CTA INTRODUCES RAIL COMMUNICATION IMPROVEMENTS

February 22, 2000
02/22/00

The Chicago Transit Authority today introduced a series of rail system enhancements designed to improve communications on board CTA trains.

Chicago Transit Board Chairman Valerie B. Jarrett and CTA President Frank Kruesi announced the activation schedule of pre-recorded rail announcements that will provide customers with clear, concise and standardized messages system-wide. The CTA will begin activating pre-recorded announcements and intercom systems on all seven rail lines on a line-by-line basis beginning today with the Red, Purple and Yellow Lines.

Pre-recorded announcements will deliver information on route, run number, connecting rail line information, what station is next and popular destinations such as City Hall and the Thompson Center. Other announcements outline CTA rules and policies such as no smoking, littering or loud radio playing, alert customers the doors are closing, and on which side of the railcar the doors will open at the next station.

"The CTA is taking advantage of new technology to provide our customers with improved service. We want to make garbled messages a thing of the past. Now we can give our customers clear, understandable information and more of it, so they know where they are and where they're going with advance notice. This is vital information to customers who are new or unfamiliar to the CTA system, as well as daily riders," said CTA President Frank Kruesi. "Now all our customers, on all our rail lines will receive the same standard of quality announcements and information to make their rides on-time, clean, safe and friendly."

As part of the $5.4 million rail communications improvement project, an intercom system will also be activated on all railcars as each rail line's pre-recorded announcements are activated. This intercom system will allow customers to communicate directly with the rail operator from any car such as in the event of an emergency or when disabled customers need assistance. As of today, the Red, Purple and Yellow Lines will have activated pre-recorded announcements and functioning intercom systems on board.

Testing of the communications improvements will now move to the Blue, Green, Orange and Brown Lines. The CTA plans to activate the pre-recorded announcements and intercom systems on the four remaining rail lines later this year according to the following schedule.

The Blue Line and Green Line in Late Spring of 2000 and the Orange and Brown Lines in Summer of 2000.

"The rail intercom system is an important feature available to our customers in case of an emergency. This is one of a number of steps the CTA has taken to make our system safer," added President Kruesi.

All 1,190 CTA rail cars will be equipped with new or upgraded public address system amplifiers, new amplifiers and new interior speakers. Rail operator cabs have been retrofitted with a keypad console that allows them to operate the pre-recorded announcement system. The rail operator will control the announcements to be played according to codes assigned to each rail line. However, the operator will still be able to override the pre-recorded system and make announcements manually to notify customers of delays or equipment malfunctions.

Rail operator cabs have also been equipped with communication panels to house the handset and speaker to communicate with customers over the intercom system.

The CTA's ADA Committee (Americans With Disabilities Act) provided input in the design of the intercom to make the system accessible and easy to use for customers with disabilities.

Meister Electronics LC of Tampa, Florida was awarded the contract to install the pre-recorded announcement and intercom system equipment. All railcars are now equipped with the hardware and software required to operate the pre-recorded announcements and intercom system.

Chicago Transit Board Chairman Valerie B. Jarrett said, "The CTA is working hard at being responsive to our customers' needs. While riding a train they want to be able to hear crisp, clear, static-free announcements that provide necessary and useful information. These new communications enhancements allow us to offer improved service to our customers and give them the added assurance that they can speak to a rail operator at the touch of a button."

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