August 29, 2000

The Chicago Transit Authority today formally turned on the new announcements on Brown (Ravenswood) Line trains. The activation of the Brown Line announcements completes the line-by-line implementation of rail communication improvements on board CTA trains that began in February of this year.

Pre-recorded announcements deliver information on route, run number, connecting rail line information, what station is next and popular destinations such as City Hall, the Thompson Center and the Museum Campus. Other announcements outline CTA rules and policies such as no smoking, littering or loud radio playing, alert customers the doors are closing, and on which side of the railcar the doors will open at the next station.

Chicago Transit Board Chairman Valerie B. Jarrett said, "Customers have responded positively to the pre-recorded announcements and have even provided our staff with feedback to help us modify and improve the announcement system. It's important for the CTA to invest in technology that improves customer satisfaction and increases the level of customer service we can provide."

"Modern technology has allowed us to make garbled messages a thing of the past. Now we can give our customers clear, understandable information and more of it, so they know where they are and where they're going with advance notice. Thanks to feedback from customers, we have fine-tuned the volume of the 'doors closing' bell so it's not as loud," said CTA President Frank Kruesi. "These announcements provide vital information to customers who are new or unfamiliar to the CTA system, as well as daily riders. Now all our customers, on all our rail lines will receive the same standard of quality announcements and information to make their rides on-time, clean, safe and friendly."

As part of the $5.4 million rail communications improvement project, an intercom system has also been activated on all railcars. This intercom system allows customers to communicate directly with the rail operator from any car in the event of an emergency or when disabled customers need assistance.

With the completion of the Brown Line, all 1,190 CTA rail cars have been equipped with new or upgraded public address system amplifiers, new amplifiers and new interior speakers. Rail operator cabs have been retrofitted with a keypad console that allows them to operate the pre-recorded announcement system. The rail operator controls the announcements to be played according to codes assigned to each rail line.

However, the operator is still be able to override the pre-recorded system and make announcements manually to notify customers of delays or equipment malfunctions.

Rail operator cabs have also been equipped with communication panels to house the handset and speaker to communicate with customers over the intercom system.

The CTA's ADA Committee (Americans With Disabilities Act) provided input in the design of the intercom to make the system accessible and easy to use for customers with disabilities.

Meister Electronics LC of Tampa, Florida was awarded the contract to install the pre-recorded announcement and intercom system equipment. All railcars are now equipped with the hardware and software required to operate the pre-recorded announcements and intercom system.

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