The CTA is continuing to upgrade the air-conditioning of its bus and rail fleets to improve customer comfort as summer temperatures remain high. This summer, 78 percent of the CTA's 1,908 buses are air-conditioned, compared to 49 percent last summer. All 1,190 of CTA's 'L' cars are also air-conditioned.
CTA President Frank Kruesi said, "The purchase of new air-conditioned buses and adding air-conditioning to other buses has moved the CTA closer to its goal of having a fully air-conditioned fleet by the end of 2003. The CTA already has more air-conditioned buses and trains than it has ever had before, but we know our customers want passenger comforts on every vehicle they ride."
Kruesi added that whenever the City of Chicago declares a heat emergency, the CTA will permit customers to bring water or soft drinks aboard non-air conditioned buses.
Recent deliveries have brought to 225 the number of new air-conditioned low-floor Nova buses in service since the end of last year, and all 469 of the buses in this order are expected to be in service by next summer. The total contract value of the Nova bus purchase is $120,414,705.
With the delivery of the last Nova buses, the CTA expects to retire most of the remaining standard-sized buses in its fleet that are neither air-conditioned nor accessible to customers with disabilities.
In upgrading its fleet, the CTA has also returned to service 371 older (TMC) buses that have been retrofitted with new air-conditioning systems. Retrofits will be completed on all 474 of the 10-year-old buses in this group by early fall. When these buses were purchased by the CTA in 1991, prior management chose not to include air-conditioning in the contract. The retrofit will cost $8,663,607.
The first CTA buses with both air-conditioning and accessibility for customers with disabilities were purchased in 1991. All new buses purchased since then have included both features.
Earlier this year the CTA ordered new air-conditioned, articulated, low-floor buses from North American Bus Industries (NABI), of Anniston, Alabama. The first 79 of up to 200 of these buses are scheduled for delivery by the spring of 2003. An option in the NABI contract would allow 75 more buses to be delivered by the end of 2003. Once these buses enter service, all older articulated buses that are not air-conditioned would be retired.
CTA Chairman Valerie B. Jarrett said, "These new articulated buses will provide a welcome final chapter in our long effort to make the CTA fleet comfortable and accessible. Besides being air-conditioned, they will have low floors making them easily accessible to customers with disabilities and those who have difficulty climbing steps, and they will be large enough to carry a high volume of customers in comfort over our longest routes."
All 1,190 'L' cars in the CTA rail fleet are air-conditioned, and 70 of the oldest (2200 series Budd) cars have been upgraded recently with improved air-conditioning systems. The remaining 72 cars in this 31-year-old group will receive air-conditioning upgrades throughout the summer.
Air-conditioning improvements are also being provided as part of the rehabilitation of 598 other (2600 series Budd) 'L' cars that have been in service for up to 20 years. Work has been completed on 394 of the cars, or about 66 percent of the total.
President Kruesi added, ?The upgrades to our fleet would not have been possible without Illinois FIRST and the support we have gotten from Mayor Daley, Governor Ryan, Speaker Hastert and other elected officials. Thanks to their efforts, the CTA had the funds to make this investment in our fleet."
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