Board Approves Purchase of 13 Accessible Buses
After surveying the market for a small quantity of narrow, accessible buses that it could put into service quickly and inexpensively while it awaits the purchase and manufacture of new buses, the Chicago Transit Board today approved the purchase of 13 narrow, lift-equipped, air-conditioned buses previously owned by Pace. The addition of these buses to the CTA fleet will enable the CTA to make 100 percent of its 152 bus routes fully accessible to people with disabilities. The buses will be used on CTA bus routes #170, #171, #172 and #173 that serve the University of Chicago campus in Hyde Park. These are the only CTA routes currently not accessible.
?This is an important milestone for the CTA and for customers with disabilities who rely on affordable public transit in the region," said Chicago Transit Board Chairman Carole Brown. ?Achieving 100 percent accessibility makes CTA bus service more convenient for customers."
?With this purchase, every CTA bus will be accessible to our customers with disabilities, which is significant in our ongoing efforts to upgrade our fleet," said CTA President Frank Kruesi. ?This is a cost-effective purchase of a quality bus that will add reliability as well as accessibility and air conditioning to the remainder of our bus fleet."
Like the 1991 TMCs currently used on these routes, the 40-foot long, 96-inch wide Orion buses ? owned by Pace and manufactured in 1990 ? are narrower than a standard 102-inch wide bus and better able to navigate on side streets. Because of a lighter duty and less wear and tear, they are in much better condition to serve CTA bus customers than the TMC buses The TMCs have endured a more severe service environment having been subjected to heavier loads, more frequent stops and more congested traffic.
The purchase price will not exceed $5,500 per bus for a total sum not to exceed $71,500. The contract was not competitively bid, as it was determined to be disadvantageous to do so. Also, regulations governing purchase and sales transactions states that contracts between units of government are not subject to a competitive bid process.
The CTA's efforts to make its affordable mainline service more accessible to customers with disabilities include initiatives beyond lifts and ramps. CTA is continuing to install an automated announcement system on its bus fleet that helps visually and hearing impaired customers better navigate the system.
This system features exterior announcements and electronic signs that identify the bus route and its destination when the front doors are opened. It also includes interior announcements and signs identifying the next stop. Currently 95 percent of CTA buses are equipped with this system. By mid 2005 all CTA buses should be equipped with the system.
In addition, CTA is preparing to purchase new narrow, accessible buses that will be specifically designed to accommodate many of the narrow streets in Hyde Park and future markets yet to be identified. These buses are expected to join the CTA fleet by 2006.
On the rail system, all CTA trains are accessible with a minimum of two accessible cars per train. All CTA trains are equipped with a pre-recorded announcement system that informs customers of upcoming station stops.
Gap fillers for wheelchairs are located at all rail stations to facilitate the movement of mobility devices on and off trains. All CTA rail platforms include raised tactile edging to let customers know where the edge of the platform is located.
Following the completion of the rehabilitation of the 54th/Cermak branch of the Blue Line and the recent re-openings of eight rehabbed stations on the branch, more than half of the CTA's 144 rail stations are now accessible. CTA will include accessibility features into the design of any new stations or those stations being substantially renovated.
A brochure describing CTA's accessible services is available at all CTA rail stations or by calling CTA Customer Service at 1-888-YOUR-CTA or 1-888-CTA-TTY1. The brochure also is on CTA's web site at www.transitchicago.com. In addition, customers can find information on accessible bus routes, rail stationsand general CTA service by calling the RTA travel information center at 836-7000 from any local area code.# # #