Claypool says riders should be prepared for weekend delays.

“The alternative is worse,” Claypool says. “A deteriorated system that you can’t provide service or can’t go more than 15 mph which is what we do in our slow zones where tracks have deteriorated.”

The Brown Line work is set to wrap up this fall. In the meantime, CTA is also working to cut slow zones on the Blue Line’s O’Hare branch.

As part of the “Your New Blue Project” that kicked off last year, CTA hopes to cut the commute between O’Hare and downtown by 10 minutes when done in 2018.

It’s also renovating 13 stations along the O’Hare branch; the Damen, Western and California stations are already done. Work will start on the Addison station this fall.

There are a couple of other ongoing station renovation projects on the Red Line.
The Wilson Station in under construction now but will stay open through the work, which is supposed to last through 2017. That’s also when the new 95th Street Station is set to open.

The CTA is also continuing to upgrade and add new buses and train cars to its system along with putting tracker screens in all rail stations and bus stop shelters.
As for future initiatives, starting in 2016 riders will be able to use their cell phones to tap and pay for rides on buses and trains.

There are also plans to start as early as 2017 to rebuild the Red and Purple Lines north of Belmont to add capacity and rebuild the four stations from Lawrence to Bryn Mawr.

And CTA also hopes to start a project to extend the Red Line south to 130th in the near future.

It’s work the new CTA president Dorval Carter Jr will take on as current president Forrest Claypool moves into his new role as Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s chief of staff on May 18th..

“I think we have turned this agency around and made enormous improvements,” Claypool says. “And I think there are serious problems at the city, the finances the city is facing. I think this is an important time to work closely with the mayor to try to tackle those challenges as well.”

When are we going to see new buses and trains?
CTA says since 2011, it has introduced more than 650 new rail cars to the Red, Green and Pink Lines and it’s currently working to get more cars set to arrive in 2019. As for the buses, CTA says it has purchased 400 new buses and is restoring more than 1,000.

Is the Red Line going to be shut down over the summer?
You may remember in the summer of 2013, the Red Line was shut down for about five months from Cermak to 95th for reconstruction. That is all done. No more closures planned in that stretch 95th Street Station is going to stay open during construction.
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