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FAQ

Military Service Pass

Am I eligible for a Military Service Pass?

What is required to confirm my eligibility?

How and where do I obtain my Military Service Pass?

What if I am on active duty and in uniform?

How do I use my Military Service Pass to get free transit?

I am retired from the military. Am I eligible for a Military Service Pass?

How do I replace my lost, stolen or damaged MSP?

U-Pass

Who is participating in the U-Pass program?

Where can I go with my U-Pass?

What if my U-Pass is lost or stolen?

How often can I use my U-Pass per day?

Can I share my U-Pass with my friends?

I drive--does the U-Pass have any benefits for me?

Where can I call for directions?

Who can I contact if I have a question about my U-Pass?

How can my school participate in the U-Pass program?

What happens to leftover transit value on my U-Pass from between school sessions?

Will I get a new Ventra U-Pass card with each new school term?

History and Facts

When did the CTA begin operation?

Where is CTA Headquarters located?

Procurement

What is a bid?

Does a vendor need to be pre-qualified to bid?

How does a vendor become pre-qualified to bid, and how often does the vendor need to renew its pre-qualified status?

Can I apply to become a CTA Vendor On-line?

Does a vendor need to pay for bid specifications?

Can bids be faxed?

When are bids opened?

What disqualifies a bid?

When will the contract be awarded?

Do I need to bid through a DBE?

What is a Disadvantaged Business Enterprise (DBE)?

Where do I find a DBE firm to use?

Who are approved DBE's?

Can I apply and/or maintain my DBE Certification On-line?

I'm a certified DBE with the City of Chicago/the Illinois Department of Transportation/Metra/ Pace, am I also certified with CTA?

What is the Illinois Unified Certification Program (IL UCP)?

How do I fill out Schedules C and D?

How do I get my product approved?

Please explain the difference between purchases over and under $10,000.00?

Is everything that CTA purchases posted on the website?

Slow Zone Elimination

What goes into laying 'L' tracks?

Why are there slow zones on the 'L'?

Orange Line Extension Project

Why does the Orange Line need to be extended?

How would CTA fund this proposed project?

When would the extended Orange Line be open for use?

When would construction begin on the proposed Orange Line extension?

What will be the operating hours for the proposed extension?

Would CTA need to buy private property because of the location of the proposed extension?

Will there be places to park near the new station?

How would this proposed extension affect the natural environment and the community?

How would this proposed extension impact noise in the community?

What is the economic impact of this proposed extension?

Would this proposed extension help reduce traffic congestion?

Why is the CTA extending transportation to the Ford City Mall when it could be closed in three years?

Red Line Extension Project

How would CTA fund this proposed project?

When would the extended Red Line be open for use?

When would construction begin on the proposed Red Line extension?

What will be the operating hours for the proposed extension?

Would CTA need to buy private property because of the location of the proposed extension?

Will there be places to park near the new stations?

How would this proposed extension affect the natural environment and the community?

How would this proposed extension impact noise in the community?

What is the economic impact of this proposed extension?

How would the proposed Red Line extension effect current CTA services, both during construction of the new service and during operation of the new service?

Is it possible that at some point this proposed Red Line extension could go even farther to the Gary Airport and South Bend, Ind.?

If the CTA already has a Locally Preferred Alternative, why is the Draft Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) still studying three other alternatives?

For the Locally Preferred Alternative near the Union Pacific Railroad tracks, has CTA talked with Union Pacific representatives?

Can you do Preliminary Engineering at the same time you are drafting the Environmental Impact Statement?

How does work on the other Your Red projects affect progress on the Red Line Extension?

What portion of the extension would be elevated?

Can this extension connect to existing Metra Electric or South Shore services?

Is CTA coordinating with Metra on the Red Line Extension?

Yellow Line Extension Project

How would CTA fund this proposed project?

When would construction begin on the proposed Yellow Line extension?

When would the extended Yellow Line be open for use?

What will be the operating hours for the proposed extension?

Will there be places to park near the new station?

How would this proposed extension affect the natural environment and the community?

How would this proposed extension impact noise in the community?

What is the economic impact of this proposed extension?

Would this proposed extension help reduce traffic congestion?

Where can I find additional information about a station on the Yellow Line at Oakton Street?

Open Fare System

What's an Open Fare system?

What is a contactless card?

Will I have to get new contactless cards, or does my current credit/debit cards already contain chips that allow for that?

What will I need to do to get my credit card to work?

When will Chicago Cards, Chicago Card Plus cards and magnetic stripe transit cards disappear?

I don’t have a credit or debit card. What are my options?

Where will I be able to buy these new "general purpose, reloadable" cards?

Will the general purpose reloadable cards contain a set amount of value? Will different denominations be available for purchase?

Will the general purpose reloadable cards have the capability of being recharged? If not, how do you avoid having a small balance (not enough to pay for a fare) left on each card?

How will reduced fares work with the credit/debit and general purpose reloadable cards? Will the cards require the continued use of a RTA reduced-fare permit?

I have a senior/reduced fare card. What will I need to do?

How will the new system work with Pace?

Will there be any limits on what type of credit or debit cards can be used to pay fares on CTA?

Will there be a feature like Chicago Card Plus, with a set amount that is automatically reloaded whenever the value goes below a certain threshold?

Will credit/debit card owners be protected from responsibility for fraudulent use if they lose their cards?


Military Service Pass

Q: Am I eligible for a Military Service Pass?
A: You are eligible for a Military Service Pass if you qualify as:

  • Chicago area active duty military personnel and possess an Armed Forces ID Card;
  • An actively drilling member of the National Guard and Reserves who possesses an Armed Forces ID card or a member of the Coast Guard with appropriate identification.
  • A Chicago area disabled veteran who has a qualifying service-connected disability and can provide proof that: you are in receipt of United States Department of Veterans’ Affairs (USDVA) disability compensation of 10% or greater; or you are receiving military disability retirement pay in lieu of USDVA compensation at a rate of 10% or greater.

 

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Q: What is required to confirm my eligibility?
A:
  • For active duty military personnel, an Armed Forces ID card.
  • For disabled veterans, an official letter from the USDVA indicating eligibility for a qualifying service-connected disability payment as outlined above, along with a valid state ID card.

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Q: How and where do I obtain my Military Service Pass?
A: The current Military Service Pass is being switched over to the new Ventra Military Service Pass starting Monday, November 4th. Veterans who need a pass for the first time should go to these locations, which also are locations where existing cardholders can get a new card.

November 4 (Monday) and 5 (Tuesday), 8:00AM to 4:30PM
Illinois Department of Veterans’ Affairs
James R. Thompson Center
100 W. Randolph St.
Auditorium – Concourse Level
Chicago, IL 60601

November 11 (Monday) and 12 (Tuesday), 8:00AM to 4:30PM
Jesse Brown VA Medical Center
820 S. Damen Ave.
Room 2446
Chicago, IL 60612

November 14 (Thursday) and 15 (Friday), 8:00AM to 4:30PM
and
November 26 (Tuesday) and 27 (Wednesday), 8:00AM to 4:30PM

Chicago Transit Authority
567 W. Lake St.
Conference Rooms A, B, C – 2nd Floor
Chicago, IL 60661

After November 27, 2013
Ventra Customer Service Center
165 N. Jefferson St.
Hours and more information

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Q: What if I am on active duty and in uniform?
A: You can ride for free and do not need to use your Military Service Pass. However, if you are on active duty but not in uniform, you must have a Military Service Pass in order to ride for free.

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Q: How do I use my Military Service Pass to get free transit?
A: Tap your Ventra Military Service Pass to the lower portion of the Ventra reader, which is prominent as you enter the bus and is on top of the turnstile at 'L' stations.

If still using an old magnetic stripe Military Service Pass, insert the card into the farecard slot on the machine attached to the bus farebox (do not insert the card into the cash slot), or in the farecard slot on top of 'L' station turnstiles, behind the Ventra reader. Be sure to visit the Ventra Customer Service center to get a new card to replace your old one as soon as possible.

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Q: I am retired from the military. Am I eligible for a Military Service Pass?
A: No. Only active duty military personnel and disabled veterans who have a qualifying service-connected disability (as outlined above) are eligible for the Military Service Pass. If you are 65 years of age or older, you may be eligible for the RTA Circuit Ride Free Program. Contact the RTA at 1-312-913-3110 or go to rtachicago.com for details.

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Q: How do I replace my lost, stolen or damaged MSP?
A: Visit the Ventra Customer Service Center or call 1-877-NOW-VENTRA (1-877-669-8368).

Ventra Customer Service Center
165 N. Jefferson St.
Hours and more information
 

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U-Pass

Q: Who is participating in the U-Pass program?
A: See the main U-Pass page for a full list of participating institutions.

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Q: Where can I go with my U-Pass?
A: Anywhere the CTA's buses and trains go! Your U-Pass is good for unlimited rides on CTA.

If you're new to Chicago, here is some information that might be helpful to you.

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Q: What if my U-Pass is lost or stolen?
A:
  • If your card is lost or stolen, visit your school’s U-Pass administrator to complete a report and request a new card. A non-refundable replacement fee ($50) will be collected for a lost/stolen card.
  • If U-Pass is put into the cash slot on a bus, it is treated as lost/stolen and you'll need to pay $50.00 for a replacement.

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Q: How often can I use my U-Pass per day?
A: As often as you want (you can't reuse your card at the same station or on the same bus line for 10-15 minutes). The U-Pass allows you unlimited rides on the CTA, anytime, anywhere, any reason.
 

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Q: Can I share my U-Pass with my friends?
A: U-Pass is limited to exclusive use by the full-time student whose name and photo appear on the card. Any U-Pass presented by a person other than the student whose name and photo appears on it will be confiscated and the person may be subject to arrest.

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Q: I drive--does the U-Pass have any benefits for me?
A: The U-Pass gives you an opportunity to get out of your car and:

  • save money - no parking, gas and car upkeep costs;
  • help save the environment - lower fuel emissions; and
  • reduce frustration - avoid traffic congestion.

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Q: Where can I call for directions?
A: The easiest way to get directions is to plan your trip online. Use the "Plan a Trip" widget on transitchicago.com. If you have smartphone, you can get step-by-step directions from a variety of apps that use transit data from CTA, or by using Google Maps.

If you'd like to get directions by phone, you can do so by calling the RTA Travel Center at (312) 836-7000 (TTY: 312-836-4949). Operators are available daily from 5:00 a.m. - 1:00 a.m. They can also send you a CTA System Map, Downtown Sightseeing Guide or schedules. CTA Maps and Downtown Sightseeing Guides are also available at CTA train stations.

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Q: Who can I contact if I have a question about my U-Pass?
A: Call Ventra Customer Service at 1-877-669-8368.

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Q: How can my school participate in the U-Pass program?
A: College/Universities offering U-Pass must be degree-granting, post-secondary institutions and certified by the Illinois Board of Higher Education. School must enter into a contract with the CTA.

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Q: What happens to leftover transit value on my U-Pass from between school sessions?
A: The value will stay on your account for the next time you need to pay for a regular fare—such as when riding Pace (which doesn’t accept U-Pass), when riding between school sessions or traveling with a friend, or when you ride during the following break.

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Q: Will I get a new Ventra U-Pass card with each new school term?
A: No—unlike the old U-Pass cards, you keep the same card throughout school. The card is good for up to five years from when it's issued.

Hold onto your card—if you throw a card away, you’ll need to pay a lost card replacement fee to get another one.
 

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History and Facts

Q: When did the CTA begin operation?
A: The CTA began operating on October 1, 1947, after it acquired the properties of the Chicago Rapid Transit Company and the Chicago Surface Lines. On October 1, 1952, CTA became the sole operator of Chicago transit when it purchased the Chicago Motor Coach system.

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Q: Where is CTA Headquarters located?
A: The CTA headquarters is located at: 567 W Lake St Chicago, IL 60661 (312) 664-7200

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Procurement

Q: What is a bid?
A: A bid is a vendor's response to a solicitation by the CTA requesting offers to provide a specific good or service.

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Q: Does a vendor need to be pre-qualified to bid?
A: No, unless otherwise specified in the bid documents.

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Q: How does a vendor become pre-qualified to bid, and how often does the vendor need to renew its pre-qualified status?
A: As stated above, a vendor does not necessarily need to be pre-qualified to bid.  A specific solicitation may require pre-qualification.  Regardless, vendors are encouraged to register online, which allows vendors to be added to CTA's database of vendors, which includes those commodities that the vendors are able to provide.

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Q: Can I apply to become a CTA Vendor On-line?
A: Yes, you can apply to become a CTA vendor on-line by accessing CTA’s on-line vendor/DBE registration system at www.ctavendor.com.

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Q: Does a vendor need to pay for bid specifications?
A: When required, you must provide CTA with cash, a cashier's check, certified check or money order, as specified in the solicitation document.

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Q: Can bids be faxed?
A: Bids must be returned to the CTA in accordance with the instructions to bidders in the bid document.

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Q: When are bids opened?
A: Bids are opened and read publicly at 11a.m. Central Time on the date indicated in the bid document.

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Q: What disqualifies a bid?
A: You should read the specification document very carefully and follow all instructions. This is the best way to keep from having your bid disqualified. In general, bids can also be disqualified for being late or missing information and/or signatures. Please note that this is not an exhaustive list of reasons for disqualification.

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Q: When will the contract be awarded?
A: Contracts are awarded either following consideration and approval by the Board or in accordance with the established process for contract approval and execution for contracts that do not require Board ratification.

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Q: Do I need to bid through a DBE?
A: No.

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Q: What is a Disadvantaged Business Enterprise (DBE)?
A: A DBE firm is a firm which is owned and controlled by socially and economically disadvantaged individuals pursuant to 49 CFR, Part 26. More information regarding CTA's DBE program can be obtained from the DBE Department.

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Q: Where do I find a DBE firm to use?
A: The Illinois Unified Certification Program publishes and maintains a Disadvantaged Business Enterprise Directory which lists all certified DBEs in the State of Illinois. A copy of this directory can be viewed on CTA's web page or you may contact the DBE Department for a copy of this directory.

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Q: Who are approved DBE's?
A: Please contact the DBE department for a copy of the aforementioned Disadvantaged Business Directory.

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Q: Can I apply and/or maintain my DBE Certification On-line?
A: Yes, you can apply for DBE certification, and maintain your certification if you are already certified, on-line by accessing our on-line vendor/DBE registration system at www.ctavendor.com.

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Q: I'm a certified DBE with the City of Chicago/the Illinois Department of Transportation/Metra/ Pace, am I also certified with CTA?
A: CTA is a certifying participant in the Illinois Unified Certification Program (IL UCP). All firms that are certified with the IL UCP through one of the aforementioned agencies are considered DBEs with CTA.

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Q: What is the Illinois Unified Certification Program (IL UCP)?
A: The IL UCP is based on the concept of reciprocity among the participants. The certifying participants of the IL UCP are CTA, the Illinois Department of Transportation, the City of Chicago, Metra and Pace.  If a firm is approved as a DBE firm, this certification is honored by all IL UCP participants in the State of Illinois.

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Q: How do I fill out Schedules C and D?
A: Please follow the directions in the bid document or contact the DBE department should you need additional assistance.

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Q: How do I get my product approved?
A: CTA’s Technical Services department typically reviews and approves new products.

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Q: Please explain the difference between purchases over and under $10,000.00?
A: Purchases in excess of $10,000.00 are required to be publicly advertised for bid.  Purchases that are $10,000.00 or less do not require public advertisement.

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Q: Is everything that CTA purchases posted on the website?
A: No.  All competitively bid procurements over $10,000.00 are posted on the CTA’s website.

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Slow Zone Elimination

Q: What goes into laying 'L' tracks?
A: Railroads typically have two rails on which trains run, and are held in place by being affixed to track "ties." Ties can be made of wood, plastic or concrete. Tie plates are affixed directly to the track ties at a precise distance, and the rails are, in turn, are affixed to the ties by the tie plates.

The 'L' (like many other rapid transit systems) also has a "third rail" off to the side of the running rails, which is how electrical power is delivered to the trains.

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Q: Why are there slow zones on the 'L'?
A: Slow zones are instituted in areas where train speeds should be restricted to maintain safe travel. Commonly, this occurs in a section of track that is beyond its service life and in need of repair or replacement. Slow zones are also sometimes established temporarily in work zones over a period of ongoing construction work.

We take your safety very seriously, and continually inspect our railways for signs of deterioration. If track inspectors (or high-tech track-measuring equipment used for inspection) detect advanced wear or potential defects, a temporary slow zone may be put in place (or other, appropriate action taken), pending repair work.

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Orange Line Extension Project

Q: Why does the Orange Line need to be extended?
A: The need for the project is based on the following considerations:

  • Access to the Orange Line is currently constrained by limited parking availability;
  • Access to the Orange Line by bus or auto is unreliable due to congestion approaching the existing terminal station; and
  • Few uncongested roadways are available to access the current Orange Line terminal because of wider than usual arterial street spacing, which limits mobility for residents and businesses.

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Q: How would CTA fund this proposed project?
A: Two types of funding are needed for the proposed extension – capital and operating. Capital funding (construction funding) for the proposed extension is provided partially by the Federal Transit Administration (FTA), through its “New Starts” grant program. This program provides funding for major public transit infrastructure projects throughout the United States through a highly competitive process. CTA is currently in the second phase of that process that will allow the agency to apply for funding. Upon successfully advancing through the FTA’s process, a project would be qualified to receive a Full Funding Grant Agreement (FFGA) from the Federal Government. The FFGA typically covers about half of a project’s capital cost. Other non-federal funds will comprise the remainder of capital funding. Once the proposed extension is built and operational, CTA’s operating budget would support day-to-day service and determine the frequency and hours of service for the proposed extension.

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Q: When would the extended Orange Line be open for use?
A: Project schedule is dependent on federal reviews and approvals and funding availability. For more information, see About the Project: Schedule.

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Q: When would construction begin on the proposed Orange Line extension?
A: Project schedule is dependent on federal reviews and approvals and funding availability. For more information, see About the Project: Schedule.

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Q: What will be the operating hours for the proposed extension?
A:  The operating hours for the proposed extension have not yet been determined.

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Q: Would CTA need to buy private property because of the location of the proposed extension?
A: At this stage in the planning process, CTA cannot determine how much private property, if any, would need to be acquired in order to construct and operate the selected alternative. The effect on private property will be determined in detail as a part of the preparation of the Environmental Impact Statement and the Preliminary Engineering phase of project development.

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Q: Will there be places to park near the new station?
A:  The preferred alternative would include a new parking structure at the proposed station.

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Q: How would this proposed extension affect the natural environment and the community?
A:
The current scoping period is a time for you to provide feedback to CTA about the potential effects to the environment that you feel should be studied further in the Draft Environmental Impact Statement (EIS). The Draft EIS will describe the potential environmental effects of the proposed Orange Line extension improvements and the steps that will be taken to mitigate them. Typically, environmental reviews for proposed transit projects address:
 
  • Transportation
  • Land use
  • Zoning and economic development
  • Secondary development
  • Land acquisition
  • Displacements and relocations
  • Cultural resources (including historical, archaeological and paleontological resources)
  • Parklands and recreational facilities
  • Neighborhood compatibility and environmental justice
  • Visual and aesthetic impacts
  • Natural resources (including air quality, noise and vibration, wetlands, water resources, geology/soils and hazardous materials)
  • Energy use
  • Safety and security
  • Wildlife
  • Ecosystems
 
Measures to avoid, minimize and mitigate adverse impacts will be identified and evaluated. For more information, see the Environmental Review page.

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Q: How would this proposed extension impact noise in the community?
A: The Draft Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) will evaluate the potential for noise impacts to the surrounding community. If it is determined that there could be noise impacts, then mitigation measures to reduce those impacts would be proposed in the Draft EIS. During the public review of the Draft EIS, you will have an opportunity to review and comment on the analysis and the proposed measures.

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Q: What is the economic impact of this proposed extension?
A: The Draft Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) will evaluate the fiscal and economic benefits and potential impacts of the proposed extension. During the public review of the Draft EIS, you will have an opportunity to review and comment on the economic analysis. Numerous transit studies suggest that transit investments result in economic development. A study conducted by the U.S. Department of Transportation found that for every $1 billion invested in transit projects, 47,500 jobs are created or sustained. Specific projections for the proposed extension would be developed in later studies.

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Q: Would this proposed extension help reduce traffic congestion?
A: The purpose of the Orange Line Extension project is to improve access to the existing Orange Line for southwest side and southwest suburban residents and businesses, support the area’s ongoing economic development efforts, and strengthen the competiveness of transit in the reverse commute market.

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Q: Why is the CTA extending transportation to the Ford City Mall when it could be closed in three years?
A: The purpose and need for transportation improvements in the study area extend beyond serving the Ford City Mall. CTA has met with representatives of the Ford City Mall and at this time, CTA is not aware of any plans to close the mall.

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Red Line Extension Project

Q: How would CTA fund this proposed project?
A: Two types of funding are needed for the proposed extension – capital and operating. Capital funding (construction funding) for the proposed extension is provided partially by the Federal Transit Administration (FTA), through its “New Starts” grant program. This program provides funding for major public transit infrastructure projects throughout the United States through a highly competitive process. CTA is currently in the second phase of that process that will allow the agency to apply for funding. Upon successfully advancing through the FTA’s process, a project would be qualified to receive a Full Funding Grant Agreement (FFGA) from the Federal Government. The FFGA typically covers about half of a project’s capital cost. Other non-federal funds will comprise the remainder of capital funding. Once the proposed extension is built and operational, CTA’s operating budget would support day-to-day service and determine the frequency and hours of service for the proposed extension.

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Q: When would the extended Red Line be open for use?
A: No timeline has yet been established. Project schedule is dependent on federal reviews and approvals and funding availability.

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Q: When would construction begin on the proposed Red Line extension?
A: No timeline has yet been established. Project schedule is dependent on federal reviews and approvals and funding availability.

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Q: What will be the operating hours for the proposed extension?
A:  The operating hours for the proposed extension have not yet been determined.

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Q: Would CTA need to buy private property because of the location of the proposed extension?
A: At this stage in the planning process, CTA cannot determine how much private property, if any, would need to be acquired in order to construct and operate the selected alternative. The effect on private property will be determined in detail as a part of the preparation of the Environmental Impact Statement and the Preliminary Engineering phase of project development.

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Q: Will there be places to park near the new stations?
A: The preferred alternative includes adding new Park & Ride lots at each of the four proposed stations.

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Q: How would this proposed extension affect the natural environment and the community?
A:
Potential effects to the environment will be studied in the Draft Environmental Impact Statement (EIS). The Draft EIS will:
 
  • Identify and evaluate measures to avoid, minimize and mitigate adverse impacts
  • Describe the potential environmental effects of the proposed Red Line extension improvements and the steps that will be taken to alleviate them.
 
Typically, environmental reviews for proposed transit projects address:
 
  • Transportation
  • Land use
  • Zoning and economic development
  • Secondary development
  • Land acquisition
  • Displacements and relocations
  • Cultural resources (including historical, archaeological and paleontological resources)
  • Parklands and recreational facilities
  • Neighborhood compatibility and environmental justice
  • Visual and aesthetic impacts
  • Natural resources (including air quality, noise and vibration, wetlands, water resources, geology/soils and hazardous materials)
  • Energy use
  • Safety and security
  • Wildlife
  • Ecosystems

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Q: How would this proposed extension impact noise in the community?
A: The Draft Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) will evaluate the potential for noise impacts to the surrounding community. If it is determined that there could be noise impacts, then mitigation measures to reduce those impacts would be proposed in the Draft EIS. During the public review of the Draft EIS, you will have an opportunity to review and comment on the analysis and the proposed measures.

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Q: What is the economic impact of this proposed extension?
A: The Draft Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) will evaluate the fiscal and economic benefits and potential impacts of the proposed extension. During the public review of the Draft EIS, you will have an opportunity to review and comment on the economic analysis. Numerous transit studies suggest that transit investments result in economic development. A study conducted by the U.S. Department of Transportation found that for every $1 billion invested in transit projects, 47,500 jobs are created or sustained. Specific projections for the proposed extension would be developed in later studies.

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Q: How would the proposed Red Line extension effect current CTA services, both during construction of the new service and during operation of the new service?
A: The specifics of construction for the proposed Red Line extension have not been established yet. CTA’s general guideline is to minimize the effects of construction on existing transit services. However, bus reroutes are possible. Once the proposed extension is complete, existing bus routes may be changed to complement the new high-capacity transit service. Depending on the specific route of the service, the number of routes feeding into the 95th Street Station may be reduced, which would reduce congestion in and around this facility.

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Q: Is it possible that at some point this proposed Red Line extension could go even farther to the Gary Airport and South Bend, Ind.?
A: At this point CTA’s proposal for the Red Line extension is limited to the project's defined study area. Any initiative to further expand service to the Gary Airport and South Bend, Ind., would merit further investigation and its own planning study.

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Q: If the CTA already has a Locally Preferred Alternative, why is the Draft Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) still studying three other alternatives?
A: The federal National Environmental Policy Act process requires that we evaluate a range of alternatives in the EIS along with the Locally Preferred Alternative and a No Build Alternative, which looks at the existing transportation system, plus any committed transportation improvements that already are in the Chicago Metropolitan Agency for Planning Fiscal Year 2007 to 2012 Transportation Improvement Program. Other alternatives that would be evaluated in the Draft EIS would include a Transportation Systems Management Alternative (which would include a Bus Rapid Transit system on Michigan Avenue) and an elevated transit line along Halsted Street (which would not impact any parklands). Federal law protects parklands from use by transportation projects unless there are no feasible or prudent alternatives that avoid the use of parklands. Project planning must include all possible planning to minimize harm to parklands and therefore, the Halsted Alternative will be evaluated in further detail through the EIS process.

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Q: For the Locally Preferred Alternative near the Union Pacific Railroad tracks, has CTA talked with Union Pacific representatives?
A: CTA has had preliminary conversations with Union Pacific Railroad and will continue to coordinate with the railroad as plans proceed.

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Q: Can you do Preliminary Engineering at the same time you are drafting the Environmental Impact Statement?
A: Preliminary Engineering can occur either concurrently with the Environmental Impact Statement development process or it can follow it. The timing for Preliminary Engineering is subject to funding availability and federal approvals.

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Q: How does work on the other Your Red projects affect progress on the Red Line Extension?
A: Red Line Extension project is one part of the Your Red Program to extend and enhance the entire Red Line. The Your Red program consists of separate projects with their own separate sources of potential funding and timelines. These projects are mutually beneficial and are combined into the Your Red Program to ensure that they are coordinated efficiently.

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Q: What portion of the extension would be elevated?
A: The Locally Preferred Alternative would operate on an elevated structure from approximately 99th Street up to 119th Street, where it would transition to an at-grade profile and then continue at grade before terminating in the vicinity of 130th Street.

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Q: Can this extension connect to existing Metra Electric or South Shore services?
A: There is potential for connection of the proposed Red Line extension to the Northern Indiana Commuter Transportation District (NICTD) South Shore Commuter Rail Line in the vicinity of 130th Street, where the two lines would be adjacent to each other. This potential connection will be explored in further detail during Preliminary Engineering. A connection between the Red Line Extension and Metra Electric District at Kensington/115th Street station is not possible, as the proposed Red Line Extension routing crosses the Metra Electric District Line approximately one-half mile to the south of the Kensington/ 115th Street station.

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Q: Is CTA coordinating with Metra on the Red Line Extension?
A: CTA is coordinating with Metra on our progress with the Red Line Extension project. Metra is a participating agency in the environmental review process for the Red Line Extension.

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Yellow Line Extension Project

Q: How would CTA fund this proposed project?
A: Two types of funding are needed for the proposed extension – capital and operating. Capital funding (construction funding) for the proposed extension is provided partially by the Federal Transit Administration (FTA), through its “New Starts” grant program. This program provides funding for major public transit infrastructure projects throughout the United States through a highly competitive process. CTA is currently in the second phase of that process that will allow the agency to apply for funding. Upon successfully advancing through the FTA’s process, a project would be qualified to receive a Full Funding Grant Agreement (FFGA) from the Federal Government. The FFGA typically covers about half of a project’s capital cost. Other non-federal funds will comprise the remainder of capital funding. Once the proposed extension is built and operational, CTA’s operating budget would support day-to-day service and determine the frequency and hours of service for the proposed extension.

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Q: When would construction begin on the proposed Yellow Line extension?
A: Project schedule is dependent on federal reviews and approvals and funding availability. For more information, see About the Project: Schedule.

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Q: When would the extended Yellow Line be open for use?
A: Project schedule is dependent on federal reviews and approvals and funding availability. For more information, see About the Project: Schedule.

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Q: What will be the operating hours for the proposed extension?
A:  The operating hours for the proposed extension have not yet been determined.

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Q: Will there be places to park near the new station?
A:  The preferred alternative would include a new parking structure at the proposed station.

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Q: How would this proposed extension affect the natural environment and the community?
A:
The current scoping period is a time for you to provide feedback to CTA about the potential effects to the environment that you feel should be studied further in the Draft Environmental Impact Statement (EIS). The Draft EIS will describe the potential environmental effects of the proposed Yellow Line extension improvements and the steps that will be taken to mitigate them. Typically, environmental reviews for proposed transit projects address:
 
  • Transportation
  • Land use
  • Zoning and economic development
  • Secondary development
  • Land acquisition
  • Displacements and relocations
  • Cultural resources (including historical, archaeological and paleontological resources)
  • Parklands and recreational facilities
  • Neighborhood compatibility and environmental justice
  • Visual and aesthetic impacts
  • Natural resources (including air quality, noise and vibration, wetlands, water resources, geology/soils and hazardous materials)
  • Energy use
  • Safety and security
  • Wildlife
  • Ecosystems
 
Measures to avoid, minimize and mitigate adverse impacts will be identified and evaluated. For more information, see the Environmental Review page.

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Q: How would this proposed extension impact noise in the community?
A: The Draft Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) will evaluate the potential for noise impacts to the surrounding community. If it is determined that there could be noise impacts, then mitigation measures to reduce those impacts would be proposed in the Draft EIS. During the public review of the Draft EIS, you will have an opportunity to review and comment on the analysis and the proposed measures.

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Q: What is the economic impact of this proposed extension?
A: The Draft Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) will evaluate the fiscal and economic benefits and potential impacts of the proposed extension. During the public review of the Draft EIS, you will have an opportunity to review and comment on the economic analysis. Numerous transit studies suggest that transit investments result in economic development. A study conducted by the U.S. Department of Transportation found that for every $1 billion invested in transit projects, 47,500 jobs are created or sustained. Specific projections for the proposed extension would be developed in later studies.

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Q: Would this proposed extension help reduce traffic congestion?
A:  The purpose of the Yellow Line extension project is to improve transit accessibility and provide mobility options by better utilizing existing transportation infrastructure capacity.

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Q: Where can I find additional information about a station on the Yellow Line at Oakton Street?
A: The Village of Skokie is funding the design and construction of a new station on the Yellow Line at Oakton Street. This project will not be evaluated as part of the environmental review for the Yellow Line extension. Additional information on the Oakton station can be found on the Village of Skokie website.

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Open Fare System

Q: What's an Open Fare system?
A: An Open Fare system is a non-proprietary software and hardware system that will allow customers to use their personal bank-issued credit and debit cards, NFC (Near Field Communication) enabled mobile phones and contactless general purpose reloadable cards for fare payment.

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Q: What is a contactless card?
A: Contactless cards store data on a microchip embedded in the card’s plastic, (as compared to a traditional credit card that uses a magnetic stripe that must be physically swiped through a card reader.)

A contactless card transmits data via a secure frequency to a card reader when the cardholder “taps” their card near a card reader. They are currently used in lots of retail settings (checkouts at many of the stores you probably shop at), and major banks are switching from traditional cards to contactless cards due to increased security, less card damage and quicker payment times.

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Q: Will I have to get new contactless cards, or does my current credit/debit cards already contain chips that allow for that?
A: That depends on the customer’s commercial bank. Customers will need cards with an embedded smart chip. Many cards issued by commercial banks already have chips, and they are becoming more widespread in the marketplace. Customers are welcome to inquire with their commercial bank to either request and/or ask when the functionality will be available.

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Q: What will I need to do to get my credit card to work?
A: It must have a contactless chip within it to work at a card reader. Your current bank card may already be equipped with this technology and will be ready to use on this system.

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Q: When will Chicago Cards, Chicago Card Plus cards and magnetic stripe transit cards disappear?
A: For those who still need to make the switch to Ventra, here are key dates you need to know:

May 1, 2014—You can no longer buy magnetic stripe cards or autoload/reload Chicago Card/Chicago Card Plus.

June 1, 2014—You can no longer reload magnetic stripe cards or use Chicago Card/Chicago Card Plus.

July 1, 2014—You can no longer use magnetic stripe cards. Pace customers paying with cash will no longer be issued a Transfer Card. All customers will be transitioned to Ventra.

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Q: I don’t have a credit or debit card. What are my options?
A: Several options will be available:

  1. New reloadable cards that function like standard Visa or MasterCard credit card, but users will not have a credit account. The cards can be used for any retail purchase, including CTA. There will be no fees for use on CTA, but standard market-based fees will be charged for non-transit uses.
  2. “Transit-only reloadable” card that functions like existing Chicago Card/Chicago Card Plus
    • Cash can be loaded onto them
    • Will be used for all special programs (e.g. Seniors)
  3. Single-ride card
  4. Cash, on buses

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Q: Where will I be able to buy these new "general purpose, reloadable" cards?
A: General purpose, reloadable cards will be available at vending machines in CTA train stations and at over 1,000 retail locations across Chicago. By 2014, participating retail locations will grow to 2,500, and will be within a few blocks of nearly every CTA bus stop. The cards will be also available online or through a dedicated Call Center.

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Q: Will the general purpose reloadable cards contain a set amount of value? Will different denominations be available for purchase?
A: Just as today, the customer will determine the value they decide to put on the card, as well as the CTA transit pass/product they would like to purchase.

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Q: Will the general purpose reloadable cards have the capability of being recharged? If not, how do you avoid having a small balance (not enough to pay for a fare) left on each card?
A: Yes, all general purpose, reloadable cards will be rechargeable and are fee-free when used for purchasing transit products.

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Q: How will reduced fares work with the credit/debit and general purpose reloadable cards? Will the cards require the continued use of a RTA reduced-fare permit?
A: RTA issued fare media will be contactless moving forward. Reduced fares will require registration of the card to ensure proper use and inclusion in the program.

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Q: I have a senior/reduced fare card. What will I need to do?
A: At the discretion of the RTA, a new card could be issued during the transition so that eligible seniors are properly equipped to use the CTA’s system. More information will become available as the transition approaches in 2013.

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Q: How will the new system work with Pace?
A: The transition to the new fare system for Pace will match the timeframe for the CTA. On the new system, CTA and Pace customers can board with contactless credit, debit and bank cards. Cash fares will still be accepted on CTA buses and Pace. Para-transit service will not be a part of the new system.

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Q: Will there be any limits on what type of credit or debit cards can be used to pay fares on CTA?
A: No, all major card brands are accepted (Visa, MasterCard, Discover and American Express). In order for your bank-issued card to be directly used with our new system, it must be contactless. If you don't have a contactless card, you'll be able to use your credit card at vending machines to buy and add value to the contactless cards issued by CTA.

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Q: Will there be a feature like Chicago Card Plus, with a set amount that is automatically reloaded whenever the value goes below a certain threshold?
A: Yes. The new contactless cards will have account management functionality that allows you to link it to your bank account or major credit card and have it automatically reloaded.

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Q: Will credit/debit card owners be protected from responsibility for fraudulent use if they lose their cards?
A: Customers will have the same fraud protection already offered by their credit card provider.

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