As a result of cost-conscious management, the CTA enters 2011 with a balanced budget that maintains current fares and service levels for riders—one of the many goals the agency accomplished this year.
Faced with an aging infrastructure in need of repair but lacking the capital funds to invest in all desired improvements, CTA found other ways to finance the critical capital needs. By leveraging previously secured federal funding, outside resources and shifting of existing resources, the CTA was able to upgrade and refurbish existing infrastructure.
CTA submitted multiple grant applications in 2010 and to date, CTA has been awarded more than $55 million in grants for various projects.
Earlier this year, CTA used $12.5 million in federal stimulus funds to construct a new entrance on Archer Avenue to the Red Line Cermak-Chinatown station. The entrance serves as the primary access point for customers while the main entrance to the station is rebuilt and made accessible.
Through a continued partnership with the Chicago Department of Transportation, rehabilitation of the Grand Red Line subway station and the construction of the CTA’s first new station in nearly a decade – the Morgan Green Line station in the West Loop – are currently underway.
In addition, CTA and Apple, Inc reached an agreement in which Apple supplied funding to refurbish the Red Line’s North/Clybourn station. The station renovations were completed in October.
In-service testing of the new 5000-series prototype rail cars also began earlier this year. The 10 prototype rail cars are currently being tested to determine how they perform when operating in the conditions that CTA's rail fleet is subjected to throughout the year. The prototypes must successfully complete testing on all eight rail lines.
The new rail cars will replace older cars in CTA’s fleet on the Brown and Yellow lines, which will improve service reliability. The new cars also offer a number of customer amenities in addition to added safety features and technologies that will enhance operations and maintenance and provide a smoother, more comfortable ride. The CTA is using capital funding from the Federal Transit Administration and Illinois Department of Transportation in addition to revenue bonds to purchase the rail cars.
Using grant funding from the Department of Homeland Security, CTA continues to make progress in enhancing security and expanding its surveillance network. Each of the 144 CTA rail stations has at least one high-definition camera installed, with expansion continuing in 2011.
As part of the CTA’s renewed commitment to further develop and implement meaningful and proactive accessibility initiatives consistent with the Americans with Disabilities Act, an Infrastructure Accessibility Task Force was formed on the 20th anniversary of the landmark piece of legislation.
The task force is charged with developing a financially-informed plan for accessibility initiatives and to help guide future initiatives that can enhance the accessibility at CTA rail stations. Currently, 63 percent (91 of 144) of CTA rail stations are accessible via elevators or ramps. Four more stations will soon be accessible following the completion of renovation work at the Cermak-Chinatown and Grand Red Line stations and the construction of two new rail stations – the Oakton Yellow Line and Morgan Green/Pink Line stations.
In these economic times, the competition for capital funds has only become more intense, which has led the agency to seek alternative means of funding for certain projects. The CTA is currently in the process of seeking out proposals for corporate sponsorships/naming rights – intended to generate new revenues for improving facilities and services – and a new open fare payment system, which could introduce the use of contactless credit cards, debit cards and prepaid cards to ride the system.
Also scheduled for 2011, CTA plans to test a system that allows customers to receive estimated arrival times for CTA trains following the popular Bus Tracker system.
CTA continues to enhance its Bus Tracker functionality, making the information more readily accessible. In 2010, the two-way texting feature was enhanced with instructions posted on bus stops on how to receive estimated arrival times via text message. Customers at the stop simply text the bus stop’s unique identification number to 41411 to receive the estimated arrival time for buses at that particular stop.
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