June 5, 2002

The CTA Board Wednesday approved the establishment of a new experimental bus service to the Avon Products Inc. facility in north suburban Morton Grove. The six-month experimental service is aimed at reverse commuters, and is supported by Suburban Job Link, a non-profit agency that helps inner-city residents find employment opportunities in the suburbs. Service will begin June 24.

The X98 Avon Express will be the newest CTA route designed to serve reverse commuters. Two years ago, the CTA partnered with United Parcel Service to provide direct service from the Red Line station at 69th to a UPS facility in southwest suburban Hodgkins. Weekday ridership on the #169 69th/UPS Express route exceeded expectations by as many as 700 customers a day, and the CTA recently started another bus route, the #168 UIC-Pilsen Express, to the UPS facility on an experimental basis from the University of Illinois at Chicago and Pilsen communities.

"The Avon Express route will provide a direct link between the Blue Line 'L' and a major employment generator in the northern suburbs, making reverse commuting affordable and convenient for Chicagoans who travel to the suburbs," said CTA Chairman Valerie B. Jarrett. "This service will reduce commuting times and make it possible to accept a job far from home."

Fully accessible buses on the X98 Avon Express route will be scheduled to meet shift changes at the Avon facility. Leaving the Irving Park Blue Line station at 6:17 a.m., 2:17 p.m. and 10:17 p.m., the buses will operate via I-94, Dempster and Waukegan to the Avon site near Golf Road in about 25 minutes. Return trips will start at 7:10 a.m., 3:20 p.m. and 11:20 p.m.

CTA President Frank Kruesi said, "One of the initiatives we have taken to strengthen CTA service is to provide flexibility by identifying new markets. The CTA has already helped meet some of these needs by creating new express routes and extending other routes so employees can reach jobs that may be at some distance from regular service."

Also on Wednesday, the Board approved the permanent routing of #75 74th/75th buses to serve the Red Line station at 79th. To reach the Red Line station, both east and westbound #75 buses use Lafayette to 79th and State back to 75th. Before the change was made experimentally last December, the #75 was the only east-west bus route on the South Side that did not connect to an 'L' line. Since November, 2001, ridership on the #75 route has increased 5 percent.

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