After two-year delay, new O’Hare transit system reopens Wednesday

Chicago News

CHICAGO — A newly-revamped Chicago O’Hare International Airport transit system reopens Wednesday with a limited schedule following years of delays.

The new ‘People Mover’ will transport passengers and employees from a multi-modal facility to the airport. 

Chicago Department of Aviation Commissioner (CDA) Jamie Rhee said the airport encountered several challenges, calling the project “complex.”

O’Hare completed the major upgrade that contains a new automated control system and train cars. Since the shutdown, the airport has utilized a fleet of busses to get passengers and employees between terminals and a remote parking lot. 

The new system now has 2,000 more feet of track,  with an extension to a new rental car facility. 

CDA chief development officer Robert Hoxie said the previous system’s vehicles were no longer operable.

“We only had a fleet of 15, so supporting the needs of the airport to get rental car customers, as well as public parkers here, required that we augment the fleet of vehicles,” Hoxie said.

The new, larger train cars will carry 4,800 passengers per hour, an 80% increase over previous models. Additionally, the trains can reach top speeds of 50 miles per hour, traveling from one end of the track to the other in 10 minutes, and have undergone 360,000 of test miles before opening to the public. 

But getting here hasn’t been easy. 

The project was due to be completed in 2019. Airport officials said the pandemic cost them time and money, however, surpassing $30 million over the $310 million contract, however.

“We know the pandemic interrupted all industries and aviation was not a stranger to that, including the entire supply chain,” Rhee said. “The contractor has definitely alleged that those caused delays and we’re going to continue working through those issues.”

The new trains will run from 10:30 a.m. to 8:30 p.m. daily and then 24 hours a day by early next year.

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