Since completing the Belmont Blue Line improvement project recently, we have received inquiries regarding CTA’s commitment to accessibility. In response, we wanted to provide some more information about that important question.
CTA is absolutely committed to accessibility—and has been for many years. Currently, 100% of our buses and trains are accessible. And 71 % of our rail stations are accessible, which is among the highest rail station accessibility percentages of the older transit systems in the United States. Over the last eight years, nine stations have added accessibility, and four brand new accessible stations were constructed.
In just the last few years, CTA has added elevators to many stations, including: Quincy (2018), Wilson (2018), Illinois Medical District (2018), Washington/Wabash (2017), and Addison Blue Line (2016). We’ve also continued to improve accessibility systemwide through signage, audio alerts, digital screens, bus shelter features, and email/text alerts about elevator status.
And while we’re proud of the progress we have made, we recognize that our work will not be complete until we reach 100% accessibility. That’s why last year, CTA published the Strategic Plan for All Stations Accessibility Program (ASAP), a comprehensive plan to make our entire rail system 100% vertically accessible. CTA is the first large transit agency in the U.S. to develop a plan like ASAP, which outlines project plans, station concepts and cost estimates, as well as prioritizes both short-term and long-term accessibility improvement projects—including the addition two elevators at the Belmont Blue Line station.
Specifically, the proposed station modifications at Belmont in the ASAP plan include an elevator from street level to the unpaid side of the station house mezzanine and an elevator from the paid side of the station house mezzanine to the platform. An additional exit is also proposed at the south end of the platform to provide a second point of egress. Making Belmont Blue Line vertically accessible is challenging because it is a subway facility, which in general are typically more complex due to the location of the mezzanine and/or platform areas with buildings and streets above and often require excavation and utility location. The full Belmont Blue station accessibility project is estimated to cost $68 million.
Successful implementation of ASAP will rely heavily on future State capital programs. This will require the State to establish new revenue sources to fund transportation infrastructure improvements. CTA supports these new methods to increase funding for transportation infrastructure, and will continue to advocate that accessibility projects be prioritized as part of future State capital programs. CTA is also advocating for a new federal funding program to incentivize accessibility improvements beyond the ADA requirements.
Like other station projects included in CTA’s Your New Blue station improvement program, the recently completed Belmont Blue station work had a limited budget that only allowed for smaller-scale interim improvements—waterproofing, platform floor repairs, lighting and electrical work, creation of a prepaid boarding area, and construction of a protective canopy. The Belmont Blue Line station is a critical bus transfer location, providing more than 5,400 daily transfers between the CTA bus and rail networks. Improvements made as part of the recent Belmont Station construction project have provided much needed enhancements to the station’s bus waiting areas, which will improve comfort as well as customer circulation and connectivity between transfers. These interim improvements will provide significant customer benefits while we pursue funding for the ASAP program’s more comprehensive Belmont Blue station project that will make it accessible.
Accessibility benefits everyone, and the CTA looks forward to continued discussions with the disability community and the State of Illinois on how we can work together to make ASAP a reality.
We invite you to learn more about our commitment to accessibility here and about the ASAP program here. As always, we appreciate your continued feedback and suggestions as we work to modernize and improve our system.
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