Eleven more CTA bus routes will become accessible to customers with disabilities starting Sunday, December 22, making 88 percent of all CTA routes fully accessible. A bus route is considered accessible only when every bus needed to serve the route is equipped to accommodate customers with disabilities. Fully 96 percent of the CTA bus fleet is now accessible.
The newly accessible bus routes are the #33 Mag Mile Express, #48 South Damen, #54A North Cicero/Skokie Blvd., #55N 55th/Narragansett, #69 Cumberland/East River, #91 Austin, #96 Lunt, #136 Sheridan/LaSalle Express, #152 Addison, #202 Main/Emerson and #204 Dodge. #91 and #152 buses, which operate daily, will become accessible Sunday, December 22, while accessibility on the other routes will take effect Monday, December 23.
All new CTA buses purchased since 1990 have been accessible to persons with disabilities. The CTA now has 1,933 accessible buses, including models with lifts and others with low floors and ramps to accommodate customers in wheelchairs.
In 2003, the CTA will begin receiving 226 low-floor articulated buses and 25 low-floor 45-foot buses from North American Bus Industries, Inc. These buses will make the fleet 100 percent accessible once all older models have been replaced.
The CTA is committed to expanding travel options for customers with disabilities. A program to rehabilitate 25 of the CTA's oldest 'L' station elevators is currently on schedule and will be completed next spring. Also useful to customers with disabilities is an Automated Voice Annunciation System that is being installed on buses to provide automated bus stop announcements and electronic signs that display the next stop.
Earlier this year the CTA launched the Mobility Direct program in conjunction with the Checker Taxi Association to provide yet another affordable transit option. This program, which will become a permanent part of CTA service next year, allows customers with disabilities to take regularly scheduled taxi rides to and from the same destination without pre-purchasing vouchers as required under the CTA's Taxi Access Program (TAP).
Including Mobility Direct and TAP, the CTA expects to provide 1.5 million Paratransit trips this year through a program that will be enhanced next year with a new Automated Reservation, Scheduling and Dispatching System.
Every 'L' train has cars that are accessible, and 88 percent of the CTA's rail fleet is accessible. Early next year the CTA expects to award a contract for new 'L' cars which will ultimately replace all the remaining cars that lack accessibility. Ongoing renovation of the Cermak (Douglas) branch of the Blue Line and plans for the Brown Line will add almost two dozen more stations to the 64 that are already accessible to customers with disabilities throughout the CTA system.
Currently, all bus routes operating out of five of the CTA's eight garages are accessible. These include 74th Street and 77th Street on the South Side, Archer on the Southwest Side, Chicago Avenue on the West Side and Forest Glen on the Northwest Side. Of the 17 routes that are not fully accessible, five are downtown shuttle routes, four are North Side routes and one is a South Side route. The other seven are special events routes or routes that are subsidized by employers. # # #