CTA Details Recommended Options and Service Plan for Three-Track Operation

February 14, 2007

Today CTA officials updated current plans on how rail and bus service will operate when three-track operations begin this spring on the North Side. The agency outlined service impacts for Brown, Red and Purple Express trains traveling through the corridor between Armitage and Addison, and proposed plans to bolster several existing bus routes in anticipation of rail customers switching to bus service.

As part of the Brown Line capacity expansion project, trains serving the Belmont and Fullerton stations will have to share three tracks instead of four to allow construction crews the necessary space to install elevators at each station and expand the platforms to accommodate longer trains. Operating trains on one less track at Belmont and Fullerton will allow the CTA to keep both stations open and maintain rail service during construction but will result in more crowded trains and longer commutes for customers on the Brown Line, Purple Line Express and north branch of the Red Line, particularly during the evening commute when 24 fewer northbound trains will operate during the evening rush period. During the morning rush period, nine fewer trains will operate.

The area impacted by three track operations has an extensive bus network that complements rail service. In addition to the Red, Brown and Purple Express Lines, there are more than 40 bus routes that could be used as alternate transportation, including nine lakefront express routes that provide direct service to and from the Loop during rush periods. In addition to recommending that rail customers consider traveling earlier, later or using an alternate route, the CTA proposes to increase bus service on several routes that serve the same area as the Brown Line.

During the evening rush period (3 to 6:30 p.m.), CTA plans to increase service northbound from the Loop on the:

  • #11 Lincoln/Sedgwick
  • #22 Clark
  • #147 Outer Drive Express
  • #148 Clarendon/Michigan Express

During the morning rush period (6 to 9:30 a.m.), CTA plans to increase service southbound on the:

  • #11 Lincoln/Sedgwick
  • #22 Clark
  • #134 Stockton/LaSalle Express
  • #135 Clarendon/LaSalle Express
  • #151 Sheridan

Additional bus routes that provide service or connections between the Loop and the North Side include:

  • #8 Halsted
  • #9 Ashland
  • #X9 Ashland Express
  • #20 Madison
  • #X20 Washington/Madison Express
  • #36 Broadway
  • #49 Western
  • #X49 Western Express
  • #50 Damen
  • #52 Kedzie/California
  • #53 Pulaski
  • #56 Milwaukee
  • #66 Chicago
  • #65 Grand
  • #70 Division
  • #72 North
  • #73 Armitage
  • #74 Fullerton
  • #76 Diversey
  • #77 Belmont
  • #78 Montrose
  • #80 Irving Park
  • #X80 Irving Park Express
  • #81 Lawrence
  • #82 Kimball/Homan
  • #84 Peterson
  • #92 Foster
  • #136 Sheridan/LaSalle Express
  • #143 Stockton/Michigan Express
  • #144 Marine/Michigan Express
  • #145 Wilson/Michigan Express
  • #146 Inner Drive/Michigan Express
  • #152 Addison
  • #155 Devon
  • #156 LaSalle

CTA plans to stage additional buses at key locations to supplement these routes as necessary.

Because rail service levels will be reduced and trains will fill up early in the route, the agency proposes staging additional Brown Line trains that would travel only along the heaviest used portion of the rail route in order to provide some room for customers who board at stations closer to the Loop. In addition, rail service on the Blue Line, which is a convenient option for many, would be supplemented by adding service along the heaviest traveled portion of the rail routes.

Select Blue Line trains would operate between Jefferson Park and UIC/Halsted at key rush periods to accommodate the highest concentration of customers on that segment of the route.

Select Brown Line trains would operate between Belmont and the Loop during key rush periods.

Purple Line Express trains would operate on the outer track in the Loop ? the same side currently used by the Brown Line ? to make it easier for customers to board either route and exit the Loop at the first opportunity.

CTA will monitor and adjust supplemental service as needed throughout three-track operation.

"The proposed plan is to boost bus service at those points where we expect rail customers to migrate," said Chicago Transit Board Chairman Carole Brown. ?But, we still encourage our customers to take a look at their travel patterns and experiment with some adjustments ? maybe switching to bus service, or leaving earlier or later from work, or making a connection that would help speed their trips, or a combination of all of these."

?Because buses and trains are more crowded the closer they are to the Loop, we would add buses to several routes at key segments to add capacity where and when it is most needed," said CTA President Frank Kruesi. ?Traveling at times when there is more capacity would also help. For example, if you normally catch a Brown Line train at 5 p.m. to get to home, leaving at a different time during three-track operation may make all the difference."

?Although there will be some increase in travel time while trains operate through the construction zone, it is the wait time to board a train that will increase significantly. Thus, it is the wait time for an available train that will add to the length of the commute," explained Kruesi. ?There will be fewer trains operating and additional customers using bus service."

?The fact that there are multiple options to consider says a lot about the extent of our system and we want to make sure that our customers are aware of all of their options and can plan the route that works best for them," added Brown. ?For some customers it may be taking a bus to the Blue Line, or taking a bus from the Belmont station or taking a Lake Shore express route to the Loop. Maybe it will be staying on the Brown Line and traveling earlier in the morning, or taking the train in the morning and a bus to get home at night. Consult our system map or try the RTA trip planner and experiment with what works best for you."

The Chicago Transit Authority will hold several community meetings to continue its effort to solicit input from the community for upcoming three-track rail operation. Meeting dates and locations are currently being finalized and will be announced in advance of the meetings.

The newly installed Clark Junction signal system is being configured to manage the increased volume of train traffic on fewer tracks through the corridor and operational staff is being trained to coordinate traffic through the reconfigured junction. Three-track operation is tentatively scheduled to begin on Monday, April 2, 2007 and continue until the Brown Line capacity expansion project is completed in 2009, however, the start date will not be finalized until all signals and crossover work is completed and passes tests for reliability.

The construction is part of the Brown Line capacity expansion project which, when completed, will allow the CTA to accommodate more customers in this busy and growing corridor and will make all Brown Line stations accessible to people with disabilities.

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