CTA Updates Three-Track Service Plan

May 17, 2007

Providing More Brown Line Service During Rush Periods

After evaluating travel patterns, ridership and service over the past six weeks of three-track operation, CTA President Ron Huberman said today that both bus and rail ridership have increased compared to pre-three track levels. Rail service has performed well through the construction zone and the signaling systems have been accommodating trains as planned, with capacity for additional trains to be added back into operation. As a result, a total of seven Brown Line trains?three in the morning and four in the evening--have been added back to the schedule and adjustments will be made to bus service beginning tomorrow to support routes that have experienced the most ridership growth.

"One of the goals of three-track operations was to maintain as much rail service as possible, while minimizing disruptions to customers," said Huberman. ?Because the adjustment to three-track operation has gone smoothly, we determined that we could reliably accommodate some additional trains during the busiest travel times without slowing the existing service. As some customers have switched to bus service, we will continue to provide supplemental bus service but will target it to the routes that are being used the most."

Since three-track operation began at the Belmont and Fullerton stations on April 2, average daily rail ridership on the North Side has increased by 4,800 rides, or four percent, compared to March even though ridership levels in rush periods decreased by 2,800 rides. Customers heeded CTA's advice to leave earlier, leave later or choose alternate service. Bus routes in the corridor have seen approximately 4,300 additional customers in each rush period, an average of 9 to 11 percent growth, with many customers gravitating to routes serving the Lake Shore corridor.

"Adjusting service to better match ridership patterns means service is deployed where customers are using it, but it will also save money," added Huberman. ?The level of extra bus service being provided when three-track operation first began was costing nearly $150,000 a week. Although the CTA scaled back the extra service as people adjusted their commutes, adding back trains and reducing more of the supplemental bus service will allow us to bring that weekly cost down to just under $77,000 a week. When you add that up through 2009, a $73,000 per week savings is a major improvement for our bottom line."

As part of the Brown Line capacity expansion project, Red, Brown and Purple Line trains serving the Belmont and Fullerton stations are sharing three tracks instead of four to allow construction crews the necessary space to install elevators at each station and expand the platforms to accommodate longer trains. Operating trains on one less track at Belmont and Fullerton allows the CTA to keep both stations open and maintain rail service during construction, but it also means that fewer trains can operate through the corridor during rush periods. When the new rail configuration went into effect on April 2, the CTA was operating 24 fewer northbound trains during the evening rush period than it had previously and nine fewer trains during the morning rush period.

During the second week of three-track operation, two northbound Brown Line trains were added back to service during the evening rush period. As travel patterns and ridership levels stabilized, Huberman said that the CTA added three more Brown Line runs to the morning rush period, and two more Brown Line runs in the evening rush period effective May 7.

The CTA had encouraged rail customers to switch to bus service due to three track operations and had added service to key bus routes to accommodate those customers. Now that some customers have returned to rail and additional trains were added during peak periods, the CTA plans to make strategic modifications to the supplemental bus service effective May 18. Extra service will remain on bus routes that have experienced the most growth during rush periods. For example, the #22 Clark has added up to 1,000 more customers (a 26 percent increase) during the morning rush than an average week in March. In the morning, the routes that will retain additional service are:

  • #11 Lincoln/Sedgwick
    #22 Clark
  • #134 Stockton/LaSalle Express
  • #135 Clarendon/LaSalle Express
  • #147 Outer Drive Express
  • #148 Clarendon/Michigan Express
  • #156 LaSalle

In the evening rush period, the #11 Lincoln/Sedgwick gained 600 additional customers (a 46 percent increase) and the #147 Outer Drive Express increased by nearly 1500 customers (45 percent). Extra service will remain on the:

  • #11 Lincoln/Sedgwick
  • #22 Clark
  • #147 Outer Drive Express
  • #148 Clarendon/Michigan Express

?We will actively monitor bus ridership patterns in the corridor so that buses are deployed in the areas where they are needed most. Adjustments will continue to be made as required," said Huberman.

Purple Line Express trains will continue to operate on the outer track in the Loop ? the same side used by the Brown Line ? to make it easier for customers to board either route and exit the Loop at the first opportunity.

Three-track operation is scheduled to continue until the Brown Line capacity expansion project is completed at the end of 2009. The project is designed to relieve congestion, provide for future growth by increasing capacity, and improve service delivery, safety and customer comfort. Since 1979, Brown Line ridership has increased approximately 83 percent. The project will also make the Brown Line accessible to all CTA customers, in accordance with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) guidelines.

The $530 million project remains on time and on budget. As of today, four stations (Kimball, Francisco, Kedzie and Rockwell) have been renovated and reopened ahead of schedule.

The CTA's web site, transitchicago.com, and the ctabrownline.com site have information pertaining to the three-track project.

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