CTA Amends Capital Budget

April 15, 2011
Federal Dollars Fund Green Technology and Project to Study Western Corridor
The Chicago Transit Board today approved an ordinance amending the CTA’s 2011-2015 Capital Improvement Program (CIP) to include a $2.2 million Federal Transit Administration (FTA) grant for the purchase of two electric buses and a $1.6 million grant for an Alternative Analysis of transit along Western Avenue.  The ordinance increases the capital budget from $649.7 million to $653.5 million.
“These grants are a welcome addition to CTA’s capital budget as they allow the agency to explore different methods of providing bus service while not taking away from the funds needed for investment in the infrastructure,” said Chicago Transit Board Chairman Terry Peterson. “CTA needs to look to the future and stay abreast of advancing technologies to ensure it is providing the most efficient and cost-effective service possible. Electric vehicles can help reduce fuel costs and have environmental benefits, and finding ways to improve travel time is important to overall service operation and customer satisfaction.”
CTA will test the 35-40 foot electric buses for approximately one year.  Typically, electric buses can travel 30 to 40 miles on a single battery charge.  Travel distance is one of the main items CTA will monitor closely to determine whether the electric buses can eventually be used along an entire bus route.  Weather conditions and weight load will also be monitored to determine how those variables affect travel distance.  Much like electric cars, lithium-ion batteries will power the electric buses.
“This grant is an excellent opportunity to test how electric buses can perform,” said CTA President Richard L. Rodriguez.  “The CTA is always looking at new, green technologies and how to incorporate them into our operations,” Rodriguez said.
The grant also includes the purchase of charging stations.  The agency is in the process of developing specifications for requests for proposals to go out for bid later this year.
CTA also received funding for an Alternative Analysis (AA) of the Western Corridor.  The study corridor includes Howard Street on the north, Western Avenue on the west, Ashland Avenue on the east, and 95th Street on the south.
The Alternative Analysis will examine the feasibility of Bus Rapid Transit service in the corridor as a means to provide faster service, improved connection points and enhanced transit services at affordable prices. The study area includes connections to CTA’s rail lines, Metra rail lines and Pace suburban bus routes. Among areas CTA will analyze are parking, current street signals, traffic patterns and the potential for a dedicated bus lane.  
“The study area is highly populated with residents who depend upon public transportation in their daily lives,” added Rodriguez. “With better travel and transfer points between Metra, Pace and CTA, this project is a good way to examine the most efficient method to make connections between different modes of travel between multiple agencies for customers who are traveling outside of the central business district.”
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