Chicago Transit Board Authorizes Regional Service Extension and Improvement Plans

November 9, 2005
11/9/05

Action Supports RTA's Strategic Planning Initiative

The Chicago Transit Board approved changes to the proposed five-year capital plan in order to begin alternatives analysis studies for extending the Red Line to 130th Street, extending the Orange Line to Ford City and extending the Yellow Line to Old Orchard. The alternatives analysis study is the first planning step in the Federal Transit Administration's New Start process for the purpose of pursuing federal funding. The studies will examine all of the transit options available and a locally preferred alternative will be determined.

In addition, the Board approved four new sub-regional service improvement studies to focus on the far South Side and South Suburbs, Southwest Side and Southwest Suburbs, Northwest Side and Northwest Suburbs, and Central service area. The studies are similar to those CTA recently conducted which focused on West Side service and the analysis and realignment of service along the North and South Lake Shore Drive service areas that resulted in ridership along those bus routes increasing by 3.7 percent on weekdays and 10.5 percent on weekends. The studies will serve as comprehensive, scientific studies that include reviews of major traffic generators, other transit connections, and demographic and development patterns.

In July, funding for five CTA New Starts projects was authorized as part of the reauthorization of the federal transportation bill, known as SAFETEA-LU (Safe, Accountable, Flexible, Efficient Transportation Equity Act ? A Legacy for Users). Alternatives analysis studies are already underway for two other CTA projects ? the Circle Line and Ogden Corridor project ? included in the bill.

"In keeping with the RTA's directive to develop strategic plans for future transit needs, and the state's pledge to leave no federal funding on the table, the CTA intends to move ahead to further develop plans to extend our system and provide additional transit options for the region," said Chicago Transit Board Chairman Carole Brown. "These transit projects will help CTA continue to meet the dynamic needs of a growing and interdependent region."

?Many people are thinking big about the future of public transit and the focus is to increase transit ridership dramatically. To achieve this it is necessary to extend existing CTA lines as well as enhance connections that allow customers to reach locations faster and more directly," said CTA President Frank Kruesi. 'supported by Illinois? Congressional delegation, the new transportation bill provides major capital support to advance CTA towards a state of good repair and for new transit infrastructure."

Extending the Red Line from its existing south terminal at 95th Street to a new terminal at 130th would streamline bus-to-rail connections for 13 CTA bus routes and six Pace routes and would also connect with the South Shore commuter rail line.

Extending the Orange Line to Ford City would complete the original Orange Line plan to provide improved access to downtown from the far southwest side and from the central city to the strong employment corridor along South Cicero Avenue.

Extending the Yellow Line would provide service to major destinations such as Old Orchard Mall, Cook County Courthouse, and adjacent office and retail developments currently just beyond the reach of the existing terminal. Expanding service would strengthen the reverse-commute flow along both the Yellow and Red Lines, and make better use of CTA's existing service capacity.

The alternatives analysis studies are designed to identify the preferred form of transit for the areas, routes, station locations, preliminary ridership estimates, constructability reviews and risk assessments, operating and capital cost estimates, and implementation schedules.

The Board voted to set aside $6 million in capital funds.

SAFETEA-LU will provide a total of $286.4 billion nationwide through 2009. Of that amount, $52.6 billion is earmarked for capital transit projects. For the period 2004 ? 2009, Illinois is authorized to receive $2.6 billion in transit formula funds and CTA will receive approximately $1.3 billion of that amount.

In order to secure the federal funding available under SAFETEA-LU, CTA must secure at least 20 percent in matching funds from non-federal sources. Securing CTA's formula funds for 2006 through 2009 ? not including New Start grants ? will require more than $200 million in matching funds. From 2000 through 2004, the region's matching funds came from Illinois FIRST legislation which expired on June 30, 2004, leaving transit agencies in Illinois without a source of non-federal matching funds. CTA is working with the Regional Transportation Authority(RTA) and the Illinois Legislature to enact a replacement of Illinois FIRST and ensure that all federal transit funds available to the Chicagoland region will be appropriated.

Major CTA capital improvements such as the recently completed rebuild of the 54th/Cermak branch of the Blue Line, the purchase of new buses, current work on the rehabilitation of the Dan Ryan branch of Red Line and expanding capacity on the Brown Line, would not have been possible without the matching funds provided by the state's Illinois FIRST program.

The FTA New Starts program requires conceptual transit project proposals to proceed through a formal process of planning, design and construction. The FTA process consists of five formal steps: Alternatives Analysis, Environmental Impact Statement, Preliminary Engineering, Final Design and Construction.

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