The Chicago Transit Authority had a banner year in 2001 as the agency embarked on an aggressive strategy to rebuild its system and implement service improvements to reflect the continued ridership growth the agency has experienced.
"The CTA had a very successful year," said CTA Chairman Valerie B. Jarrett. ?Thanks to the leadership and staunch support of Mayor Richard M. Daley, Governor George Ryan and his Illinois FIRST program and other Illinois lawmakers, we were able to bring projects to fruition that support our commitment to provide quality, affordable transit services that link people, jobs and communities."
In September, the CTA broke ground on its largest capital improvement project ever, the $482.6 million renovation of the Cermak (Douglas) Branch of the Blue Line. The project, which will take four years to complete, will offer a faster commute for customers and provide eight fully accessible, upgraded stations.
Thanks to the leadership of U.S. House Speaker Dennis Hastert, Senator Richard Durbin, Mayor Richard M. Daley, Governor George Ryan and his Illinois FIRST program as well as Illinois congressional delegation for supporting the CTA and helping the agency obtain the funding needed to make this rehabilitation project a reality.
The agency also completed renovations at 26 rail stations throughout its system as part of a rail station improvement program designed to extend the useful life of the facilities and make them more attractive to customers and more convenient to customers with disabilities.
CTA President Frank Kruesi said, "Meeting the needs of our customers is what the CTA is all about and we found a number of ways to do that this year by investing in our facilities and implementing the kinds of service improvements that lead to long-term reliability and increased customer satisfaction."
To ensure CTA customer needs will be met for years to come, the agency announced new service standards for the first time in 11 years and approved a variety of measures to provide more efficient bus and rail service.
In rail operations, the CTA added more frequent weekday service on the Purple, Red, Blue, Yellow and Brown Lines, and more frequent weekend service on the Orange and Brown Lines, to reflect the surge in ridership on these lines. The agency also opened the new Conservatory-Central Park Drive station on the Green Line.
On the bus side, the CTA made service improvements on 10 bus routes, and approved permanent weekday bus service on the #169 69th/UPS Express route which serves the United Parcel Service facility in southwest suburban Hodgkins.
Fleet upgrades have been ongoing as well, with the CTA retiring older buses, bringing new, standard-size Nova buses into service and increasing the number of air conditioned buses in its system. To date, the CTA has purchased 309 Nova buses, and brought the percentage of air conditioned buses to 87%, up from under 50% last summer. The agency has almost completed mid-life rehabs on its 2600 Series rail cars. To date, 466 of the 598 2600 Series rail cars have been rehabbed, 462 of which have been put back out on the rails for service.
In an effort to make its fixed-route bus service more accessible to customers with disabilities, the CTA recently made 31 additional bus routes accessible and implemented an elevator status line to help customers better plan their trips on the CTA rail system. Customers can access the line 24-hours-a-day, seven-days-a-week to learn which elevators have been taken out of service. Currently, 92% of CTA buses and 80% of CTA bus routes are accessible. On the rail side, 44% of CTA stations are accessible.
This year also marked the expansion of a number of existing CTA programs. The CTA expanded the hours of its Bikes on Trains program to seven days a week and implemented the Bikes on Buses pilot program this summer. The CTA extended its University Pass (U-Pass) program to full-time summer students and added the University of Illinois at Chicago. As a result, U-PASS has grown to 54,000 participating students at 26 schools, making it the largest program of its kind in the nation.# # #