CTA to Upgrade Communications Capability

July 13, 2005
7/13/05

Today the Chicago Transit Board approved a $31 million communications contract to upgrade its rail communication system. The project will expand the CTA's use of fiber optics, which increases the speed and capacity of information CTA is able to transmit both internally and to customers. Some CTA rail lines and stations already have fiber optics but others do not.

?Fiber optic cable can enhance communication systems because of its ability to carry more information, more reliably, with clearer audio and video reception," said CTA President Frank Kruesi. ?Customers will hear clearer platform announcements with an expanded fiber optic network."

The fiber optic expansion will increase the CTA's capacity for transporting key information from track level to its Control Center. The Control Center will be able to better coordinate service planning and strategic response to service interruptions.

?This upgrade is central to our ongoing efforts to improve our infrastructure and provide the high quality public transit service our customers deserve," said Chicago Transit Board Chairman Carole Brown. ?More and more people are riding the CTA and we need to continue to invest in our system to meet the increasing demand and provide commuters with a convenient, affordable option to driving."

CTA has been upgrading its communications capabilities over the past several years. Fiber optics have already been installed and are in use along the Green and Orange Lines, the 54th/Cermak branch of the Blue Line, the Blue Line from O'Hare to the Jackson subway station, and the Red Line from Howard to Roosevelt.

As part of the project approved today, fiber optics will be installed on the Yellow and Purple Lines, and will be upgraded along the Orange Line and Loop elevated. The Brown Line and the Forest Park branch of the Blue Line will receive fiber optic installation at a later date as part of other projects. The Dan Ryan branch of the Red Line is receiving fiber optic installation as part of its ongoing rehabilitation project.

While rail lines already equipped with fiber optics are currently tied into the network, a number of stations along those rail lines are not. As part of the project, these stations will have fiber optics installed for connection to the network.

In addition to the increased speed and capacity of the CTA's communication system, the fiber optic upgrade will save the CTA operating costs by eliminating its need to lease several communication lines from an outside company. As a result, the CTA will own and operate all of its communications lines for an expected savings of at least $500,000 annually.

Aldridge Electric, Inc., of Libertyville, Illinois will carry out the contract which includes providing and installing the fiber optic cable and equipment at CTA rail stations, facilities and along tracks. The project is expected to take two years to complete.

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