CTA Chairman Valerie B. Jarrett and President Frank Kruesi joined Illinois State Representatives Harry Osterman (D-17th) and Larry McKeon (D-35th), and Aldermen Vi Daley (43rd) and Richard Mell (33rd) at the Merchandise Mart 'L' station Friday to kick off extended weekend service to the Loop on the Brown Line, effective Sunday, July 16. It will be the first time Brown Line trains have operated to the Loop on Sundays and holidays since 1952. At the same time, service on Saturday nights will be extended by almost four hours.
Brown Line trains will now operate downtown until 11:50 p.m. nightly, permitting more convenient connections with other 'L' lines and with Metra stations west of the Loop, and providing longer service to six 'L' stations south of Belmont.
"The Brown Line has been our fastest-growing 'L' service," said CTA Chairman Valerie B. Jarrett. "We?ve seen a 31 percent increase in ridership just in the past five years, and there's so much activity in the communities south of Belmont that running service longer on weekends will most certainly attract many more customers."
While Brown Line trains have been serving the Loop on weeknights until 11:50 p.m., they operate downtown only until 8 p.m. on Saturdays, and don?t go there at all on Sundays. On Sundays and holidays, Brown Line trains run as a shuttle between Kimball and Belmont, where customers change to Red Line trains for destinations farther south.
Aside from Fullerton, which is shared with Red Line trains, Brown Line stations at Wellington, Diversey, Armitage, Sedgwick, Chicago and the Merchandise Mart are closed when Brown Line trains are not operating. Extending the hours of Brown Line service will increase travel options for Lake View, Old Town, River North and other communities with entertainment districts, and also for customers making off-hour trips to Illinois Masonic Hospital, De Paul University, Moody Bible Institute and the Loop.
"This is another example of CTA's efforts to strengthen service where the demand clearly calls for it," said CTA president Frank Kruesi. "Another way we?re addressing the Brown Line ridership resurgence is to push for funding to extend platforms at stations outside the Loop so they can accommodate longer trains."
Besides running downtown later, Brown Line trains will begin serving the Loop at 5:10 a.m. on Saturdays, or an hour earlier than the current schedule. On Sundays and holidays, the first train will arrive around 7:20 a.m., which is about the same time as the first Orange and Green Line trains enter the Loop.
Other CTA service improvements that have been implemented this year include extending bus service downtown until 12:30 a.m. nightly on the #6 Jeffery Express; more frequent, longer or extended service on 22 other bus lines and five 'L' lines, and keeping open at all hours trains operate13 'L'-subway stations and station entrances that had been closed late at night and/or on weekends.
Over the past two years, the CTA has also reopened the Blue Line subway station at Grand, opened a new entrance at the 35th-Bronzeville-IIT Green Line station, established express bus routes on Western Avenue and Cermak Road, extended bus service to the 63rd Street and North Avenue beaches, and enhanced service on dozens of other bus lines throughout the CTA service area.# # #