CTA Reminds Customers of Upcoming Service Changes

January 26, 2010

Information to be Distributed at Bus Stops and Rail Stations to Prepare Riders

Chicago Transit Authority President Richard L. Rodriguez today reminded customers that CTA bus and rail service reductions and layoffs will go into effect in two weeks and outlined steps the CTA is taking to inform riders.

Beginning Sunday, February 7, service will run less frequently on 119 bus routes and seven of CTA’s eight rail lines, and hours of service will be reduced on 41 bus routes.  These routes either will start service later, end service earlier or both.  In addition, nine express bus routes that have corresponding local service will be eliminated. 

Although the reductions were designed to minimize the impact on rush hour service, riders should expect to experience longer wait times, particularly in off peak hours, and more crowded buses and trains.  Under current operation there are already numerous rail and bus routes that are at capacity during rush periods.  When service is reduced on February 7, crowding on these routes will increase so, in addition to longer wait times, riders who travel on the agency’s highest volume routes may have to wait for multiple buses or trains before boarding.  The CTA is advising riders to allow for additional travel time.

"There are several avenues for customers to obtain information about the upcoming service changes," said CTA President Richard L. Rodriguez.  "Over the last few weeks, we have posted information on our vehicles, at our stations, and on our website.  Starting today and continuing through February 7, CTA representatives will be deployed at key locations to pass out informational brochures to customers. Our primary focus is to have riders prepared – I want to avoid having riders waiting for a bus that has had its service hours shortened."

More than 630 CTA representatives will be manning 100+ locations across the bus and rail system over the next three weeks, with special emphasis placed on reaching riders who will be most impacted by reduced service hours for the 41 bus routes with shortened spans of service.  Information specialists will provide customers with a brochure that contains information on changes to service hours and frequency.  Detailed route-by-route information is also available on the CTA’s Web site: www.transitchicago.com.

Brochures will be available to customers at rail stations, on CTA’s Web site at www.transitchicago.com and through CTA’s Customer Service Center via email at feedback@transitchicago.com or by calling 1-888-YOUR CTA (1-888-968-7282).  Brochures are available in English, Spanish, Polish and Chinese. 

Information has also been provided to offices of local elected officials to share with their constituents and help them prepare for the impact of service reductions and to Chambers of Commerce, municipalities, city agencies and faith-based organizations to have on hand for residents who may contact them for information.

Customer alerts have been posted across the system listing routes that will be impacted.  Information has also been programmed on digital displays and electronic signage at rail stations and affected bus routes have been playing announcements outlining specific changes since early January. Signs are currently being posted at all CTA bus stops notifying customers of the changes to service. 

"These reductions will make traveling during rush hour more difficult for the majority of our riders and we regret having to take these actions, however, by law we are required to operate under a balanced budget," said Rodriguez. He said efforts to avert the reductions by reducing labor costs have been unsuccessful.

"Because nearly 90 percent of CTA’s workforce is unionized, we have tried to work with the labor unions to implement cost-saving measures such as furlough days, deferred wage increases, and changes in health benefits to help scale back service reductions,” he added.  "Although it is extremely difficult to ask dedicated employees to sacrifice, the aim was to preserve service and thereby keep people employed.  Unfortunately, CTA has been unable to reach an agreement with the unions so service reductions and the corresponding layoffs of more than 1000 employees will go forward on February 7."

The service reductions are designed to retain as much service as possible while reducing costs and maximizing efficiency.  Service will be scheduled so that vehicles are carrying as many people as possible.  As a result, both buses and trains will be crowded at all hours.

As a general guideline, riders can expect an additional two to five minutes between buses during weekday rush periods.  Rail customers can expect an additional one to two minutes for a train during rush hour, and generally two to five minutes longer during off-peak hours.  Although that may not seem significant, both buses and trains will fill up faster as a result of the service decrease, particularly during peak service hours, and riders may be forced to wait for multiple vehicles to pass before being able to board. 

During off peak service hours, generally riders can expect an additional two to eight minutes between buses – during very late evening hours, there may be an additional 10 to 15 minutes between buses.

Customers are strongly encouraged to check the CTA web site for specific information regarding their routes.

All rail routes and all bus routes will be maintained except for nine express routes that have a matching local route. Owl service on both bus and rail remain unchanged, preserving service for those third-shift workers who have few options other than public transit. 

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