The Chicago Transit Authority announces increased reliability in its rail operations for the year while achieving a new record for the month of November. Most notable is the increase in Miles Between Reported Defects (MBRD), the transit industry's standard for measuring reliability, especially on the Red and Blue Lines.
A defect is anything that is wrong with a rail car, from a problem with the windows to a mechanical problem, that is reported by the train's operator, customers or supervisors. Miles Between Reported Defects is a measure of how well the rail system is functioning. The more miles between defects, the more reliable the service.
The MBRD for the Red Line reached a new high of 5,889 miles per car between defects while the Blue Line set its own record of 3,064 miles per car between defects. Both figures exceed those of any previous month. One reason for the improvement to the Red Line is that 100% of its cars have recently undergone a mid-life renovation. About half the cars operating on the Blue Line have also undergone rehabilitation.
Overall, the average MBRD on the CTA's rail system for this November is 3,858 miles between defects, another first for the system. In November of 2000, the MBRD was 2,346. This year's figure represents a 64% improvement over 2000.
As recently as two years ago, the MBRD averaged 1,500 miles. In 1999, CTA Rail Operations averaged 104 defects per day on its fleet of 1190 rail cars. For the first eleven months of 2001, there has been an average of 59 defects per day and 42 per day for the month of November.
CTA President Frank Kruesi said, ?These high marks are the result of improved fleet performance and are a concrete reflection of the impact preventative maintenance programs have on our goal of providing service that is on-time, clean, safe and friendly."
One of the factors contributing to the increased MBRD is the newly rehabbed 2600 Series rail cars that are returning to the fleet after being overhauled. The average age of the 2600 Series cars is 17 years and the $344.6 million rehabilitation is expected to keep them in service for at least 17 more years. Upgrades to the cars include more reliable components, enhanced air conditioning and new propulsion components.
Upgrades to the 2600 Series cars include new micro-processor-controlled propulsion systems, cab signal and auxiliary power systems and new air conditioning systems with greater airflow and cooling power. Windscreens have been added near the doorways to reduce drafts. The cars have also been equipped with new solid-state inverters and controls that are sealed in stainless steel boxes underneath the cars that will enable better performance during a storm with blowing snow.
To date, 462 out of 598 2600 Series rail cars have been rehabbed and are back in service.
In addition to the rehabilitation of the 2600 Series cars, the 2200 Series cars which are about 30 years old, had air conditioning system upgrades this summer. The 2200 Series cars are scheduled to be replaced as part of the CTA's five-year capital improvement plan. Light maintenance was performed on the 2400 Series rail cars, which are about 25 years old. Upgrades included changing the trucks beneath the cars and replacing door sensitive edges which allow the door to automatically reopen.
The second major factor of CTA's rail reliability is the implementation of additional inspections on the Red and Blue Lines, which are the agency's busiest, this past spring. Additional trips as a result of increased service on the Red and Blue Lines, means more wear and tear on the cars. More frequent inspections mean fewer miles between inspections, which results in better-maintained rail cars. Each rail car is now inspected eight times a year, up from seven. By keeping rail cars well maintained, more cars are available for service, leaving fewer cars out of service.
?There is no question that we are seeing benefits from the investment we made in renovating the 2600 Series rail cars, as well as the work done on other rail car models," said Chicago Transit Board Chairman Valerie B. Jarrett. ?Improved maintenance translates to fewer breakdowns, fewer delays, a more comfortable ride for CTA customers and better service overall."
Fleet upgrades have been ongoing in the agency's Bus Operations as well, with the CTA retiring older buses, bringing new, standard-size Nova buses into service. Some older model buses were retrofitted with air conditioning over the summer.
To date, 309 out of 469 Nova buses purchased have arrived. The remainder will be delivered during 2002. The Nova buses are air conditioned and feature low floors making it easier for customers with mobility devices to board and providing a more comfortable ride overall.
The addition of the newer buses is helping to enhance the reliability of the bus fleet. Currently older model buses require road calls for defects every 2,944 miles on average. The Nova buses are averaging 9,255 miles between calls. As these newer buses are delivered and the bus fleet becomes younger, the reliability of the bus fleet will increase.
The CTA is undergoing a mid-life overhaul program for the TMC series buses to increase reliability and add passenger amenities such as air-conditioning. The TMC overhaul program is about half completed and road calls for the fleet as a whole are about 4,510 miles between reported defects. When compared to the Flexble series buses, which are not being overhauled and were purchased the same year as the TMC buses in 1991, the overhauled TMC buses demonstrate a 20% increase in performance reliability.
?The CTA is grateful for the support of U.S. House Speaker Dennis Hastert, Governor George H. Ryan's Illinois FIRST program, Mayor Richard M. Daley and members of the Illinois General Assembly whose support of public transit is moving the CTA toward an improved state of repair," added Kruesi. ?A more dependable fleet will also encourage new customers to try public transit and realize its viability as a transportation alternative."
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