2012 CTA Year in Review

December 28, 2012
Agency to hit the ground running in 2013 with exciting construction and technology improvement projects that will enhance our customers’ experience

The Chicago Transit Authority is wrapping up 2012 with many successes in the agency’s ongoing efforts to create a world-class transit system and modernize and invest for the future, as ridership continues to grow at historic levels. As 2013 begins, the CTA will continue an aggressive plan of investment and modernization of Chicago’s largest mass transit system, recognizing the critical role transit plays for the region and the need for affordable, safe and reliable transportation. It will be an exciting year of much positive change.



CTA Train Tracker: CTA launched new features related to its popular Train Tracker service to allowing customers the ability to text message to get train arrival times and the ability to designate "favorite" stations for train information. The new features further enhance one of the CTA's most popular and successful customer tools. Launched in 2011, CTA Train Tracker provides estimated train arrival information at stations along each of the CTA's eight rail lines.



CTA Targets Waste: CTA President Forrest Claypool unveiled a host of improvements to agency’s system for managing parts and materials—each designed to reduce costs, increase oversight and improve operations, saving the agency millions of dollars each year. CTA has begun more stringent reviews of large or non-routine orders, and taken steps to implement an electronic bar-coding system to better track items.



Advertising guidelines: CTA updated its advertising guidelines to lift the ban on advertising alcoholic beverages on rail cars and at certain rail stations, while maintaining prohibitions on buses.



Parkmobile: Introduction of the Parkmobile app – to allow customers to pay using their mobile phones at any of CTA’s Park & Ride facilities.

Oakton Station: CTA and Village of Skokie officials announced the opening of the new $40M Oakton Station – now the second stop on the Yellow Line between Howard and Skokie terminal. Adjacent to the Illinois Science + Technology Park—a nearly 24-acre research campus with 20 pharmaceutical, healthcare, bio- and nano-technology firms that employs approximately 1,400 people—the new station expands the existing network of CTA service and provides the potential to attract new ridership.

Loop Track Renewal: the $33.8M project involves special track work at the Loop junctions and the replacement of nearly 11,500 feet of elevated rail and track components that were installed in the mid-1980s, which are nearing the end of their useful life. Work began in late-April and will continue through early 2013.

New concessions for customers: CTA announced the first-ever Starbucks at a CTA rail station opening at the Red Line North/Clybourn stop, one of a number of new concessions at CTA stations during 2012. Other new concessions included Lunderman Produce at the Ashland/63rd station on the Green Line, the only produce business currently on the CTA system; Interurban Café and Pastry at the Grand Avenue Red Line station; Glazed and Infused, a gourmet doughnut shop at the Armitage Brown Line stop; and DAT Donuts, an African-American-owned business, at 95th Street Red Line.




Morgan Station: Mayor Emanuel and President Claypool announced the opening of the new $38M Morgan ‘L’ station, marking the first new CTA station to open in Chicago in 15 years. Serving the Green and Pink Lines, the Morgan station sits in the burgeoning Near West/West Loop neighborhoods, which have seen substantial residential and commercial development over the past several years—complementing the area’s long-established light-industrial and food-supply and processing businesses.

Bus Modernization: Board approval for the purchase of up to 100 new articulated (60-foot) buses by piggybacking on a contract belonging to King County Metro, Seattle’s public transit agency.  Delivery of the 100 New Flyer articulated buses – a combination of 33 hybrid diesel-electric and 67 clean-diesel buses – has begun and will continue through 2013.  This purchase is part of CTA’s larger effort to modernize its bus fleet and replace older model buses at the end of their useful life.



Red North 7: In June, CTA introduced the Red North Station Interim Improvements Project—an $86 million initiative to repair and improve seven stations along the northern Red Line, some of which are more than a century old. Shortly after work commenced on the design/build project, CTA saw an opportunity to reduce future costs by extending the scope of work to include up to $15 million in much-needed track and viaduct repairs. Adding this work saves money by using resources already in place; helps avoid future service disruptions by piggybacking on scheduled track closures and reroutes; and will result in a 2-3 minute reduction in travel times with the elimination of 7,000 feet of slow zones.

Red Line South: Chicago Transit Board Chairman Terry Peterson and CTA President Forrest Claypool announced one of the biggest construction projects in CTA history: the complete 10-mile reconstruction of the South Red Line from Cermak-Chinatown to 95th Street. The project will begin in May 2013, closing the South Red Line for five months, affecting nine stations.  To ease the impact on riders, CTA will offer free shuttle busses, expanded bus service and some discounts and free rail entry at the Garfield Green Line station for bus shuttle passengers. Red Line service will run on the Green Line tracks during this period.

LEED/Green Initiative: The U.S. Green Building Council awarded the CTA’s headquarters at 567 W. Lake with a LEED platinum certification. Already one of the “greenest” buildings in the city, this certification set CTA headquarters apart because it is one of only a handful of buildings in Chicago to achieve such an elite status.



Bus Modernization: Mayor Emanuel and CTA President Claypool  announced a comprehensive $205 million plan to rehabilitate and modernize the agency’s bus and rail maintenance facilities, which will benefit commuters and the local economy with the creation of more than new 500 jobs.

5000 Series: CTA began adding its newest rail cars, the 5000 series, to the Green Line, the second line to receive the modern, comfortable and smooth-riding cars.

Red Line South: CTA kicked off the first of three job fairs for the 400 part-time bus operator jobs that are being created as part of the 2013 Red Line South Track Renewal Project. The heavily attended job fairs were also held in August and September. The first batch of operators hired graduated in October 2012.



Buying Plan: The Chicago Transit Authority (CTA) published its first-ever buying plan, designed to preview purchases of services, equipment and commodities the agency anticipates in the next 18 months. The Plan is intended to assist potential vendors considering doing business with the CTA, by making the business community aware of upcoming contracting opportunities and is available at transitchicago.com and at CTA headquarters, 567 W. Lake St.

Corporate Sponsorship: CTA announced a three-year agreement with MillerCoors that allow the company naming rights for transit rides offered on New Year’s Eve, also known as the “Penny” Rides program, which provides rides to about 150,000 passengers each New Year’s Eve.



95th Street Terminal: CTA began the process of acquiring property near its 95th/Dan Ryan Terminal on Chicago’s South Side as part of the $240 million 95th Street Terminal Improvement Project.

Corporate Sponsorship: CTA offered Chicago Public Schools students free rides on CTA buses and trains the first day of school on September 4, the first day of the new school year for most CPS students, as part of a new, three-year sponsorship agreement with the Chicago Sun-Times for the CTA’s First Day of School Free Rides program. Sun-Times Media is contributing more than $150,000 to the program, designed to promote first-day attendance for CPS elementary and high school students.

Red Line South: CTA awarded a $220 million contract to Kiewit Infrastructure Company of Chicago for the Red Line South reconstruction. Kiewit was the lowest qualified bidder for the track work component of the project. The project, which begins in spring 2013, will completely rebuild the 43-year-old Red Line South—including all track, ties, ballast and drainage systems—from Cermak/Chinatown to 95th Street.  The contract exceeded the CTA’s Disadvantage Business Enterprise (DBE) participation goal, with nearly 30 percent of the work going to DBE firms.

Open Fare: The Chicago Transit Authority (CTA) and Pace unveiled Ventra™, a new fare payment system that will provide CTA and Pace customers with a new and more convenient way to pay for train and bus rides beginning in 2013. Installation of Ventra vending machines, new turnstile equipment and card readers began in the fall to prepare for the transition.



Wilson Transfer Station: The CTA hosted an open house meeting to display renderings of the proposed reconstruction of the Wilson Red Line station to gather public input on project details. The $203 million Wilson Reconstruction project will be the second-largest CTA station reconstruction project currently planned – second to the 95th Street Red Line Terminal – and will result in a completely rebuilt, modern and accessible transfer station between Red and Purple lines. Demolition work is expected to begin in the second quarter of 2013 with construction continuing through 2015.

Security: CTA unveiled its new, modern video surveillance room and outlined additional steps it is taking to strengthen security efforts for CTA customers.  The agency announced that violent crimes have decreased following previous measures taken by the CTA through its expanded camera network on trains and buses.

Western/Ashland Bus Rapid Transit

CTA, CDOT and DHED hosted three open house meetings to exchange information and receive community feedback on a number of possible Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) options for the study area. This planning study includes analyzing the positive and negative impacts of the BRT options, which include bus-only lanes, traffic signal upgrades, fewer stops and improved customer amenities. The study area extends approximately 21 miles along Western and Ashland Avenues, from Howard Street on the north to 95th Street on the south. A preferred alternative or option is expected to be announced in the winter of 2013.



Jeffery Jump: CTA, CDOT and DHED launched its highly anticipated J14 Jeffery Jump bus service, which is a first-of-its-kind service for Chicago with unique features, including dedicated bus-only traffic lanes during morning and evening rush hour periods, expanded bus shelters with informational kiosks, and prioritized traffic signals that allow buses to move more efficiently through traffic. Jeffery Jump is testing may elements of bus rapid transit, which CTA plans to expand in coming years.

5000 Series: CTA began adding 5000 series rail cars to the Red Line, the third line to receive the cars.

Bus Modernization: CTA approved a contract to rebuild 60 percent of its bus fleet, the agency’s largest bus overhaul project, beginning in the spring of 2013. The $185 million project is akin to a “gut rehab,” creating almost-new buses while generating the equivalent of more than 200 good-paying jobs.

Budget/Labor: Mayor Emanuel and CTA announced historic tentative labor agreements with many of its unions, including the union representing its more than 7,000 bus and rail operators; its ironworkers; and multiple trades unions that provide the agency more flexibility and ultimately reduce labor costs for CTA by about $60 million a year.



Crowding Reduction: The CTA began offering additional service on 48 bus routes and six rail lines during weekdays, as part of a comprehensive plan to reduce uncomfortable crowding on the system’s busiest routes and help meet growing ridership demand. The plan is the equivalent of $16 million in added service to bus and rail routes that are used by more than 76 percent of CTA’s customers – and comes at no additional cost to taxpayers and riders.

Budget: The Chicago Transit Board approved a 2013 fiscally sound budget that reflects increased management efficiencies, labor cost savings and the changes to fares, the first in four years.  The 2013 budget maintains current service levels, freezes base fares, and calls for modest reductions in discounts for CTA passes to bring them in line with other major U.S. cities. The balanced budget for a second year in a row required no transfer from capital funds.

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