CTA TO IMPROVE ACCESSIBILITY ON MAINLINE SERVICE, EXPANDING OPTIONS FOR CUSTOMERS WITH DISABILITIES

July 18, 2001
07/18/01

Mayor Richard M. Daley, together with CTA Board Chairman Valerie B. Jarrett and CTA President Frank Kruesi announced today that 11 more bus routes will be accessible to the disabled starting July 22, 2001 and an additional 20 routes will become accessible this fall. By year-end 2003, 100% of CTA bus routes will be accessible. At the announcement, CTA officials showcased the Nova bus, the newest vehicle the agency is adding to its fleet that includes a number of accessible features.

"The City of Chicago will continue to work very hard to remove barriers that can prevent people with disabilities from living a normal life here in Chicago- whether it's getting in and out of their homes, going to work, shop, eat, or be entertained," said Mayor Richard M. Daley.

"All of our customers deserve quality, affordable transit services," stated CTA Board Chairman Valerie B. Jarrett. ?In keeping with our mission, we are continuously making system-wide improvements designed to make travel on the CTA's fixed-route bus and rail system a more attractive and viable option for our customers with disabilities."

Currently, 85% or 1,635 out of 1,908 CTA buses are accessible, with such features as ramps, lifts and wheelchair securement areas for customers with disabilities. As it adds new buses to its fleet, more bus routes will become accessible. Presently, 57%, or 80 out of 139 of CTA bus routes are designated as accessible. With the addition of 11 newly accessible routes this month, 66% of CTA routes will be accessible. By fall, 80%, or 111 out of 139 routes will be accessible. The agency considers a bus route to be accessible only when every bus serving that route is accessible.

CTA President Frank Kruesi added, "In addition to more buses being accessible, this year six more CTA rail stations were made accessible and five other stations will be made accessible by the end of the year. We also offer a number of services geared specifically to customers with disabilities to expand their riding options."

Effective July 22, 2001, the following CTA bus routes will be designated as accessible, using 40-foot buses:

#2 Hyde Park Express
#30 South Chicago
#36 Broadway
#65 Grand
#71 71st
#75 74th/75th
#81W West Lawrence
#82 Kimball/Homan
#100 Jeffery Manor Express
#126 Jackson
#129 West Loop/South Loop.

This fall, the CTA expects to make two bus routes that use longer, articulated buses accessible ? the #6 Jeffery Express and the #147 Outer Drive Express -- along with 18 additional bus routes that use standard, 40-foot buses.

These 18 routes are:

#17 Westchester
#24 Wentworth
#25 West Cermak
#43 43rd
#44 Wallace/Racine
#57 Laramie
#59 59th/61st
#63W West 63rd
#165 West 65th
#68 Northwest Highway
#85A North Central
#93 North California
#94 South California
#103 West 103rd
#108 Halsted/95th
#112 Vincennes/111th
#127 NW/Madison
#157 Streeterville.

This list of bus routes was developed in cooperation with the CTA's ADA Advisory Committee. The Committee discussed with CTA staff potential criteria for determining routes to become accessible. The committee reviewed CTA staff's evaluation of the criteria and endorsed the proposed sequence of routes to be made accessible.

The CTA's new NOVA buses make traveling more convenient. For customers with disabilities, the new buses boast a low-floor feature that eliminates the need for a lift. Instead, a hydraulic front-door ramp can be folded out from the floor of the bus to allow easy wheelchair or mobility device access. The CTA's ADA Advisory Committee provided suggestions regarding ways to make the bus even more accessible.

As a result, the CTA modified the front door grabhandles to minimize potential hazards for passengers boarding in wheelchairs; removed three inches from the front vestibule farebox platform to increase wheelchair maneuverability; lowered the farebox to make it more user-friendly and changed one of the wheelchair positions to provide greater clearance if both positions are in use at the same time.

The CTA introduced the NOVA bus into service in December 2000 on the #3 King Drive route. In all, the CTA expects to put 309 Nova buses into service by the end of 2001, and 160 more in 2002. The CTA also is purchasing up to 200 new articulated (accordion-style) buses to serve its heavy-volume bus routes. These accessible buses will begin arriving in 2003.

Currently, 88% of the CTA's rail fleet is accessible, and 42% of the agency's rail stations, 61 out of 144 facilities, are accessible. By the end of the year, the CTA expects 64 rail stations, or 44% of the system total, to be accessible. The CTA will be going out for bid this year to replace 142 remaining railcars that are presently not accessible. Presently, every CTA train has at least two railcars that are accessible. The CTA expects to have 100% of its railcars accessible in 2005.

CTA stations that are accessible feature: elevators or ramps, tactile platform edging, raised lettering and Braille signage, wheelchair turnstiles, an improved public address system, curb cuts, gap fillers, and elevator status boards.

Accessible CTA rail cars include: wide sliding doors, designated wheelchair parking areas, wheelchair securement devices and passenger intercom system. In addition, to alert customers when a train runs express and will bypass certain stations an "express" reading has been added to all railcar destination sign curtains and a red flashing LED light is being installed to both side destination sign boxes on all railcars.

CTA customers who cannot use the agency's mainline bus and rail system have the option of participating in the CTA Paratransit program. The program, which provides door-to-door service for customer's with disabilities, is open to anyone who has been certified by the Regional Transportation Authority being eligible for Paratransit service as mandated by the Americans with Disabilities Act.

The CTA Paratransit program is comprised of Special Services, which contracts with private carriers to pick customers up for work, school or recreational activities, and the Taxi Access Program (TAP), where customers can purchase taxi vouchers valued at up to $12.00 each for the reduced price of $1.50. The CTA recently approved a 20 % increase in the subsidy it provides to TAP customers so they wouldn?t be adversely impacted by recent taxi fare hikes. In doing so, the agency increased the subsidy from $10 to $12, enabling customers to travel the same distance at virtually no extra cost. Last year, the CTA provided 1.2 million paratransit rides.

Another CTA service, the Elevator Status Line, gives customers the operating status of the elevators at the CTA's 61 accessible rail stations, thereby making it easier to plan trips on the CTA rail system. The CTA updates the toll-free hotline every three hours beginning at midnight and customers can access the recording 24 hours a day, 7 days a week by dialing 1-888-YOUR-CTA, and pressing 5 for a direct connection to the Elevator Status Line.

CTA Chairman Jarrett summed up the agency's future plans by stating, "As the CTA forges ahead to revitalize our system, we will continue to keep the needs of our customers with disabilities foremost in our plans and decision making."

For more information regarding CTA services or the CTA Paratransit program, contact the CTA at 1-888-YOUR-CTA, or visit the agency's website at www.transitchicago.com.

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